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Chosun Late Period (朝鮮後期 조선후기 1637-1897)

Mount Baekbyeong (Source)

Mount Baekbyeong (白屛山, 백병산) in Gangweon Province (江原道, 강원도) (Source)

Jeong Yakyong (丁若鏞, 정약용, 1762-1836) was a late Chosun dynasty philosopher, bureaucrat, poet, and civil engineer. He was of the Naju Jeong Clan (羅州丁氏, 나주정씨); his courtesy names (字, 자) were Miyong (美鏞, 미용) and Songbo (甫, 송보); his pen names (號, 호) were Dasan (茶山, 다산), Sammi (三眉, 삼미), and Yeoyudang (與猶堂, 여유당), among several others; and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Mundo (文度, 문도). He was born to a gentry family in Namyang (南楊, 남양) in Gyeonggi Province (京畿道, 경기도), just east of Seoul. In 1783 at the age of 21, Jeong Yakyong passed his first civil service examination. Thereafter, he continued his studies at the Sungkyunkwan (成均館, 성균관) and also rose through the bureaucratic ranks. Through his studies, he became introduced to Western Learning (西學, 서학), i.e., Catholicism, through fellow scholar Yi Byeok (李蘗, 이벽, 1754-1786). While there is no proof that Jeong Yakyong himself had ever converted, some of his close family members and friends were baptized into the Catholic Church. His associations with early Korean Catholics and with the Southerners’ Faction (南人派, 남인파) would later embroil him. Beginning in 1791, members of the rivaling Old Doctrines Faction (老論派, 노론파) started accusing him of being Catholic, an assertion that he repeatedly denied. For some time, however, Jeong Yakyong was still favored on the royal court. In 1792, for instance, already known for his knowledge of Western civil engineering techniques, he was asked to supervise the construction of Hwaseong (華城, 화성), a fortress in Suwon (水原, 수원). His fortunes changed with the Shinyu Year Persecutions (辛酉敎難, 신유교난) in 1801, when Jeong Yakyong was arrested and banished for his associations with Catholics. He was released in 1818, but remained out of politics and passed away in 1836 near Seoul. 

From an early age, Jeong Yakyong was recognized for his Classical Chinese composition. By the age of 10, he had already amassed a collection of his own poetry. During his banishment, he devoted himself to studying Confucian classics and started writing several notable works, including Remaining Thoughts on Managing the Nation (經世遺表, 경세유표) and Mind of Governing the People (牧民心書, 목민심서). It was also during this time that Jeong Yakyong wrote several Lyric Poetry or Ci (詞, 사).  The poem below was probably written when he was banished to Gangweon Province (江原道, 강원도). In it, Jeong Yakyong expresses his desire to return to his hometown.

水調歌頭 수조가두
思鄕 사향

To the Tune of Prelude to the Water Melodies:
Longing for Home

瀟洒粤溪水 소쇄월계수 平仄仄平仄
澹蕩白屛山 담탕백병산 仄仄仄平平(韻)
我家茅屋寄在 아가모옥기재 仄平平仄仄仄
煙靄杳茫間 연애묘망간 平仄仄平平(韻)
欲與雲鴻高擧 욕여운홍고거 仄仄平平平仄
怪有重巒疊嶂 괴유중만첩장 仄仄平平仄仄
不許爾同還 불허이동환 仄仄仄平平(韻)
一醉落花底 일취락화저 仄仄仄平仄
歸夢繞沙灣 귀몽요사만 平仄仄平平(韻)

Clear and pure are the waters of Weolgye (粤溪, 월계);
Placid and quiet is Mount Baekbyeong (白屛山, 백병산).
In my home, a thatched shack, I temporarily reside.
Amid the wide and expansive clouds and mist,
I would like to ascend on high with the geese of the clouds.
But strangely, there are arrayed peaks and layered cliffs,
Not permitting to return together with you.
Once inebriated, upon the bed of fallen leaves,
Dreams of returning home surround sandy bay.

  • 瀟洒(소쇄) – Alliterating binome (疊聲聯綿辭, 첩성연면사) meaning “to be clear and pure.”

