Jeong Sugang – Looking at the Lanterns on the Day of the First Full Moon

Full MoonJeong Sugang (丁壽崗, 정수강, 1454-1527) was a Chosun dynasty literati bureaucrat. He was of the Naju Jeong Clan (羅州丁氏, 나주정씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Bulbung (不崩, 불붕); and his pen name (號, 호) was Weolheon (月軒, 월헌).  He was implicated with the Second Literati Purge, Gapja Sahwa (甲子士禍, 갑자사화), and temporarily dismissed from his government post.

In the poem below, he writes about the scenery of Seoul during the First Full Moon of the year, Jeongweol Daeboreum (正月大–, 정월대보름) or alternatively Sangweonjeol (上元節, 상원절). This holiday falls on the 15th day of the first month, and is still celebrated in Korea today.

上元觀燈 상원관등

Looking at the Lanterns on the Day of the First Full Moon

百萬長安繡戶開 백만장안수호개
張燈處處好樓臺 장등처처호루대
惟知明月隨人去 유지명월수인거
不見香塵逐馬來 불견향진축마래
新歲流光三五夜 신세류광삼오야
少年行樂十千杯 소년행락십천배
繁華滿眼看無厭 번화만안간무염
玉漏銅壺且莫催 옥루동호차막최

The million embroidered houses of Jang’an open.
Lit lanterns are everywhere on the pretty towers.
Only known is that the bright moon follows man and departs;
Not seen are fragrant dust that chases horses and arrives.
The new year flows lights on third and fifth night;
The young travel joyously with ten thousand cups.
Success and prosperity fills the eye, and it sees no annoyance.
The jade clock and copper jar also are not hurried.

Notes:

  • Jang’an (長安, 장안) is one of the old capitals in ancient Chinese history and is often used by Korean poets to refer to Seoul.

Characters:

  • 繡(수) – Embroidered (수놓다).
  • 三五(삼오) – Refers to the fifteenth day of the month (three times five equals fifteen).

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