Cho Ryeo (趙旅, 조려, 1420-1489) was a Chosun dynasty civil bureaucrat, who spent most of his life outside government. He was of the Ham’an Cho Clan (咸安趙氏, 함안조씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Ju’ong (翁, 주옹); his pen name (號, 호) was Eogye (漁溪, 어계); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Jeongjeol (貞節, 정절). In 1453, Cho Ryeo passed the civil service examination to enter Sungkyunkwan (成均館, 성균관), the national academy, where his intellect was widely recognized. But he soon left politics. Just two years later in 1455, Prince Suyang (首陽大君, 수양대군, 1417-1468) usurped the throne from his nephew King Danjong (端宗, 단종, 1441-1457, r. 1452-1455), taking the title King Sejo (世祖, 세조, r. 1455-1468). Cho Ryeo in protest retired from government to rusticate in his hometown of Ham’an (咸安, 함안) in South Gyeongsang Province (慶尙南道, 경상남도), west of Busan (釜山, 부산). There, he lived at the base of a nearby mountain and spent his time fishing, earning the pen name of Eogye (漁溪, 어계) (“fisherman’s brook”). In honor of Cho Ryeo, the mountain where he stayed was later renamed “Mount Baekyi” (伯夷山, 백이산) after the famous Zhou dynasty era Chinese nobleman Bo Yi (伯夷, 백이, ?-?), who also spent the remainder of his life as a hermit on a mountain after protesting the Zhou state’s (周, 주) invasion of his home state of Shang (商, 상). As he was not executed for protesting King Sejo’s usurpation of the throne by retiring from government, Cho Ryeo is known as one of the Six Surviving Ministers (生六臣, 생육신). This is contrast to the other six bureaucrats who suffered death for their protest known as the Six Martyred Ministers (死六臣, 사육신). For his merit, Cho Ryeo was posthumously raised to the high ranking position of Junior Minister of the Ministry of Personnel (吏曹參判, 이조참판) in 1698 and then to Senior Minister of the same ministry later on. 

During his seclusion from public life, Cho Ryeo spent his days not only fishing but also reading and composing poetry. In the poem below, Cho Ryeo describes the custom of Hair Bathe Festival (流頭節, 유두절 or 유둣날) while remarking on his own life. The name is an abbreviation of the phrase “Bathing the hair in the waters flowing east” (東流水頭沐浴, 동류수두목욕). The festival falls on the 15th day of the sixth month on the lunar calendar, which is July 30 this year. On this day, the traditional custom was to go to a stream or a waterfall to wash one’s hair to ward off the heat during the hottest period of year. Other customs included consuming food made out of wheat, millet, and beans and holding ancestral memorials (流頭薦新, 유두천신) using such food as offerings. The Hair Bathe Festival traces its origins back to the Shilla dynasty period (新羅, 신라, 57BC-935AD), and according to one source is the only traditional holiday unique to Korea — with the rest tracing back their origins to China. Today, however, outside of rural agricultural areas, the Hair Bathe Festival has been largely forgotten.

流頭 유두

Hair Bathe Festival

一帶長川抱隴頭 일대장천포롱두 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)
好將塵髮俯淸流 호장진발부청류 仄平平仄仄平平(韻)
常懷事業偏多誤 상회사업편다오 平平仄仄平平仄
却恨光陰不少留 각한광음불소류 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)
沐後彈冠心更淨 목후탄관심갱쟁 仄仄仄平平仄仄
醉餘揮筆興難收 취여휘필흥난수 仄平平仄仄平平(韻)
回看蕩蕩乾坤裏 회간탕탕건곤리 平平仄仄平平仄
物我俱新淡若秋 물아구신담약추 仄仄仄平仄仄平(韻)

Like a single belt, the long stream loops around the head of the hill.
Good it is to have dirty hair be bent into the clear flowing waters.
Always I have thought of my career and undertakings as mostly mistakes;
Yet I lament that my days and nights did not see even a few moments of respite.
After bathing, taking off my hat, my heart is once again cleansed;
Being intoxicated, waving around my brush, my interests can hardly be contained.
Turning, I observe within the fluttering and flittering heavens and earth:
All matter and myself, renewed and refreshed like autumn.