釣魚子 조어자 仄平仄
塵網外 진망외 平仄仄
十分閒 십분한 仄平平(韻)
昔年何事 석년하사 仄平平仄
狂走漂泊抵衰顔 광주표박저쇠안 平仄平仄仄平平(韻)
風裏一團黃帽 풍리일단황모 平仄仄平平仄
雨外一尖靑蒻 우외일열청약 仄仄仄仄平仄
此個勝簪綸 차개승잠륜 仄仄仄平平(韻)
幾日湖亭上 기일호정상 仄仄平平仄
高枕看波瀾 고침간파란 平仄仄平平(韻)

The fishermen,
Outside the dusty world’s snare,
Are much at leisure.
In past years, for what reason,
Did they crazily run about and drift astray only to come to have senile appearances?
Within the winds, one round, yellow cap;
Exterior to the raindrops, one pointed, green reeded hat.
These items surpass hairpins and silk clothing.
For how many days, atop the lake’s pavilion,
Upon a tall pillow, will I be able to gaze the waves and billows?

  • 黃帽(황모) – Literally “yellow hat.” Refers to headgear worn by boatmen.

Notes:

  • The poem follows the tune Prelude to the Water Melodies (Shuidiao Getou). It has two verses of ninety-five characters in total (雙調九十五字). The former verse has nine lines with four plain tone rimes (前段九句四平韻). The latter verse has ten lines with four plain tone rimes (後段十句四平韻). This poem employs near rimes (通韻, 통운). All riming characters, except one, rime with the character 刪(산). The third rime of the second verse 綸(륜) rimes with the character 眞(진). As described in the Imperial Compilation of Lyric Poetry Rubrics (欽定詞譜, 흠정사보):

雙調九十五字, 前段九句四平韻, 後段十句四平韻

OOOO仄 O仄仄平平(韻) O平平仄 OO平仄仄平平(韻) O仄O平O仄 O仄O平O仄 O仄仄平平(韻) OOO平仄 O仄仄平平(韻)

OOO OO仄 仄O平(韻) O平O仄 O仄O仄仄平平(韻) O仄O平O仄 O仄O平O仄 O仄仄平平(韻) O仄O平仄 O仄仄平平(韻)

Source:

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Blog Pic 2-29-2016

Confectioneries and fruits laid out at a traditional Korean wedding ceremony (Source)

Naver’s Encyclopedia (네이버 백과사전) is an incredibly useful resource especially on all things Korean (in Korean), such as Korean literature, history, culture, customs, and so forth. A few days ago, I came across an entry about a rather humorous regional folktale originating from Yangju (楊州, 양주) in Gyeonggi Province (京畿道, 경기도), a city just north of Seoul, titled An Illiterate Bridegroom’s Classical Chinese Poem (無識한 新郞의 漢詩, 무식한 신랑의 한시). The tale is said to have passed on by word of mouth among the residents of this area, and was first recorded sometime during the colonial period. It uses word play requiring an understanding of not only Classical Chinese — as the title suggests — but also native Korean. This might seem complex, but such jokes can be actually found in other Korean stories and poems from the pre-modern era, and even in memes today. Below is my quick translation:

An Illiterate Bridegroom’s Classical Chinese Poem

Long ago, a young man was to be married to the daughter of an erudite man’s household. The bride’s family wanted to see their soon-to-be son-in-law’s literary talents on the day of the wedding. However, the bridegroom’s father knew that his son barely knew how to write. Because of this, he was afraid that his son would be humiliated by the bride’s family members. The father thus went to a well-educated, literate man and asked him to be his son’s attendant as a guest of honor at the wedding, so that his son would not be humiliated.

After the wedding ceremony, surely enough the bride’s family gathered around the bridegroom with a table and brush, and asked him to write a poem. Flustered and not knowing what to write, the bridegroom gazed all around the room. He saw a spider web on the ceiling, and shouted, “Cheon-jang-e geo-mi-jip (천장에 거미집)” (“There’s a spider web on the ceiling”). The attendant immediately wrote:

天長去無執 천장거미집 Cheon-jang-geo-mi-jip

The heavens are so expansive that there is nowhere to go to grab a hold of.

