Kim Yuk – At Yeonggak Bay, Meeting the Day of the White Dew

BaekroKim Yuk (金堉, 김육, 1580-1658) was a Chosun literati bureaucrat. He was of the Cheongpung Kim Clan (淸風金氏, 청풍김씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Baekhu (伯厚, 백후); his pen name (號, 호) was Jamgok (潛谷 , 잠곡); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Munjeong (文貞, 문정). As a bureaucrat, he is most notable for having vigorously advocated for the “Grand Union Law,” or Daedongbeop (大同法, 대동법). This law eliminated the prior tax system of requiring special types of goods from various parts of the country with a uniform system of taxing grain from all throughout the peninsula.

In the poem below, Kim Yuk writes about Baekro (白露, 백로), literally “White Dew,” one of the 24 solar terms of the calendar year. Baekro is when the sun is between 165 and 180 degrees on its celestial longitude. As a solar term, which month and day it falls on varies on the lunar calendar from year to year but always falls on September 7th on the Gregorian Calendar. In Korean culture, the food traditionally associated with this day is grape. Indeed, another name for the period between Baekro and Chuseok (秋夕, 추석) is the “Ten Day Season of Grapes,” or Podosunjeol (葡萄旬節, 포도순절).

羚角灣逢白露節 영각만봉백로절
次書狀(李晩榮)韻 차서장(이만영)운

At Yeonggak Bay, Meeting the Day of the White Dew
Borrowing the Rimes of Diplomat Yi Man’yeong

白露驚寒節 백로경한절
舟中得氣先 주중득기선
遙憐天際月 요련천제월
光細未團圓 광세미단원

The day of the white dew startles the cold season.
In the boat, I sense the energy first.
Afar, how pitiful is the moon at the edge of heaven!
The light is faint; it is not yet round and circular.

Definitions:

antelope • horn • bay • white • dew • day
to borrow • records • book • (apricot tree • to be late • glory) • rime

white • dew • to startle • cold • season
boat • middle • to obtain • energy • first
afar • to pity • heaven • edge • moon
light • to be thin • not yet • round • round

Notes:

  • This blogger is unsure where Yeonggak Bay (羚角灣, 영각만) is.
  • Seojang (書狀, 서장) was a literati bureaucratic position that had the duty of accompanying an diplomat and making records of the diplomat’s trip.
  • Yi Man’yeong (李晩榮, 이만영, 1604-1672) was Kim Yuk’s fellow literati bureaucrat.
3 comments
  1. jeff said:

    In Classical Chinese, the figurative meaning of 團圓 means to “reunite”. It came from a story of broken jade bracelet as tokens so that when the halves are reunited, the bracelet becomes round and perfect again.

    • 歸源 said:

      Although I’m unaware of that story, I do not think that’s the meaning of 團圓 here. He’s using the word to describe the new/waxing moon. 白露 typically falls 10-15 days before 仲秋, which occurs on a full moon.

  2. jeff said:

    Yes, I know it is literally describing the waxing and waning of the moon. It is also a pun to infer that kind of meaning. Classical Chinese poetry likes oblique references. Looking at the context and its imagery, it has a sense of longing. The poem can be summarized as the first line opening the time, the 2nd line, the place, the 3rd line, the main mood and the last line the hope. Just my opinion and discussion. For example, in Tang Dynasty poems, each time there is reference to the Han Dynasty, 漢王/皇/家, it is just a reference to the Tang Dynasty ruler🙂

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