One • belt • long • stream • to surround • hill • head
Good • will • dirt • hair • to bend over • clear • flow
Always • to ponder • affair • work • to incline • many • mistakes
But • to resent • light • darkness • not • few • stop
To bathe • after • to pluck • hat • heart • again • to cleanse
Inebriated • to remain • to wave • brush • interests • difficult • to receive
To turn • to see • to flutter • to flutter • heaven • earth • inside
Material • I/me • all • new • fresh • to be like • autumn


  • Heptasyllabic regulated poem (七言律詩, 칠언율시). Riming character (韻, 운) is 尤(우). The poem complies with the rules of recent style poetry (近體詩, 근체시).
  • Korean translation available here (한국어 번역).
Sunghyeon Seoweon

Sunghyeon Confucian Academy (崇賢書院, 숭현서원), located in Daejeon (大田, 대전). It was destroyed during the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598 and reconstructed in 1609 at the direction of Song Namsu. The academy fell into ruin shortly after a decree by Prince Heungseon (興宣大院君, 흥선대원군, 1820-1898, r. 1863-1873) ordering the shutdown of all private academies. It was rebuilt for the second time in 1994. (Source)

Song Namsu (宋柟壽, 송남수, 1537-1626) was a Chosun dynasty scholar, poet, and civil bureaucrat. He was of the Eunjin Song Clan (恩津宋氏, 은진송씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Yeongro (靈老, 영로); and his pen names (號, 호) were Songdam (松潭, 송담), Sangshimheon (賞心軒, 상심헌), and Odosan’in (吾道山人, 오도산인). In 1578, Song Namsu was appointed to a bureaucratic position based upon the attainment of office by successive generations of his ancestors (蔭仕, 음사). Afterwards, he was posted in various offices, including Chief Clerk at the Royal Clothing Office (尙衣院判官, 상의원판관), Section Chief of the Board of Taxation (郞, 호조정랑), and County Magistrate of  Imcheon (林川郡守, 임천군수). After the 1597 Japanese invasion of Korea (丁酉再亂, 정유재란), Song Namsu was accused of abandoning his post in Imcheon and fleeing from the Japanese. However, he was absolved upon appeal of his initial judgment. Regardless, for sometime after, he decided to stay out of politics and rusticate. In 1607, Song Namsu returned to government, obtaining the title of Auxiliary Military Protector in Resisting Assaults (折衝副護軍, 절충부호군), an office in charge of transporting rations for troops. In 1609, he directed the reconstruction of Sunghyeon Confucian Academy (崇賢書院, 숭현서원), which was destroyed during the invasions. Upon attaining the age of 80, Song Namsu received the title of Grand Master of Excellent Justice (?) (嘉義大夫, 가의대부). During the latter years of his life, he retired to his home village, where he composed histories and poetry.

In the poem below, Song Namsu writes about trying to ward off the summer heat. In Korea, the end of July and start of August typically see the hottest days of the year. These are marked on the calendar by the Great Heat day (大暑, 대서), which falls on July 23, and the latter two of the Three Hottest Periods (三伏, 삼복). Through the poem, he describes the vivid summer scenery around a pavilion named Geum’un Pavilion (錦雲亭, 금운정) and reflects upon his own life while drinking.

錦雲亭避暑, 示主人 금운정피서, 시주인

Avoiding the Heat at Geum’un Pavilion, Seen by the Owner

月臨山檻外 월림산함외 仄平平仄仄
花落藕塘中 화락우당중 平仄仄平平(韻)
勝境逢知己 승경봉지기 仄仄平平仄
淸樽幸不空 청준행불공 平平仄仄平(韻)

The moonlight comes down upon the mountain beyond the balustrade;
Flower petals drop into the lotus pond.
In this wondrous scenery, I meet and discover myself:
Luckily, my clear wine bottle is not yet empty.

Moon • to come down • mountain • balustrade • outside
Flower • to drop • lotus • pond • amid
Wondrous • place • to meet • to know • oneself
Clear • wine bottle • fortuitously • not • to be empty

林月向人明 림월향인명 平仄仄平平(韻)
荷香透檻淸 하향투함청 平平仄仄平(韻)
肝腸托樽酒 간장탁준주 平平平平仄
一笑話平生 일소화평생 仄仄仄平平(韻)

The forest’s moon turns towards mankind, shimmering.
The lotus’ fragrance surpasses the balustrade’s distinctiveness.
Entrusting my liver and innards to my bottle of wine,
With one burst of laughter, I have conversed all my life.