The bridegroom then looked toward the yard, and saw the smoke of husks of grain being burnt (겻불내) rising. He then interjected, “Hwa-ro-e gyeo-bb’ul-lae (화로에 겨뿔내)” (“In the stove, the smell of grain husks burning”). The attendant quickly scribbled:

花老蝶不來 화로접불래 Hwa-ro-jeop-bul-lae

As the flower has grown old, butterflies do not come.

Next, he turned his attention to the table and the food laid thereupon. The bridegroom first saw one bowl of noodles and called out, “Guk-su han sa-bal (국수 한 사발)” (“One bowl of noodles”). The attendant hastenly scribed:

菊秀寒士發 국수한사발 Guk-sa-han-sa-bal

The chrysanthemums are elegant, blossoming like a poor scholar.

Lastly, the bridegroom turned to the sweets and fruits on the table, and exclaimed, “Gang-jeong, bin-sa-gwadae-chu, bok-sung-a! (강정, 빈사과, 대추, 복숭아!)” (“Glutinous rice crackers, molasses-coated sweets, dates, and peaches!”). The attendant briskly penned:

江亭貧士過 강정빈사과 Gang-jeong-bin-sa-gwa
大醉伏松下 대취복송하 Dae-chwi-bok-song-ha

The poor scholar passes by the river’s pavilion;
Greatly inebriated, he lays flat down beneath the pine tree.

The bride’s family praised the bridegroom for his writing, and was pleased to see that their new son-in-law was literate.

This folktale reveals that Korean common folk had accepted or were at least exposed to Classical Chinese to some degree. This is seen not only from the bride’s family putting value in literacy in Chinese characters but also from the whole story itself treating Classical Chinese poetry with great levity. (As further evidence of this, there was even an entire genre of native Korean poetry called Eonmun-pungweol (諺文風月, 언문풍월) that was popular into the early 20th century that mimicked Classical Chinese poetry.) This is contradictory to some Korean nationalists’ baseless assertions, whose opinions are too common online, that Sinitic elements of Korean culture were limited to just the very elite.

Source:

Jeong Yakyong (丁若鏞, 정약용, 1762-1836) was a late Chosun dynasty philosopher, bureaucrat, poet, and civil engineer. He was of the Naju Jeong Clan (羅州丁氏, 나주정씨); his courtesy names (字, 자) were Miyong (美鏞, 미용) and Songbo (甫, 송보); his pen names (號, 호) were Dasan (茶山, 다산), Sammi (三眉, 삼미), and Yeoyudang (與猶堂, 여유당), among several others; and his posthumous name (諡, 시) was Mundo (文度, 문도). At the age of 21, in 1783, Jeong Yakyong passed his first civil service examination. Thereafter, he continued his studies at the Sungkyunkwan (成均館, 성균관) and also rose through the bureaucratic ranks. Through his studies, he became introduced to Western Learning (西學, 서학), i.e., Catholicism, through fellow scholar Yi Byeok (李蘗, 이벽, 1754-1786). While there is no proof that Jeong Yakyong himself had ever converted, some of his close family members and friends were baptized into the Catholic Church. His associations with early Korean Catholics and more importantly with the Southerners’ Faction (南人派, 남인파) would later embroil him. Beginning in 1791, members of the rivaling Old Doctrines Faction (老論派, 노론파) started accusing him of being Catholic, an assertion that he repeatedly denied. For some time, however, Jeong Yakyong was still favored on the royal court. In 1792, for instance, already known for his knowledge of Western civil engineering techniques, he was asked to supervise the construction of Hwaseong (華城, 화성), a fortress in Suwon (水原, 수원). This changed with the start of the Shinyu Year Persecutions (辛難, 신유교난) in 1801, when Jeong Yakyong was arrested and banished for his associations with Catholics. During his banishment, he devoted himself to studying Confucian classics and started writing several notable works, including Remaining Thoughts on Managing the Nation (經世遺表, 경세유표) and Mind of Governing the People (牧民心書, 목민심서). He was released in 1818, but remained out of politics and passed away in 1836 near Seoul. 

