Korean Fan Poem

I don’t get to talk about Korean culture and literature every often, but a few years back I had a pretty hard-core KPop phase (SNSD, 2NE1, Brown Eyed Girls, etc). Coincidentally, one of my friends is Korean, one time she sent me this cool fan one time during her last trip home:

If you look carefully, the fan has a poem written on it that mixes Korean hangeul script and Chinese characters:

I got curious and did some investigating on what this poem was, translations, etc., and it turns out that this is a famous poem in Korea by Yi Jo-Nyeon (이조년, 李兆年, 1269∼1343) and utilizes a kind of popular poetic form called a sijo, a popular form of Korean poetry comprising of three lines of verse. Sadly, there is no English article about him on Wikipedia, but there is one in Korean.

Also, I found a translation here.

So, without further ado, here’s the poem on the fan, with the original text (with hangeul in parantheses, just like the fan), pronunciation and translation:

Original Text
(hangeul pronunciation in parentheses)
梨花(이화)에 月白(월백)하고 銀漢(은한)이 三更(삼경​​)인 제I-hwa e weol-baek hago eun-han i sam-gyeong injePear flowers illume moon-white, a galaxy in midnight
一枝春心(일지춘심)을 子規(자규)야 알랴 마난Ilji chunshim eul jagyu ya alrya mananThe sentiments of spring on that branch, does the cuckoo know?
多情(다정)도 病(병)인양 하여 잠 못 들어 하노라Dajeong do byeong inyang hayeo jam mot deuleo hanoraI sleep fitfully for this sickness, this tenderness of heart.
Translation by Jungmin Bae at https://cagibilit.com/in-translation-pear-flowers-illume-moon-white/

Pretty nice poem actually, and now you know some famous Korean poetry!

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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