Forest • moon • to face • man • bright
Lotus • fragrance • to pass through • balustrade • distinct
Liver • innards • to entrust • wine bottle • wine
One • laughter • to converse • all • life


  • Two pentasyllabic truncated verses (五言絶句, 오언절구). The riming character (韻, 운) of first verse is 東(동) and of the second verse is 庚(경). The first verse complies with the rules of recent style poetry (近體詩, 근체시). Furthermore, the second verse does not comply: the fourth line, the second and fourth character are of the same tone. In addition, ending in a riming character in the first line of a pentasyllabic poem is generally rare. (This sudden and perhaps intentional break in form in the second verse may be an indication of the poet’s inebriated state.)
  • 錦雲亭(금운정) – It seems that there have been a number of pavilions with the same name, including two that are still existent. It is uncertain which one Song Namsu is referring to.
  • Korean translation of the poem available here (한국어번역).
Donga Ilbo March 20 1930

March 20, 1930 edition of Dong-A Ilbo (東亞日報, 동아일보) (Source).

One of my other interests besides Classical Chinese is astronomy. Today, with New Horizons, the first probe ever to explore Pluto, having flown by the dwarf planet, I checked somewhat frequently on various websites for news about the spacecraft. As I read for the umpteenth time about the history of Pluto’s discovery, I started to wonder: when did Koreans first hear of the discovery? In America, astronomer Clyde Tombaugh had found the celestial object on February 18, 1930. Its discovery was announced later on March 13. The name “Pluto” was officially adopted on March 24. To find out more about Koreans’ first reception of the discovery, I checked on Naver’s archive of old newspapers. The earliest reference I could find was from an article in the March 20 edition of Dong-A Ilbo, not too long after its first announcement. Here are a few sentences from the article:

Discovery of a New Planet Belonging to the Solar System:
From Lowell Observatory in America

(Telegraphed from Cambridge) According to the Harvard University Astronomical Research Center’s announcement, Percival’s Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona State is said to have discovered what they believe is a new, fifteenth celestial object that belongs to the solar system as the ninth planet near Neptune. This new planet cannot be seen without the use of the most advanced telescope in the world …

Lowell Observatory is named after Percival Lowell, who passed away in 1916. He predicted the position and existence of a new planet. This was the result of research long speculated regarding the gravitational tugs on Neptune by the new planet.* The discovery of Neptune also was based on similar observations.

This discovery of the ninth planet in the solar system is the actualization of predictions made 30 years ago by the deceased Professor Percival Lowell, who designated it as “Planet X” or “Transneptunian.” This discovery, as it is the culmination of several decades of scientific research, is the most important, greatest discovery since the discovery of Neptune in 1864 …

So there you have it. No later than March 20, 1930. (There are other Korean newspapers from that time period, but they are not available on Naver.)

As for the Korean name for Pluto, it is Myeongwangseong (冥王星, 명왕성), literally meaning the “planet of the king of darkness.” This is a liberal translation of “Pluto,” who in Greek mythology is the god of the underworld. This Chinese character translation was first coined by Japanese astronomer Nijiri Hoei (野尻 抱影, 1885-1977) later that year. His nomenclature was adopted by the Kyoto Astronomical Observatory and soon spread to China and later to Korea.

* The “Planet X” hypothesis has been proven false since then. With Voyager 2’s new measurements of the masses of Uranus and Neptune in 1989, the necessity of a large hypothetical planet beyond the two ice giants was eliminated. With the discovery of thousands of objects in the Kuiper Belt, which encompasses the region just outside Neptune, Pluto was demoted from “planet” to “dwarf planet” in 2006.

Zong Le (宗泐, 종륵, 1317-1391) was a Ming dynasty Buddhist monk of the Linji School (宗, 임제종). He was born in Taizhou (臺州, 대주) in Zhejiang Province (浙江省, 절강성); his original surname (俗姓, 속성) was Zhou (周, 주); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Jitan (季潭, 계담); and his pen name (號, 호) was Quanshi (全室, 전실). From childhood, Zong Le disliked the mundane world. At the age of 8, he entered Jingci Temple (淨寺, 정자사) to study under the tutelage of the head monk, Xiaoyin Daxin (笑訢, 소은대흔). He progressed, and attained tonsure (剃度, 체도) at the age of 14 and was ordained a monk (具戒, 구족계) at the age of 20. After being ordained, Zong Le continued his studies and resided at various temples, including Shuixi (水西寺, 수서사) and Zhongtianzhu (中寺, 중천축사) Temples. At the command of the Ming Emperor, he was posted at Tianjie Temple (天寺, 천계사), where he was tasked with compiling and editing the Chinese Buddhist Canon (大經, 대장경). To further his work, Zong Le traveled to the countries west of China to retrieve more texts. Upon his return, Zong Le was appointed as the head monk of all of China (僧祿世, 승록사우선세). Because of his run-ins with jealous court officials, however, Zong Le did not stay long and retired from the post to live in solitude. At the age of 74, he passed away (入寂, 입적) at Shifo Temple (石佛寺, 석불사) in Jiangpu (江浦, 강포). 