From an early age, Jeong Yakyong was recognized for his Classical Chinese poetry. By the age of 10, he had already amassed a collection of his own poetry. Jeong Yakyong’s style was somewhat unconventional in that he explicitly disliked the strict rules of recent style poetry (近體詩, 근체시) and preferred freer archaic style poetry (古體詩, 고체시). In one particular poem from his banishment, he remarked, “I am a man of Chosun / Gleefully writing Chosun poetry” (我是朝鮮人 甘作朝鮮詩 – 아시조선인 감작조선시). This line is surprising, because he brazenly ignores conventional tonal meter. (Also note that Hangul and Korean vernacular poetry written in Hangul had existed for well over three centuries when he wrote this line.) The poem below also does not conform to the strict rules of recent style poetry. In it, he describes farmers threshing barley. In Korea, the agricultural custom of threshing the barley (–打作, 보리타작) was traditionally associated with Grain in Ear Day (芒種, 망종). As a solar term, the day marks when the Sun is between the celestial longitudes of 75 to 90 degrees and falls around June 6-7 on the western Gregorian calendar every year. Barley has a long history in Korea, as the grain was introduced to the peninsula already domesticated from either China or Central Asia sometime during prehistoric times.

打麥行 타맥행

Threshing the Barley

新芻濁酒如湩白 신추탁주여동백
大碗麥飯高一尺 대완맥반고일척
飯罷取耞登場立 반파취가등장립
雙肩漆澤飜日赤 쌍견칠택번일적

The new hay and cloudy wine are milky white;
The large bowl is with barley feed one feet high.
Having finished their meal, they grab flails and go out to stand in the yard.
Twin shoulders, lacquered with sweat, overturn in the redness of the sun.

  • 濁酒(탁주) – Literally “cloudy alcohol.” Refers to an unrefined rice wine known as Makgeolli (막걸리).

呼邪作聲擧趾齊 호아작성거지제
須臾麥穗都狼藉 수유맥수도랑자
雜歌互答聲轉高 잡가호답성전고
但見屋角紛飛麥 단견옥각분비맥

Oh, alas! Making noise, their feet are in lockstep.
For a brief moment, barley ears are stacked all over the place.
Various tunes call and answer in antiphony, with their voices becoming gradually louder.
But only seen are the barley flying scattered about upon the corner of the ceiling.

  • 須臾(수유) – Binome word (連綿辭, 연면사) meaning “briefly.”
  • 狼藉(낭자) – Binome word meaning “to be messy.”

觀其氣色樂莫樂 관기기색락막락
了不以心爲形役 료불이심위형역
樂園樂郊不遠有 락원락교불원유
何苦去作風塵客 하고거작풍진객

Having observed their complexions, they cannot be any more joyous:
In the end, they do not regard their spirits to be servile to their bodies.
The paradisaical garden and paradisaical purlieu do not exist afar.
Oh, how I agonize over having left to become a traveler amid the windblown dust!

  • 樂莫樂(낙막락) – Literally, “joy unlike joy.” Refers to extreme joy.
  • 風塵客(풍진객) – Literally, “windblown dust’s guest.” The term “windblown dust” refers to the mundane world (俗世, 속세). The phrase as a whole refers to someone in bureaucracy.
  • Heptasyllabic archaic poem (七言古詩, 칠언고시) with no riming scheme. The poem has been broken into three parts for the purposes of presentation.
  • Korean translation available here.

