Baek Daebung (白大鵬, 백대붕, ?-1592) was a poet and of the slave caste (賤民, 천민). He was of the Imcheon Baek Clan (林川白氏, 임천백씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Manri (萬里, 만리). He was a slave working for one of the petty bureaucratic offices. He was a member of the non-aristocratic poetry circle in Seoul at that time called the Pungweolhyangdo (風月香徒, 풍월향도). He was also known for his poetry among Chosun’s elite literati bureaucrats. In 1590, Baek Daebung accompanied Heo Seong (許筬, 허성, 1548-1612) on a diplomatic trip to Japan. During the Japanese invasion of Korea in 1592 (壬辰倭亂, 임진왜란), he accompanied Yi Il (李鎰, 이일, 1538-1601), a military official, and fought in the Battle of Sangju (尙州戰鬪, 상주전투), where he perished. Despite being renowned in poetry during his time, sadly only two of his poems survive.
On the Double Ninth Festival, Reciting While Inebriated
Inebriated, I pin a rue tree’s flower and alone by myself am joyed.
Filling the mountain is the bright moon; upon the pillow is an empty bottle.
To those next to me, do not ask, “What does this person do?”
I am a white-haired — among the winds and the dust — slave of the Jeonhamsa (典艦司, 전함사).
To be inebriated • to pin • rue tree • rue tree • alone • by oneself • to enjoy
To fill • mountains • bright • moon • pillow • empty • bottle
Adjacent • people • not • to ask • what • to do • grammar particle
White • head • winds • dust • to be in charge of • ships • slave
- Jeonhamsa (典艦司, 전함사) – A bureaucratic office in charge of vessel management, shipbuilding, and transportation.
- 風塵(풍진) – Literally “winds and dusts.” Refers to the mundane world.
- 백대붕 – 자탄 (Korean translation and annotation)