In the poem below, Zong Le frets about the heat of a summer night. Under the solar terms of the traditional Chinese calendar, the hottest days of the season were supposed to fall between the Minor Heat (小暑, 소서) and the Major Heat (大暑, 대서). These days fall around July 7 and July 22 respectively every year on the Western Gregorian Calendar, and mark when the Sun is between the celestial longitudes of 105 and 130 degrees.

暑夜 서야

Blistering Night

此夜炎蒸不可當 차야염증불가당 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)
開門高樹月蒼蒼 개문고수월창창 平平平仄仄平平(韻)
天河只在南樓上 천하지재남루상 平平仄仄平平仄
不借人間一滴凉 불차인간일적량 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)

This night’s sweltering dampness — I cannot bear.
With the door opened, upon the tall tree, the moon is blue and azure.
The heavenly stream only lies above the southern pavilion,
But does not even lend mankind one droplet of its coolness.


This • night • heat • steam • not • can • to suffer
To open • door • high • tree • moon • blue • blue
Heaven • stream • only • to exist • south • pavilion • above
Not • to borrow • man • among • one • droplet • cool


  • Heptasyllabic truncated verse (七言絶句, 칠언절구). Riming character (韻, 운) is 陽(양). The poem generally complies with the rules of recent style poetry (近體詩, 근체시).
  • 天河(천하) – Literally “heavenly stream.” Refers to the Milky Way.
  • Korean translation available here.
Rhee Syngman on Time Cover

President Rhee Syngman on the cover of October 16, 1950 edition of Time Magazine (Source)

Rhee Syngman (李承晩, 이승만, 1875-1965) was a Korean independence activist, the first President of the Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea in Shanghai, and the first, second, and third President of the Republic of Korea — and a controversial one at that. He was of the Jeonju Yi Clan (全州李氏, 전주이씨); his childhood name (兒名, 아명) was Seungryong (承龍, 승룡); and his pen name (號, 호) was Unam (雩南, 우남).

Like so many did before him, Rhee Syngman started his studies at a Confucian school on the path to taking the civil service examination. However, when the Gabo Reforms of 1894 (甲午改革, 갑오개혁) abolished the examinations, he enrolled at the American Methodist founded Paichai Academy (培材學堂, 배재학당), where he learned English and adopted Protestantism. He also began taking an active role in the independence movement. With the outset of the Russo-Japanese War in 1904, he went with a delegation to the United States to request aid from President Theodore Roosevelt. Although the delegation failed its objective, Rhee Syngman stayed behind and received education, eventually obtaining a doctorate from Princeton. Shortly after graduating, he returned to Korea, which had now become a Japanese colony, but fled for America just two years after. In 1919, Rhee Syngman was elected in absentia as the first president of the Provisional Government of Korea then based in Shanghai. He spent most of his presidency, however, back in the United States, repeatedly asking for aid but to little avail. In 1925, the Provisional Government impeached Rhee Syngman for abuse of powers and removed him from office.

With Japan’s surrender on August 15, 1945, Rhee Syngman returned to Korea along with American forces. In 1948, he was elected in landslide victory in the National Assembly and inaugurated as the first President of the Republic of Korea. Upon taking office, Rhee Syngman took a very harsh stance against Communists, and actively attempted to root out Communism wherever it was perceived to exist. His government oversaw several massacres of civilians, the most infamous of which occurred on Jeju Island from 1948 to 1949. (The threat of Communism was arguably quite real, but his methods against civilians are still of much controversy.) When North Korea invaded on June 25, 1950, he fled Seoul only two days after and moved the capital temporarily to Busan (釜山, 부산). Rhee Syngman requested for American intervention, and this time was successful in securing assistance under the banner of the United Nations. He directed the government and war efforts from Busan for most of the war.