Ipchun

Gang Jeongildang (姜靜一堂, 강정일당, 1772-1832) was a late Chosun dynasty poetess and Neo-Confucian scholar. She was of the Jinju Gang Clan (晉州姜氏, 진주강씨); her childhood name (兒名, 아명) was Jideok (至德, 지덕); and her pen name (號, 호) was Jeong’ildang (靜一堂, 정일당). She was born into an gentry, but poor Yangban (兩班, 양반) family that had not seen anyone rise to a bureaucratic position for a number of generations. As a child, Gang Jeongildang followed her mother and learned weaving. At the age of 20, she was married to Yun Gwangyeon (尹光演, 윤광연, 1778-1838), but only moved in three years later because the husband’s family was too poor to support her. After moving in, Gang Jeongildang started learning Confucian classics along with her husband to help him study for the civil service examinations (科擧, 과거). Despite his studying, Yun Gwangyeon failed the civil service examination. At the advice of Gang Jeongildang, he abandoned his aspirations for bureaucracy and opened a Confucian school (書堂, 서당) to teach Chinese classics to children in the area. Gang Jeongildang bore Yun Gwangyeon five sons and four daughters, but all of them unfortunately died before reaching the age of one. Her legacy, however, was carried on by her written works. Even during her lifetime, she became rather known for her poetry, calligraphy, and writings on Confucian tenets. After she passed away at the age of 61, her husband compiled all her works and published them in the The Remnant Drafts of Jeongildang (靜一堂遺稿, 정일당유고).

春夢 춘몽

Spring Dreams

水晶簾外日將闌 수정렴외일장란
垂柳深沈覆碧欄 수류심침복벽란
枝上黃鶯啼不妨 지상황앵제불방
尋君夢已到長安 심군몽이도장안

Outside my crystal blinds, the sun will soon fall;
But the weeping willows in deep sleep cover the blue rails.
Above the branches, nightingales chirp without interruption.
Finding you, my dear, in my dreams, I have already arrived at Jang’an (長安, 장안).

Definitions:

Water • crystal • shades • outside • sun • will • to decline
To hang • willows • deep • asleep • to cover • blue • handrails
Branches • above • yellow • nightingale • to chirp • not • to obstruct
To find • you • dreams • already • to arrive • long • peace

Notes:

  • Heptasyllabic truncated version (七言絶句, 칠언절구). Riming character (韻, 운) is 寒(한).
  • 垂柳(수류) – Literally, “hanging willow trees.” Refers to weeping willows.
  • 長安(장안) – Jang’an, or in Mandarin Chang’an, was the capital of many Chinese dynasties and is now modern day Xi’an (西安, 서안). Chosun era poets referred to Seoul (서울) by this name.
  • Korean translation available here.

South Shrine

Yi Danjeon (李亶佃, 이단전, 1755-1790) was a Chosun dynasty poet. He was of the Yeon’an Yi Clan (延安李氏, 연안이씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Un’gi (耘岐, 운기); his pen names were Piljae (疋齋, 필재), Pilhan (疋漢), and Injae (因齋, 인재). He always had on a bamboo braid hat typically worn by lower classes of Korean society, called a Paeraeng’i (패랭이). This was transliterated as Pyeongryangja (平涼子, 평량자) into Hanja (漢字, 한자), and hence his nickname was Yi Pyeongryang (李平涼, 이평량) for this reason. As is clearly evident from his names, Yi Danjeon was a member of the slave caste (賤民, 천민). He worked in a household with the surname Yu (兪氏, 유씨). He first learned Classical Chinese from members of the non-aristocratic poetry circle known as the Songseokweon Shisa (松石園詩社, 송석원시사). Yi Danjeon eventually became so renowned for his poetry that members of the aristocratic Yangban (兩班, 양반) class invited him regularly to compose poetry with them and young aristocrats seeking bureaucratic offices paid him to write Classical Chinese texts on their behalf. For a slave, he lived a rather eccentric life; however, because of his inability to climb up in Chosun society, Yi Danjeon despaired. He fell into alcoholism spending all his earned money on booze, and died of alcohol poisoning at the age of 39 in 1790.

題關王廟 제관왕묘

Writing About King Gwan’s Shrine

古廟幽深白日寒 고묘유심백일한
儼然遺像漢衣冠 엄연유상한의관
當時未了中原事 당시미료중원사
赤兎千年不解鞍 적토천년불해안

The old shrine is secluded and deep; the daytime is bleak.
Clearly, the remaining portrait is in Han dynasty (漢,한) clothes and headwear.
At that very time, the affairs of the middle plains were not yet complete.
The Red Hare, for a thousand years, has not had its saddle undone.

