Book Review – 우리 한시 삼백수 7언절구 편 – 정민

우리한시 삼백수 7언절구

우리 한시 삼백수 7언절구 편 – 정민 평역
Three Hundred of Our Classical Chinese Poems: Heptasyllabic Truncated Verse Volume
Annotated and Translated by Jeong Min

Bibliographic Summary

  • Title: 우리 한시 삼백수 7언절구 편 (Three Hundred of Our Classical Chinese Poems: Heptasyllabic Truncated Verse Volume)
  • Author: 정민 (Jeong Min), professor at Hanyang University (漢陽大學校, 한양대학교)
  • Publication: First printing 2013, second printing 2014
  • Price: 19,800 Won
  • Language: Korean with poems in original Classical Chinese text
  • Pages: 657 pages

Introduction

Summer is around. So, I thought I would recommend a Korean book on Classical Chinese poetry (漢詩, 한시) as a summer reading suggestion for those that know Korean at an intermediate level. I tried to look for an anthology that seemed to be popular and not too simple or overly difficult. I found Three Hundred of Our Classical Chinese Poems by Professor Jeong Min, which had several reviews including those from major newspapers. The “three hundred” in the title is an explicit reference to the Classic of Poetry (詩經, 시경), which also has roughly three hundred poems. Truncated verse (絶句, 절구) refers to a form of Classical Chinese poem that follows strict tonal meter.

Content

The author follows the norm for Korean translations of Classical Chinese texts. As seen in the scan below, for each poem, there is a Korean translation, Classical Chinese original, Korean pronunciations, annotation of difficult characters, and additional commentary by the author. The poems are arranged in chronological order from the late Shilla period (新羅, 신라, 57BC-935AD) to the early 20th century. Many of the poets covered are well-known figures from Korean history, such as Choe Chiwon (崔致遠, 최치원, 857-?), Yi Gyubo (李奎報, 이규보, 1168-1241), Jeong Mongju (鄭夢周, 정몽주, 1337-1392), Jeong Dojeon (鄭道傳, 정도전, 1342-1398), Heo Gyun (許筠, 허균, 1569-1618), Kim Satgat (金笠, 김삿갓, 1807-1863), and Han Yongun (韓龍雲, 한용운, 1879-1944).

Scan 05-10-2015

Review

This book is ideal for the casual or novice reader of Classical Chinese poetry that knows Korean. Professor Jeong Min manages to balance the level and depth of the annotated translations between the general Korean audience that might not be focused on Classical Chinese to those that are interested in pursuing the language further. It includes a fairly easy to read Korean translation, original text plus the pronunciations, and annotations of difficult characters or words. Compared to some other books I have, the annotations are light and not too excessive. They explain enough of the language in the poem for readers that are interested in further digging into the original text. The author’s own commentary also gives some background behind either the poem or the poet.

I hope subscribers that know Korean at some level consider Professor Jeong Min’s Three Hundred of Our Classical Chinese Poems in their summer reading list. (He also recently published a pentasyllabic truncated verse volume.) Those residing state side can have Korean books shipped via Aladin (알라딘). Korea’s Classical Chinese literature is woefully underappreciated even by many Koreans. I further hope books like his revive interest in this often dismissed part of Korean cultural heritage.

3 comments
    • 歸源 said:

      Thank you. Did not know Bandi Books delivered to the US.

  1. I actually have this book; it was lent to me by a close (Korean) friend who also enjoys classical Chinese poetry. A few friends and I tried our hand at translating one of the poems in Vietnamese. We translated it into the same truncated verse format, only just in Vietnamese instead of Chinese (still following tonal and rhyme patterns):

    秋陰漠漠四山空、
    落葉無聲滿地紅。
    立馬溪橋問歸路、
    不知身在畫圖中。

    Sino-Vietnamese pronunciation:

    Thu âm mạc mạc tứ san không,
    Lạc diệp vô thanh mãn địa hồng.
    Lập mã khê kiều vấn quy lộ,
    Bất tri thân tại họa đồ trung.

    Translation 1 by 周海棠

    Bốn bề núi vắng mịt mờ thâu;
    Lá rụng êm êm đất đỏ mầu.
    Dừng ngựa cầu khe tìm hỏi lối:
    Trong tranh đang đứng có hay đâu!

    Translation 2 by 陳光德

    Quạnh quẽ ngàn non nhạt bóng thu
    Lá rơi thắm đất tiếng êm ru
    Cầu khe thắng ngựa dò đường hỏi
    Đâu biết mình trong bức hoạ đồ.

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