Kim Iman (金履萬, 김이만, 1683-1758) was a Chosun dynasty literati bureaucrat. He was of the Yecheon Kim Clan (醴泉金氏, 예천김씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Jungsu (仲綏, 중수); his pen name was Hakgo (鶴臯, 학고). He is most noted for his actions during the flood in modern day Yangsan (梁山, 양산) in 1740. To divert that flood, it is said that he spent all his wealth in constructing embankments. He also took great pains in fighting against regional tax collector corruption exploiting commoners.
In the poem below, Kim Iman commemorates the Autumnal Equinox, or Chubun (秋分, 추분) as it in known in Korean. As a solar term, the autumnal equinox always falls around September 23rd on the Western Gregorian Calendar, but varies on the traditional Lunar Calendar. On this day, the sun reaches the celestial longitude of 180 degrees: that is, the earth is not tilted with respect to the Sun and the length day and night are approximately the same at all points along the Earth’s surface. One Korean custom on Chubun, as depicted above, is to collect red peppers and lay them out in the sun to dry.
Two Days Before the Autumnal Equinox, Sitting Alone and Borrowing Nong’am’s Rimes
Heaven’s timing and the daytime and nighttime will be evenly allocated.
In my still and quiet mountain cabin, I sit for the arriving sunset glow.
The buckwheat’s woven flowers recognize the white snow;
The rice plants’ leaning ears see the yellow clouds.
On the nine intersections, carriages and horses follow each others’ noise;
Along the three gorges, fishermen and lumberjacks also naturally gather.
Secluded and alone, I clap for awhile, without any companions.
Amid the forest, the chirping birds can only bare to hear it.
Heaven • time • daytime • night • to intend • evenly • to allocate
Still • quiet • mountain • hut • to sit • to arrive • evening sun’s rays
Buckwheat • barley • to weave • flowers • to know • white • snow
Rice (벼) • rice (메벼) • to lean • ears • to see • yellow • clouds
Nine • intersections • carriages • horses • to follow • other • to be noisy
Three • peaks • fishermen • lumberjacks • also • naturally • to gather
To be secluded • alone • for awhile • to clap with hands • to not have • companion • companion
Amid • forest • to chirp • birds • only • to endure • to hear
- 九衢(구구) – Literally means “nine forks” or “nine intersections.” Refers to the busy streets of larger cities.
- 三峽(삼협) – Refers to the Three Gorges in China.