Yi Hwang (李滉, 이황, 1501-1570) was a Chosun dynasty Neo-Confucian scholar and literati bureaucrat. He was of the Jinbo Yi Clan (眞寶李氏, 진보이씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Gyeongho (景浩, 경호); his pen name (號, 호) was Toegye (退溪, 퇴계); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Munsun (文純, 문순). As a Neo-Confucian Scholar, he is famous for writing several treatises on Neo-Confucianism and establishing the Dosan Seoweon (陶山書院, 도산서원), a private Confucian academy. As a literati bureaucrat, he was appointed various offices and served four kings of the Chosun dynasty. Upon his death, he was posthumously promoted to the highest ministerial office and bestowed a posthumous name. Yi Hwang first appeared on the 1000 Won note in 1983, when the Bank of Korea started printing Korean Confucian scholars on all of its currency notes.
At Mount Do in the Moonlit Night a Poem on the Plum Tree
Alone I lean on the window to the mountain; the night hue becomes cold.
At the tip of the plum tree, the moon rises, perfectly round and circular.
Even if I should not again call the winds to arrive,
Naturally, there is pure fragrance filling the space of my house.
Walking in my wooden shoes in the courtyard, the moon follows me.
At the edges of the plum tree, I travel around; how many times did I revolve around?
As the night grows deep, sitting for awhile, it becomes blurry and I forget to stand up.
The fragrance fills my clothes and the shadow fills my body.
The late-blossoming plum is magnificent and still more recognizes the truth.
Therefore, it certainly knows me and that I fear the cold season.
What a pity! If this night justly revives me from my illness,
Then I can make me the entire night a man facing the moon.
- Mount Do (陶山, 도산, Do San) is a mountain north of Andong (安東, 안동).
- 梢(초) – The end tip of a tree branch (나뭇가지의 끝).
- 喚(환) – To call (부르다).
- 屧(섭) – Wooden shoes (나막신).
- 趁(진) – To follow (쫓다).
- 繞(요) – To cover (두르다).
- 渾(훈) – To be blurry (흐리다).
- 兄(형) – Here, to be excellent (훌륭하다).
- 宵(소) – Night (밤).