After the war in 1954, knowing that he was unpopular in the National Assembly, Rhee Syngman amended the constitution to allow for direct election of the presidency, and in 1956 won the presidential election after his opponent passed away shortly before the vote. With the vice presidential elections in 1960, Rhee Syngman was accused of rigging the elections, when both opponents coincidentally died before the vote. This sequence of events triggered the widespread protests of the April 19 Movement. Just eight days later on April 27, 1960, surrounded by protesters, Rhee Syngman resigned and fled Korea to America. He spent the remainder of his life in Hawaii where he passed away in 1965. Rhee Syngman is survived by no direct descendants, as he did not have children of his own. He did, however, adopt a distant family member who is still currently alive as of this post.

However controversial his legacy, little known even in Korea is the fact that Rhee Syngman was well-versed in Classical Chinese. While Rhee Syngman is not the last Korean president to have received traditional Confucian education (the much more favorably remembered President Kim Daejung was), he is the perhaps the last Korean head of state to have an extensive collection of Classical Chinese poetry. The following poem is from the Korean War, the 65th anniversary of which is this week. Rhee Syngman composed this poem during the spring of 1951 while in Busan.

戰時春 전시춘

Wartime Spring

半島山河漲陣烟 반도산하창진연 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)
胡旗洋帆翳春天 호기양범예춘천 平平仄仄仄平平(韻)
彷徨盡是無家客 방황진시무가객 平平仄仄平平仄
漂泊誰非辟穀仙 표박수비벽곡선 平仄平平仄仄平(韻)
城市遺墟如古壁 성시유허여고벽 平仄仄平平仄仄
山川燒地起新田 산천요지기신전 平平平仄仄平平(韻)
東風不待干戈息 동풍불대간과식 平平仄仄仄平仄
細草遍生敗壘邊 세초편생패루변 仄仄仄平仄仄平(韻)

The peninsula and its mountains and rivers brim with the encampments’ smoke;
Brutish Chinese standards and Oceanic Barbarians’ sails cover the spring sky.
Wandering and itinerant, all are homeless travelers;
Roaming and vagabond, who is not a grain-refusing hermit?
The remnant ruins of the town’s market are like old ramparts;
The smoldering grounds of the mountains and streams give rise to new paddies.
The easterly winds do not await the resting of spears and lances.
Thinly spread grass sprout all around, surrounding the fallen fort.


  • Heptasyllabic regulated poem (七言律詩, 칠언율시). Riming character (韻, 운) is 先(선). The poem generally complies with the rules of recent style poetry (近體詩, 근체시).
  • 胡(호) – Refers to the Chinese. Before the fall of the Ming dynasty, the character was used to refer to northern peoples such as the Mongols and Manchus. However, after the Ming dynasty was conquered by the Manchus, many Korean writers believing themselves to be last remnant of Sinitic civilization used this character to refer to all Chinese in general. The People’s Republic of China intervened in the Korean War in October 1950.
  • 洋(양) – Refers to Westerners, more specifically, the Americans.
  • 辟穀(벽곡) – Refers to refraining from grains, and instead eating jujubes, pine needles, dates, and the like.
  • Korean translation available here. More of Rhee Syngman’s Classical Chinese poetry categorized by theme can be found here.
Heo Baekryeon - Four Seasons

Four Seasons’ Mountains and Rivers (山水 春夏秋冬, 산수 춘하추동) by Heo Baekryeon (許百鍊, 허백련, 1891-1977), one time student of Jeong Manjo (Source)

