Shin Gwangsu – During the Minor Cold While Riding a Horse

SohanShin Gwangsu (申光洙, 신광수, 1712-1775) was a Chosun literati bureaucrat. He was of the Goryeong Shin Clan (高靈申氏, 고령신씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Seong’yeon (聖淵, 성연); and his pen name (號, 호) was Seokbuk (石北, 석북). Below is a poem about the Minor Cold, or Sohan (小寒, 소한), one of the 24 solar terms (節氣, 절기) of the traditional Lunar Calendar. The days on which solar terms fall changes year to year on the Lunar Calendar, but not on the Western Gregorian Calendar. This is because they are calculated on where the Earth is positioned on its orbit around the Sun (or the Sun around the Earth, depending on the frame of reference).

小寒馬上 소한마상

During the Minor Cold, While Riding a Horse

甲申冬末, 受由下鄕. 中路以官事牽回入京. 曉發葛山, 是日小寒寒甚, 馬上得一首.
갑신동말, 수유하향. 중로이관사견회입경. 효발갈산, 시일소한한심, 마상득일수.

At the end of the winter of the Gapshin year, I received a leave of absence and returned to my village. In the middle of the road, I was dragged back by official duties and entered the Capital. At dawn, I left Mount Gal. This day was the Minor Cold and it was very cold. While riding the horse, I thought of one poem.

靑衫獨犯小寒行 청삼독범소한행
月色鷄聲蒲曉程 월색계성포효정
一馬凍蹄聞寂歷 일마동제문적력
衆山來勢認分明 중산래세인분명
人生抵老猶爲客 인생저로유위객
世事多端又入京 세사다단우입경
何處芝歌深谷裏 하처지가심곡리
不知風雪掩柴荊 불지풍설엄시형

In my blue sleeves, I alone, during the Minor Cold, am travelling.
The moonlight and the cock’s crow are like cattail along the morning road.
One horse is on its freezing hooves, listening to its silent passage;
Many mountains come with its strength, recognized clearly.
A man’s life, even if it grows old, is nevertheless a guest;
The world’s affairs are multifaceted, and I again enter the capital.
In what place are the songs of the grass within the deep valley?
I do not know; the winds and snow cover the twig and thornbush gate.

Notes:

  • Mount Gal (葛山, 갈산) is a mountain in modern day Incheon Metropolitan City (仁川廣域市, 인천광역시). 

Characters:

  • 蒲(포) – Cattail (부들).
  • 蹄(제) – Heel (굽); to step on (밟다).
  • 掩(암) – To cover (가리다).
  • 柴(시) – Brushwood (섶).
  • 荊(형) – Thornbush (가시나무).
  • 柴荊(시형) – Refers to a gate made out of twigs (사립문).

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