Definitions:

Old • shrine • to be secluded • to be deep • white • day • to be bleak
Clearly • grammatical marker • remnant • image • Han dynasty • clothes • headwear
That • time • not yet • to complete • middle • plains • affairs
Red • hare •  thousand • years • not • to undo • saddle

Notes:

  • 關王廟(관왕묘) – King Gwan refers to Guan Yu (關羽, 관우, Gwan U, 160-219), a famous Chinese general from the Three Kingdoms period. In Seoul, there are two shrines commemorating Guan Yu. One is South King Gwan’s Shrine (南關王廟, 남관왕묘), located outside of Namdaemun (南大門, 남대문) in Huamdong (厚岩洞, 후암동). The other is East King Gwan’s Shrine (東關王廟, 동관왕묘), located outside of Dongdaemun (東大門, 동대문). In addition, there are two other shrines outside of Seoul in Andong (安東, 안동) and Sangju (尙州, 상주) in North Gyeongsang Province (慶尙北道, 경상북도). In his poem, Yi Danjeon is referring to the the South King Gwan’s Shrine, which had a statue of General Guan Yu on the Red Hare, a mythical horse. King Seonjo (宣祖, 선조, 1552-1608, r. 1567-1608) ordered the construction of the South King Gwan’s Shrine in 1598 to offer rites to General Guan Yu, at the request of Ming Chinese generals, who fought against the Japanese during Hideyoshi’s Invasion of Korea (壬辰倭亂, 임진왜란, Imjin Waeran, 1592-1598). The shrine was destroyed by a fire in 1899 and was rebuilt in 1901. It was destroyed again during the Korean War (1950-1953) and rebuilt in 1957.
  • 白日(백일) – Literally “white sun” or “white day.” Refers to the middle of the day (대낮).
  • 中原(중원) – Literally “middle plains.” Refers to continental China.
  • 赤兎(적토) – Refers to the Red Hare, a legendary horse owned by Chinese warlord Lü Bu (呂布, 여포, Yeo Po, ?-198). Some of the Red Hare’s abilities are recorded in the Book of the Later Han (後漢書, 후한서):

布常御良馬, 號曰赤兎, 能馳城飛塹
포상어량마, 호왈적토, 능치성비참

Lü Bu always liked riding [this] horse. [Its] name was the “Red Hare.” [It] could charge castle [walls] and fly over puddles.

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Pak Yunmuk Calligraphy

Pak Yunmuk (朴允默, 박윤묵, 1771-1849) was a Chosun dynasty poet and a petty bureaucratic official. He was of the Milyang Pak Clan (密陽朴氏, 밀양박씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Sajip (士執, 사집); and his pen name (號, 호) was Jonjae (存齋, 존재). He was originally from a petty official (署吏, 서리) family. At the recommendation of Prime Minister (領議政, 영의정) Kim Josun (金祖淳, 김조순, 1765-1832) became a low-ranking official in the Council of Ministers (內閣, 내각). Pak Yunmuk learned Classical Chinese from Jeong Ijo (丁彛祚, 정이조, ?-?), a member of the non-aristocratic poets’ circle known as the Songseokweon Shisa (松石園詩社, 송석원시사). After the Songseokweon Shisa was dissolved in 1818, Pak Yunmuk became one of the founders of the successor non-aristocratic poets’ circle called the Seoweon Shisa (西園詩社, 서원시사). The circle met on the Mount Inwang (仁王山, 인왕산), the same mountain as the former Songseokweon Shisa.

