Kim Ryeong – Moonlit Night

Kim Ryeong

Kim Ryeong (金坽, 김령, 1577-1641) was a literati bureaucrat of the Chosun Dynasty. He was of the Gwangsan Kim Clan (光山金氏, 광산김씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Jajun (子峻, 자준); his pen name (號, 호) was Gye’am (溪巖, 계암); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Munjeong (文貞, 문정). During the Japanese Invasions of Korea (壬辰倭亂, 임진왜란, 1592-1598), he accompanied the army as a subordinate of Ryu Seongryong (柳成龍, 류성룡, 1542-1607). During the Second Manchu Invasion of Korea (丙子胡亂, 병자호란, 1636-1637), he emptied out his family fortunes to pay for the provisions of the Righteous Army (義兵, 의병), the Korean irregular militia.

 月夜 월야

Moonlit Night

明月入我戶 명월입아호
獨坐鳴瑤琴 독좌명요금
萬籟自寥寂 만뢰자요적
悠然中夜心 유연중야심

The bright moon enters my house.
Sitting alone, the jade zither echoes.
Ten-thousand flutes accord in loneliness
Composed is the midnight mind.

琴鳴月色靜 금명월색정
月白琴聲淸 월백금성청
撫琴見明月 무금견명월
此夜難爲情 차야난위정

The zither echoes; the moonlight is quiet.
The moon is white; the zither’s ring is pure.
Plucking the zither, I gaze at the bright moon.
Tonight, difficult is it to calm my mood.

Notes:

  • The poem is composed of two pentasyllabic truncated verses (絶句, 절구). 

Characters:

  • 瑤(옥) – Beautiful jade (아름다운 옥).
  • 萬籟(만뢰) – Refers to various sounds arising from the natural world.
  • 籟(뢰) – Sound (소리); echo (울림).
  • 寥(료) – To be lonely or solitary (쓸쓸하다).
2 comments
  1. McCawley Sewell Anjou said:

    How about…

    The bright moon enters my house,
    sits alone and plays the jade zither.
    Ten thousand flutes accord in silence
    as serene idleness fills the dead of the night.

    The zither echoes when the moonlight is calm.
    The moon is pale, as the zither rings pure.
    Caressing the zither, I gaze at the bright moon.
    Tonight, difficult it is to calm my mood.

    • 歸源 said:

      That’s a good translation too.

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