Im Gwangtaek – Scolding the Cat

Kim Deukshin Pajeokdo

Pajeokdo (破寂圖, 파적도) by Kim Deukshin (金得臣, 김득신, 1754-1822)

Im Gwangtaek (林光澤, 임광택, 1719?-1799?) was a Chosun Dynasty poet and petty official. He was of the Boseong Im Clan (寶城林氏, 보성임씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Shijae (施哉, 시재); and his pen name (號, 호) was Ssangbaekdang (雙栢堂, 쌍백당). Not much of his known about his life. He served in a petty government position called Seori (胥理, 서리) in an office at the capital primarily run by the skilled Chung’in class (中人, 중인) named the Gyeong’ajeon (京衙前, 경아전). Also, although he wrote about the same themes as those of his status, it seems that Im Gwangtaek was not active in any of the non-aristocratic poet circles (閭巷詩社, 여항시사). After his death, his grandson-in-law, Kim Jinhang (金鎭恒, 김진항, ?-?), compiled Im Gwangtaek’s poetry and published it in 1817. In the poem below, he complains about his cat — showing that perhaps cats have not changed much in their insolence since the 18th century.

責猫 책묘

Scolding the Cat

不捉穴中鼠 불착혈중서
常偸盤上肉 상투반상육
無肉餒我腹 무육뇌아복
有鼠竊我粟 유서절아속

You do not capture in its rathole the rat;
You always steal the meat off my table.
Not having meat makes my stomach hungry;
Having rats make my grains be stolen.

Not • to capture • hole • inside • rat
Always • to steal • table • above • meat
To not have • meat • to starve • my • stomach
To have • rats • to steal • my • grains

養汝要捉賊 양여요착적
奈汝自作賊 내여자작적
快意一痛打 쾌의일통타
遠逐大路側 원축대로측

I raised you because I need you to capture these thieves,
But why do you yourself become a thief?
With a delighted disposition, I strike you hard once,
Chasing you far away to the side of a large road!

To raise • you • to need • to capture • thieves
How • you • by oneself • to become • thief
Delightful • intent • once • hard • to strike
Afar • to chase • large • road • side

佪偟終不去 회황종불거
暗入床下伏 암입상하복
狡黠良可惡 교힐양가오
題詩寄深責 제시기심책

Roaming and wandering, in the end you do not leave,
Furtively entering beneath my wooden floor to lie down.
Your craftiness and slyness truly can be despised.
Writing this poem, I send you a severe scolding.

To turn • to ramble • in the end • not • to leave
Secretly • to enter • wood floor • below • to lie down
To be crafty • to be tricky • surely • to be able • to hate
To write • poem • to send • to be profound • to scold

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