Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Let's Drink a Cup of Wine

A poem by Chong Ch'ol (1536-1593), tr. Richard Rutt, The Bamboo Grove: An Introduction to Sijo (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971), no. 239, with translator's note:
Let's drink a cup of wine! And then drink another!
                          Let's pluck flowers and lay them out
                          to count off our endless cups!

Once your body is dead
                          it will be bound in a straw mat
                          and carried away on a jiggy,
                          or sway in a brilliant bier followed
                          by thousands of mourners,
                          but still it will go to the reeds and the rushes,
                          the oaks and the willows,
                          where the sun shines yellow
                          and the moon shines white,
                          where fine rain falls
                          and snowflakes whirl in the wind:
                          and then who will say, "Let's drink a cup!"?

Some monkey will come and chatter on your grave,
                          and what use will regrets be then?

A jiggy (Korean chige) is a wooden carrying-frame, held on the shoulders by straps of straw rope. It places the weight of the load in the center of a man's back, and is the ubiquitous equipment of farmers and laborers.

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