By Ho Nansorhon, Korea (1563-1589).
The candlelight shines low on the dark window,
Fireflies flit across the housetops.
As the night grows colder,
I hear autumn leaves rustle to the ground.
There’s been no news for some time from your place of exile.
Because of you,
My mind is never free of worry.
Thinking of a distant temple,
I see a deserted hillside
Filled with the radiance of the moon.
By Kim Sujang, eighteenth century Korea.
Moonlight shines on the lotus pond;
Lotus fragrance pervades my clothes.
There’s wine in the golden jug
And a beauty playing the lute.
Captivated by the mood
I sing a sad refrain.
Pine and bamboo sway to my song;
Cranes dance in the garden.
Thus, happy with relatives,
Glad with friends, I’ll live
the span allotted me by heaven.
Eleventh Century Korea.
I carouse all night
In moonlit fields
And return home to find,
In my bed, four legs.
Two of these legs,
I have known as they slid
Past my own two legs.
Two of these legs,
I have owned, but now
They are taken.
Anonymous from 12th century Korea.
Watching alone by the ancient city wall,
Thinking of one who was too beautiful,
What did I see? What did I hear?
Moonlight, quivering over empty courtyards,
A voice calling out of the midnight shadows.
One name, her name, echoes across the silence.
Light feet, her feet, in shoes of peacock feathers,
Dance through the empty halls. Will they never rest?
Thinking of joys that ended and sorrows which never end
I find my white robe spangled with tears for her.
16th century Korean anonymous
Six crock bowls the bride smashed
In a fit of temper on her wedding night.
Are you going to replace them? mother-in-law asked.
The bride replied: Your son has smashed beyond repair
The vessel I brought from home.
Weighted one against the other,
The balance would seem quite fair.
Song Sun, 15th-16th Century Korea.
Ten years it took
To build my little cottage.
Now the cool wind inhabits half of it
And the rest is filled with moonlight.
There is no place left for the mountain and the stream
So I guess they will have to stay outside.