Jeong Manjo (鄭萬朝, 정만조, 1858-1936) was a late Chosun dynasty bureaucrat and colonial era historian and scholar. He was born in Seoul into the Dongrae Jeong Clan (東萊鄭氏, 동래정씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Daegyeong (大卿, 대경); and his pen name (號, 호) was Mujeong (茂亭, 무정). In 1889, he passed the civil service examination and arose quickly through the ranks, becoming the Third Minister of the Six Ministries (參議, 참의) by 1894. In 1896, however, Jeong Manjo was implicated in the assassination of Empress Myeongseong (明成皇后, 명성황후, 1851-1895), and was sentenced to a 15 year banishment to Jindo (珍島, 진도), an island off the southwestern corner of the Korean peninsula. While in exile, Jeong Manjo established a Confucian school (書堂, 서당) to teach Confucian classics to the locals (including the painter above). He was released early from his banishment in 1907 by the Japanese. He was soon reinstated to what remained of the Chosun bureaucracy as the First Counselor at the Gyujanggak (奎章閣副提學, 규장각부제학), and tasked with compiling a history titled The Precious Mirror of Succeeding Dynasties (國朝寶鑑, 국조보감) for the reigns of King Heonjong (憲宗, 헌종, 1827-1849, r. 1834-1849) and Cheoljong (哲宗, 철종, 1831-1863, r. 1849-1863). When Korea was annexed in 1910, the Japanese colonial general-government (朝鮮總督府, 조선총독부) offered him positions in the Office of Managing the Rites of the Yi Dynasty (李王職典祀官, 이왕직전사관), Central Directorate (中樞院, 중추원), and the Chosun History Compilation Committee (朝鮮史編修會, 조선사편수회). As part of the History Compilation Committee, Jeong Manjo was tasked with compiling the records of Emperors Gojong (高宗, 고종, 1852-1919, r. 1897-1907) and Sunjong (純宗, 순종, 1874-1926, r. 1907-1910) to lend legitimacy to Japan’s occupation of the peninsula. He also later became a professor at Keijou Imperial University (京城帝國大學, 경성제국대학) (now Seoul National University) and the Director (大提學, 대제학) at the Institute of Confucian Classics Studies (經學院, 경학원), an association of pro-Japanese Confucian scholars.

While Jeong Manjo is formally recognized by a Korean government commission responsible for investigating colonial era activities as a pro-Japanese collaborator, like many other collaborators, some of his works are still considered valuable. He excelled at Classical Chinese, especially in composing poetry and a specific type of prose known as four-six character lines (四六文, 사륙문 or 駢儷文, 변려문). During his exile in Jindo, Jeong Manjo composed a poetry collection detailing the customs of the islanders titled The Kind Waves’ Drippy Brush (筆, 은파유필). In the poem below, he describes the scenery of the island and its people during the Dano Festival (端午, 단오). It falls on the fifth day of the fifth month on the Lunar Calendar, which is June 20 this year on the Gregorian Calendar. While seldom celebrated today, the festival is associated with various traditional Korean customs including women washing their hair in water that was boiled with sweet flags (菖蒲, 창포), which is hinted below.

端午 단오

Dano Festival

家家楊柳彩繩飛 가가양류채승비 平平平仄仄平平(韻)
隊隊菖蒲寶髻輝 대대창포보계휘 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)
映街紫奈朱櫻實 영가자내주앵실 仄平仄仄平平仄
烘日香羅細葛衣 홍일향라세갈의 平仄平平仄仄平(韻)
此鄕不識繁華好 차향불식번화호 仄平仄仄平平仄
遠客飜疑節序違 원객번의절서위 仄仄平平仄仄平(韻)
出色石榴花一樹 출색석류화일수 仄仄仄平平仄仄
短墻西甬對斜暉 단장서용대사휘 仄平平仄仄平平(韻)

House by house, the willows’ beautiful twines fly;
Bunch by bunch, the sweet flags’ precious topknots gleam.
Covering the streets are purple crab apples and red cherry trees’ fruits;
Shimmering in the sun are fragrant silks and thin arrowroot clothe.
These villagers do not know how to indulge in luxuries;
Travelers from afar fall flat in confusion over their etiquette transgressions.
The streaming, colorful pomegranate flowers on one tree,
Along the street bounded by low walls on the west, face the inclining sunshine.


House • house • willows • willows • color • string • fly
Group • group • iris • iris • treasure • topknot • shine
Cover • streets • purple • crab apples • red • cherry tree • fruits
Shimmer • sun • fragrant • silk • thin • arrowroot • clothe
This • village • not • know • luxury • extravagance • enjoy
Distant • traveler • fall • confuse • order • order • transgress
Special • color • stone • pomegranate • flower • one • tree
Short • wall • west • street • face • aslant • sunshine


  • Heptasyllabic regulated poem (七言律詩, 칠언율시). Riming character (韻, 운) is 微(미). The poem generally complies with the rules of recent style poetry (近體詩, 근체시), except for the loss of inversion and adhesion rules (反粘法, 반점법) between the first and second and between the second and third couplets (失粘, 실점 or 失簾, 실렴). The second character of each line is: //////仄/平. The inversion and adhesion rules were not considered set-in-stone rules until the late Tang dynasty period, and most poems from pre- and early Tang dynasty times did not follow them. Regardless, there are many examples after this period.
  • 甬(용) – The character by itself refers to a street surrounded by walls.
  • Korean translation available here.
  • Korean newspaper article on Jeong Manjo’s legacy here.

