Jeong Cheol – Happy New Year

Gabonyeon

Jeong Cheol (鄭澈, 정철,1536-1593) was a Chosun dynasty literati bureaucrat and poet. He was of the Yeon’il Jeong Clan (延日鄭氏, 연일정씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Gyeham (季涵, 계함); his pen name (號, 호) was Songgang (松江, 송강); and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Muncheong (文淸, 문청). In 1561, he passed the civil examinations (科擧, 과거) with the highest score (壯元及第, 장원급제), and later progressed through various bureaucratic positions. In 1591, he was expelled and banished due to a position he took during a succession problem (建儲議問題, 건저의문제). During Hideyoshi’s Japanese Invasion of Korea (壬辰倭亂, 임진왜란, Imjin Waeran, 1592-1598), he was called back into the bureaucracy and served various roles, including visiting the Ming Dynasty (明, 명, Myeong, 1398-1644) to ask for support. He was also a renowned poet, although he is more known for writing vernacular Korean poetry known as Sjio (詩調, 시조). In the poem below, he states his wishes for the new year.

新年祝 五首 신년축 오수

Happy New Year – Five Stanzas

新年祝新年祝 신년축신년축
所祝新年掃犬羊 소축신년소견양
坐使鑾輿廻塞上 좌사란여회새상
仰瞻黃道日重光 앙첨황도일중광

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
What I wish for the New Year is to sweep away the dogs and sheep;
Sitting make the royal carriage to return from the borders.
I turn to look up to ecliptic and the Sun’s heavy rays.

New • year • wishes • new • year • wishes
What • wishes • new • year • to sweep • dogs • sheep
To sit • to order • small bells • carriage • to return • borders • above
To look up • to gaze • yellow • way • Sun • again • light rays

  • 新年祝(신년축) – Literally means “wishes for the New Year” or “prayers for the New Year.”
  • 鑾輿(난여) – A carriage with small bells. Refers to a royal carriage.
  • 黃道(황도) – Ecliptic. Refers to the Sun’s apparent path.

新年祝新年祝 신년축신년축
所祝新年朝著淸 소축신년조저청
痛掃東西南北說 통소동서남북설
一心寅協做昇平 일심인협주승평

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
What I wish for the New Year is that the Royal Court be transparent and clear;
To sweep away very much the chitter-chatter of the East, West, South, and North;
With one heart, to respectfully cooperate and create rising peace.

New • year • wishes • new • year • wishes
What • wishes • new • year • Royal Court • to be apparent • to be clear
Very much • to sweep away • East • West • South • North • talk
One • heart • to respect • to cooperate • to create • to rise • peace

  • 東西南北(동서남북) – Literally “East, West, South, and North.” Refers to the various factions in Chosun Royal Court politics.
  • 昇平(승평) – Literally “rising peace.” Refers to a peaceful world.

新年祝新年祝 신년축신년축
所祝新年年穀豊 소축신년년곡풍
白屋更無民戚戚 백옥갱무민척척
丹墀再聽樂肜肜 단지재청악융융

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
What I wish for the New Year is that the year’s harvest will be plentiful;
In the white houses, there will again be no people worrying and anxious;
On the red floors, there will again be heart music rich and opulent.

New • year • wishes • new • year • wishes
What • wishes • new • year • year • crops • abundant
White • houses • again • to not have • people • anxious • anxious
Red • floors • again • to hear • music • opulent • opulent

  • 白屋(백옥) – Literally “white houses.” Refers to plain, common houses.
  • 丹墀(단지) – Literally “red floors.” Refers to the buildings at the Royal Court.

新年祝新年祝 신년축신년축
所祝新年邦亂平 소축신년방란평
湖海老臣歸故里 호해로신귀고리
臥看梅蘂雪中期 와간매예설중기

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
What I wish for the New Year is that country’s troubles be pacified;
The old bureaucrats of the lakes and seas return to their old villages;
To lie and gaze at the plum tree’s buds during the period of the snowfalls.

New • year • wishes • new • year • wishes
What • wishes • new • year • country • rebellion • to pacify
Lakes • seas • old • bureaucrats • to return • old • village
To lie down • to gaze • plum tree • buds • snow • middle • period

新年祝新年祝 신년축신년축
所祝新年士志堅 소축신년사지견
夷險生死惟一視 이험생사유일시
是非榮辱莫周旋 시비영욕막주선

Happy New Year! Happy New Year!
What I wish for the New Year is that the scholars’ wills become strong;
Levelness and ruggedness and life and death become viewed as only one;
Correctness and wrongness glory and shame be not bent around.

New • year • wishes • new • year • wishes
What • wishes • new • year • scholars • will • to be strong
To be level • to be rugged • life • death • only • one • to see
To be right • to be wrong • glory • shame • not • around • to turn

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