Kim Yeonghaeng – Gathering to Cook Chrysanthemums

GukhwajeonKim Yeonghaeng (金令行, 김영행, 1673-1755) was a late Chosun dynasty literati bureaucrat. He was of the Andong Kim Clan (安東金氏, 안동김씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Jayu (子裕, 자유); his pen name was Pilunong (弼雲翁, 필운옹). He attained a government post by the merits of his grandfather.

In the poem below, he writes about the joy of having companions while cooking chrysanthemums pancakes, which in Classical Chinese are written as Gukhwajeon (菊花煎, 국화전) or Gukgo (菊餻 or 菊糕, 국고). Chrysanthemum pancakes was associated with the Double Ninth Festival (重陽節, 중양절), which falls on the 9th day of the 9th month on the lunar calendar, as fasting food. The first Korean records of eating pancakes made with chrysanthemum flowers date back to the early 17th century. The use of flowers in general for pancakes dates back even earlier. Gatherings to eat chrysanthemum pancakes were popular when Kim Yeonghaeng composed this poem. Unfortunately, although the custom of making and eating chrysanthemum pancakes and pancakes made with other flowers has survived, the celebration of Double Ninth Festival has become a rare sight in Korea since the 1970s.

設煮菊會 설자국회
與伯勖, 一源, 子平同賦. 여백욱, 일원, 자평동부

Gathering to Cook Chrysanthemums
Together with Baek’uk, Il’weon, and Ja’pyeong, Likewise Composing

煮菊東籬下 자국동리하
招邀洞裡人 초요동리인
溪山無事客 계산무사객
江海未歸身 강해미귀신
艸艸盃盤會 초초배반회
欣欣笑語眞 흔흔소어진
玆遊宜更續 자유의갱속
留待臘梅春 류시랍매춘

As I cooked chrysanthemums beneath the eastern fence,
I invited and ushered in people from my village.
In the brooks and mountains, the guests have nothing to do;
To the rivers and seas, this body has not yet returned.
Flowery and merry is the meeting around the alcohol cups and table;
Happily and joyfully, as we laugh, our words become sincere.
As we play now, it is proper that we should continue;
But we stop and await the Spring of the twelfth month apricots.

Notes:

  • Baek’uk (伯勖, 백욱), Il’weon (一源, 일원), and Ja’pyeong (子平, 자평) are presumably the author’s companions. Il’weon is the courtesy name (字, 자) of Yi Byeong’yeon (李秉淵, 이병연, 1671-1751). Ja’pyeong is the courtesy name of Yi Byeongseong (李秉成, 이병성, 1675-1735).
  • The first line of the poem is a reference to a poem by Tao Yuanming ( 陶淵明, 도연명, Do Yeonmyeong, 365-427). The word 東籬(동리), meaning “eastern fence,” appears frequently in Classical Chinese poetry and is associated with being recluse from the mundane world.

結廬在人境 而無車馬喧
결로재인경 이무차마훤
問君何能爾 心遠地自偏
문군하능이 심원지자편
採菊東籬下 悠然見南山
채국동리하 유연견남산
山氣日夕佳 飛鳥相與還
산기일석가 비조상여환
此中有眞意 欲辯已忘言
차중유진의 욕변이망언

A tied together hut is in an area where people live,
But there is no noisiness of horses and carts.
I ask you how can this be?
As the heart grows distant, the land naturally inclines.
Plucking chrysanthemums beneath the eastern fence,
I calmly look at the southern mountain.
The energy mountain makes the evening beautiful;
The flying birds together return.
In the midst of this, there is a true meaning:
I wanted to comment, but I have already forgotten the words.

Characters:

  • 勖(욱) – To exert effort (힘쓰다).
  • 籬(리) – Fence (울타리).
  • 招邀(초요) – To invite and usher.
  • 臘(랍) – Twelfth month of the lunar year (섣달).
3 comments
  1. Thanks for visiting my blog, and really glad to find another blog doing literary translations!

    I’d just like to point out that the lovely poem on chrysanthemums under the eastern fence is not by Du Fu – it’s by Tao Yuanming, that lovely drunken recluse🙂

    • 歸源 said:

      Ah thank you for the correction! I had the two mixed up.

      I was very glad to find your blog as well.

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