Baek Daebung – Reciting While Inebriated

Baek Daebung Double Ninth Poem

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.

九日醉吟 구일취음

On the Double Ninth Festival, Reciting While Inebriated

醉揷茱萸獨自娛 취삽수유독자오
滿山明月枕空壺 만산명월침공호
旁人莫問何爲者 방인막문하위자
白首風塵典艦奴 백수풍진전함노

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.


  1. Incidentally, Heo Seong was the half brother of Heo Nanseolheon (許蘭雪軒 1563-89) and Heo Gyun (許筠 1569-1618 – author of Hong Gildong-jeon 洪吉童傳). On return from the Japan trip, Heo Seong is said to have supported the chief ambassador’s contention that Hideyoshi was planning to invade (tragically they were pooh poohed by the Easterners who held political power and no preparations were made) ~

  2. jeff said:

    Just English grammar here… Reciting While Inebriated

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