Shin Saimdang – Weeping Over the Departing from My Benevolent Mother

Shinsaimdang (申師任堂, 신사임당, 1504-1551) appears on the 50,000 Won note and was a Korean calligrapher, artist, and poet, most well known for being the mother of Yi I Yulgok (李珥, 이이, 1536 – 1584; 栗谷, 율곡), who appears on the 5,000 Won note. Her courtesy name (字, 자 or 堂號, 당호) was Inseon (仁善, 인선) and her pen name (號, 호) was Saimdang (師任堂, 사임당). She was of the Pyeongsan Shin clan (平山申氏, 평산신씨). Shinsaimdang is viewed as the model of Confucian motherhood, with the appellation “the benevolent mother, good wife” (賢母良妻, 현모양처, Hyeonmoyangcheo), for being very well educated in the Confucian classics and excelling in the arts.

泣別慈母 읍별자친

Weeping Over the Departing from My Benevolent Mother

慈親鶴髮在臨瀛 자친학발재임영
身向長安獨去情 신향장안독거정
回首北村時一望 회수북촌시일망
白雲飛下暮山靑 백운비하모산청

My benevolent mother and her crane-white hair reside in Imyeong.
With this body facing Jang’an, there is a feeling of departure and loneliness.
Turning my head to the northern village, I gaze once again:
The white clouds fly down and the dark mountains turn green.

Notes:

  • Jang’an (長安, 장안) is the name of the old Chinese capital, Chang’an, which is modern day Xi’an (西安, 서안). Here, it refers to Seoul
  • Imyeong (臨瀛, 임영) is the old name for Gangreung (江陵, 강릉).

Characters:

  • 瀛 (영) – Sea or ocean (바다).
  • 慈親 (자친) – Literally means “the benevolent parent.” It refers to one’s own mother. 嚴親 (엄친), which literally means “the stern parent,” refers to one’s own father.

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