Yu Gye – On the Day of the Start of Summer, The Apricot Flowers Start to Blossom

Yu Gye (兪棨, 유계, 1607-1664) was a Chosun dynasty scholar and literati bureaucrat. He was of the Gigye Yu Clan (杞溪兪氏, 기계유씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Mujung (武仲, 무중); his pen name (號, 호) was Shinam (市南, 시남); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Munchung (文忠, 문충). He excelled in the study of etiquette (禮學, 예학) and history. Yu Gye was exiled for taking a bellicose position during the Second Manchu Invasion of Korea (丙子胡亂, 병자호란).

In the poem below, he writes about the Start of Spring, or Ipha (立夏, 입하). It is one of the twenty-four solar terms of the year and falls around May 5th of each year. On this day, frogs were supposed to start croaking, earthworms were supposed to come out of the ground, and cucumbers were supposed to sprout.

立夏日杏花初開
입하일행화초개

On the Day of the Start of Summer, The Apricot Flowers Start to Blossom

庭花初綻雨紛繽 정황초탄우분빈
四月關山似早春 사월관산사초춘
遙想故林濃綠晩 요상고림농록만
滿園桃杏總成仁 만원도행총성인

The courtyard’s flowers have started to blossom; the rain in disorder and disarray.
In April, my hometown’s mountain is as if early Spring.
From afar, I think of the old forest, turning deep green late.
Filling the garden are peaches and apricots; they all have achieved benevolence.

Characters:

  • 綻(탄) – To blossom (피다).
  • 關山(관산) – Refers to a mountain near one’s hometown.

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