Shin Yu – Shinchuk Year 15th of the 12th Month: Start of Spring

IpchunShin Yu (申濡, 신유, 1610-1665) was a Chosun dynasty literati bureaucrat. He was of the Goryeong Shin Clan (高靈申氏, 고령신씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Guntaek (君澤, 군택); and his pen name (號, 호) was Jukdang (竹堂, 죽당). He rose up through various government posts, becoming Yejochampan (禮曹參判, 예조참판) in 1665. Shin Yu also accompanied Crown Prince Sohyeon (昭顯世子, 소현세자, 1612-1645), who was the first son of King Injo (仁祖, 인조, 1595-1649, r. 1623-1645), when the Crown Prince was taken as a hostage to the Manchu court in Shenyang (瀋陽, 심양, Shimyang) pursuant to the terms of the peace treaty ending the Second Manchu Invasion of Korea (丙子胡亂, 병조호란, 1636).

Below is a poem he wrote on the day known as Start of Spring, or Ipchun (立春, 입춘), one of the 24 solar terms. It falls on February 4th on the Gregorian calendar and varies on the traditional Lunar calendar, because it is dependent on where the Earth is on its celestial longitude on its orbit around the Sun. Ipchun can fall twice on one single year on the Lunar calendar, because on leap years a whole month is added. When this occurs, the second Ipchun is called Jaebongchun (再逢春, 재봉춘), which translates to “meeting spring for the second time.” This is also the case this year.

辛丑臈月十五日立春
신축납월십오일입춘

Shinchuk Year (辛丑, 신축) 15th of the 12th Month:: Start of Spring

改火頻鑽柳 개화빈찬류
流光易老人 류광이로인
三年惟伏枕 삼년유복침
一歲再逢春 일세재봉춘
運遣黃楊厄 운견황양액
盤添細菜新 반첨세채신
歸耕雖太晩 귀경수태만
未害自壬寅 미해자임진

Changing the fire, I often gather willow branches;
With the flowing light, it is easy to become an old person.
For three years, I only have laid on this pillow;
In one year, I again meet the Spring.
Fate has dispatched the misfortune of the yellow willow tree.
On my tray, added is a thin vegetable anew.
I have returned to till, albeit extremely late.
Not yet have I hesitated, but the Imjin year (壬寅, 임진) is coming on its own accord.

Note

  • “Misfortune of the yellow willow tree” (黃楊厄, 황양액) is a reference to a poem by Su Shi (蘇軾, 소식, So Shik, 1037-1101), a poet from the Song Dynasty (宋, 송, Song, 960-1279). It was a folk belief that yellow willow trees grow an inch every year, except during leap years, when they shrink in height by three inches. It also refers to retiring from a government post.

退圃詩 퇴포시

Poem on Returning to the Garden

百丈休牽上瀨船 백장휴견상뢰선
一鉤歸釣縮頭魴 일구귀조축두방
園中草木知無數 원중초목지무수
獨有黃楊厄閏年 독유황양액윤년

A hundred old men rest from pulling up the rapids boat.
With one hook, they return to fishing, tying up heads of yellowtail fish.
Amidst the knoll, the grass and trees know no number.
Alone, there is the misfortune of the yellow willow tree during the leap year.

Characters:

  • 臈(랍) – Twelfth month of the year.
  • 鑽(찬) – To gather (모으다); or to bring (끌다).
  • 歸耕(귀경) – To retire from public office to farm.
  • 鉤(구) – Hook (갈고리).
  • 縮(축) – Here, to tie up (묶다).
  • 魴(방) – Yellowtail (魴魚, 방어).

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