Big Dipper asterism, part of the Ursa Major constellation (Source)

Quan Deyu (權德輿, 권덕여, 759-818) was a mid-Tang dynasty period (唐, 당, 618-907) bureaucrat and poet. He was born in Tianshui (天水, 천수); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Zaizhi (載之, 재지); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Wengong (文公, 문공). From an early age, Quan Deyu was recognized for his literary talents. By the age of 15, he had already published a volume containing hundreds of his poems in the Collection by a Child Ignoramus (童蒙集, 동몽집). When Tang Emperor Dezong (唐德宗, 당 덕종, 742-805, r. 779-805) heard of him, he appointed Quan Deyu to the prestigious positions of the Scholar of the Ministry of Ceremonies (士, 태상박사) and Drafting Official of the Secretariat (中書舍人, 중서서인). During his time at the Ministry of Rites, Quan Deyu was tasked on three occasions with selecting qualified candidates from the imperial examination. He especially excelled at choosing candidates from the countryside, who were often overlooked, thereby earning the nickname “Obtainer of [Talented] Men” (得人, 득인). By being favored at the imperial court, Quan Deyu was promoted to higher positions later on. During the reign of Tang Emperor Xianzong (唐憲宗, 당 헌종, 778-820, r. 805-820), he became the Minister of Rites (禮部尚書, 예부상서) and Regional Governor of the Shannan West Circuit (山西道節度使, 산남서도 절도사). Few years into his last post, Quan Deyu became gravely ill, and decided to return to his home village but passed away en route.

His own literary talents were recognized well after his death. His works appear in both the Complete Literary Works of Tang (文, 전당문) and the Complete Tang Poems (全唐詩, 전당시), anthologies that were compiled in the 19th and 18th centuries respectively. In the poem below, Quan Deyu tersely describes the celestial order in relation to the Earth’s seasons, in particular reflecting upon the Summer Solstice (夏至, 하지). The Summer Solstice marks the day when the Sun is at the celestial longitude of 90 degrees, and falls around June 21 or 22 on the Western Gregorian Calendar. 

夏至日作 하지일작

Written on Summer Solstice Day

璇樞無停運 선구무정운 平平平平仄
四序相錯行 사서상착행 仄仄平仄平(韻)
寄言赫羲景 기언혁희경 仄平仄平仄
今日一陰生 금일일음생 平仄仄平平(韻)

The celestial pivot, without stopping, translates;
The four orders, mutually staggered, travel.
Send a message to the bright, shining sun:
Today, the first of the Yin (陰, 음) arises.


Star gauge • pivot • without • to stop • to move
Four • arrangement • mutually • to stagger • to travel
To send • message • bright • bright • sunlight
Today • day • one • Yin • to arise


  • Pentasyllabic truncated verse (五言絶句, 오언절구) with an invocation of an exception. Riming character (韻, 운) is 庚(경). This poem has — I believe — two examples of broken form (拗體, 요체), which refers to specific types of violation of the conventional tonal meter that were considered acceptable, and were frequently employed in recent style poems during the Tang and Song dynasty periods in China.
    • The first couplet exhibits a doubly broken form (雙拗, 쌍요). In the first line, the fourth character (停, 정) should be an oblique tone (仄, 측), but is a plain tone (平, 평) thereby breaking (拗, 요) the tonal meter (平仄, 평측); however, the couplet is “saved” (救, 구) with the use of a plain tone in the third character (相, 상) of the second line.
    • The third line exhibits a singly broken form (單拗, 단요). In this line, the third character (赫, 혁) should be a plain tone, but is an oblique tone; however, the line is saved with the use of a level tone in the fourth character (羲, 희).
  • 樞(구) – Literally “pivot.” Refers to Alpha Ursae Majoris, which is also referred to as Dhube in English. It is at the front of the Big Dipper asterism.
  • 四序(사서) – Literally “four orders.” Refers to the four seasons.
  • 今日一陰生(금일일음생) – Under the Yin and Yang duality (陰陽, 음양), the Yin is said to arise between during the the Summer Solstice and the Winter Solstice, as the days become shorter.
  • Korean translation available here.

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