Yi Gyubo – While Picking Flowers

Yi Gyubo (李奎報, 이규보, 1168-1241) was a literary servant and scholar from the Goryeo Dynasty (高麗, 고려, 918–1392). He was of the Yeoju Yi Clan (驪州李氏, 여주이씨). His courtesy name (字, 자) was Chun’gyeong (春卿, 춘경); his pen names (號, 호) were Baek’un’geosa (白雲居士, 백운거사) and Jiheon (止軒, 지헌); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Munsun (文順, 문순). After passing the civil servant exam (文科, 문과) in 1189, he held various positions in the Goryeo government. He was also a well renowned poet and prose writer and the most famous of his work is the Collection of the Eastern Country’s Prime Minister Lee’s Works (東國李相國集, 동국이상국집).

切花行 절화행

While Picking Flowers

牡丹含露眞珠顆 모란함로진주과
美人折得窓前過 미인절득창전과
含笑問檀郞 함소문단랑
花强妾貌强 화강첩모강
檀郞故相戱 단랑고상희
强道花枝好 강도화지호
美人妬花勝 미인투화승
踏破花枝道 답파화지도
花若勝於妾 화약승어첩
今宵花同宿 금소화동숙

A peony holds a dew like grains of pearl;
A beautiful lady, having trimmed one and picking it up, passes before the window.
Holding a smile, she asks her husband:
“Is the flower more beautiful? Or is your wife’s complexion more beautiful?”
The husband purposefully teases her:
“More beautiful, I say, is the flower; its branches I like.”
The beautiful lady turns jealous at the flower being favored;
Stomping and breaking the flower and its branches, she says:
“If this flower is more favored than your wife,
Tonight, go sleep with the flower!”


  • 强(강) has been translated as “more beautiful”; however, the literal translation would be “stronger” (강하다) or “more vital” (왕성하다).


  • 牡丹(모란) – Peony (모란).
  • 顆(과) – Grains (낟알).
  • 檀(단) – A type of birch tree (박달나무).
  • 道(도) – Here, it means “to say” (말하기를).
  • 故(고) – Here, it means “purposefully” or “intentionally” (고의로, 일부러).
  • 妬(투) – To become jealous (강샘하다).
  1. very nice post 귀원. thanks. i hope you can also post some 사자소학 as i’m a beginner. 🙂 at first i thought the 文科 and 科擧 were the same but now i think i know the difference. 文科 is just a kind of 科擧, right ? in order to be a 文官 ??? i found out two other types of exams online, one was the 雜科 and the other 武科. 🙂 anyway, i learned a lot from this, keep it up. 🙂

    • 歸源 said:

      Even though I know how to read 漢文 pretty well, I am somewhat unfamiliar with Korean and Chinese history. I am guessing there were a number of tests.

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