糴政 적정

The Rice Office

糴政秋多劇 적정추다극
文書幾等身 문서기등신
吏皆工壅蔽 리개공옹폐
民亦巧因循 민역교인순
手罷煩毫墨 수패번호묵
眸揩漲米塵 모개창미진
公心宜自勵 공심의자려
頭上有神明 두상유신명

The rice office this autumn is very busy.
How many writings and books equal the number of human bodies?
All the petty bureaucrats skillfully block and hide;
Commoners too craftily continue and follow.
Their hands have let go the cumbersome brush and ink;
Their eyes have been cleared of the overflowing rice seeds and dust.
With impartial hearts, they rightfully by themselves toil.
Above their heads exist deities.

Grains • government • autumn • many • to be busy
Writings • books • how many • to be equal • body
Petty official • all • to work • to block • to hide
People • also • to be crafty • to continue • to follow
Hand • to stop • to be cumbersome • hair • ink
Eye • to rub • to overflow • rice • dust
Impartial • hearts • rightfully • by oneself • to toil
Heads • above • to exist • deities • to be bright

Notes:

  • 糴政(적정) – Refers to a government office that handed out grain every autumn. Also known as the Hwanjeong (還政, 환정).
  • 因循(인순) – Refers to not letting go of bad old habits (舊習, 구습).

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Jang Hon

Jang Hon (張混, 장혼, 1759-1828) was a Chosun dynasty poet. He was of the Gyeolseong Jang Clan (結城張氏, 결성장씨); his courtesy name (字, 자) was Weonil (元一, 원일); and his pen names  (號, 호) were Iieom (而已广, 이이엄) and Gonggongja (空空子, 공공자). He was born into a skilled Chung’in class (中人, 중인) family. He was recommended by Oh Jaesun (吳載純, 오재순, 1727-1792), a literati bureaucrat, to the Gyoseogwan (校書館, 교서관), an office that was responsible for printing of Chinese Classics and history books. During his time at the Gyoseogwan, Jang Hon focused his attention on children’s education, and published a number of Classical Chinese textbooks for children. His edition of the Gyemongpyeon (啓蒙篇 , 계몽편) was highly influential in early modern children’s education and was in print even during Japanese colonial period. He also excelled in Classical Chinese poetry, in particular ancient style poetry (古體詩, 고체시). He was also one of the leading poets at the non-aristocratic poetry circle known as the Songseokweon Shisa (松石園詩社, 송석원시사).

津寬寺呼韻 진관사호운

At Jin’gwan Temple, Calling a Rime

初地入雲松 초지입운송
數里淸澗道 수리청간도

The first step to nirvana is to enter clouds and pine trees,
Numerous li (里,리) is on the path by the clear mountains’ stream.

First • land • to enter • clouds • pine trees
Numerous • li • to be clear • mountain gorge • paths

    • 津寬寺(진관사) – Jin’gwan Temple is a Buddhist temple located in Mount Bukhan (北漢山, 북한산), a mountain on the northern border of Seoul.
    • 初地(초지) – Literally “first land.” Refers to the first step in nirvana.

金殿麗王作 금전려왕작
往跡浮雲掃 주적부운소

The Golden Temple, the Goryeo Kings constructed;
The remaining traces, the floating clouds have swept.

Golden • temple • Goryeo • King • to create
Remnant • traces • to be floating • clouds • to sweep

洞天極幽夐 동천극유형
周覽卽事好 주람즉사호

The cave in heaven is extremely far and distant.
Gazing around is certainly good affair.

Cave • heaven • extremely • to be far • to be distant
Around • to gaze • to be • affairs • to be good

    • 洞天(동천) – Literally “a cave in heaven.” Refers to a place where a Taoist hermit resides.

雨深古寺暝 우심고사명
猿鳥入懷抱 원명입회포

The rain is severe and the old temple becomes dark.
Monkeys and birds enter my held thoughts.

Rain • to be severe • old • temple • to be dark
Monkeys • birds • to enter • thoughts • to be held

寄語空門友 기어공문우
香山有九老 향산유구로

I send these words to my school of empty thought friend.
In the fragrant mountains, there reside nine old men.

To send • words • empty • door • friend
Fragrant • mountain • to exist • nine • to be old

    • 空門(공문) – “School of empty thought.” Refers to Buddhism.

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