After Hwang Jin Yi (1506-1544)

By | 1 April 2011


White water hurrying to the blue mountain –
why such haste to embrace your
destination? Once there you won’t be
coming back any time soon. Relax,
love the moonlight on the mountain, but
take your time. Enjoy the beautiful journey.


I take the longest night of winter
by its centre and fold it
beneath a blanket of spring wind
and there I wait for your return
when part by part I will unfold
this night for us to enjoy again.



I am steadfast as this mountain.
Green is the water of my lover’s
affection. Water flows this way
and that, but a mountain never
changes. And as the stream passes by
it still reflects the mountain.



What can be older than a mountain
or younger than water
that with its ceaseless flowing
never ages? The restless people, too,
ebb and flow like water, gone so swiftly
they never learn how to grow old.



(after Im Je*)

Here in the valley’s long green grass
are you sleeping or just at rest?
Alas, where is your beautiful face?
Now only your bones remain in the earth.
Bereft, who is there to share with me
this sad cup of homage that I bring?

*Im Je travelled to Songdo to visit Hwang Jin Yi, the great kisaeng poet, only to find she had died some years before.

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