- The first line is in reference to a poem found in the Classic of Poetry (詩經, 시경) in the Odes of Bei (邶風, 패풍; Pae’pung) titled “A Boat of Pine Wood” (柏舟, 백주, Baekju). The first three lines of that poem are translated below:
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Again from Kuiwon (歸源)
Hwang Jin’i (黃眞伊, 황진이, c.1506-c.1560) was most famous of Gisaeng (妓生,기생) of the Chosun dynasty, and many novels, dramas, and movie have been inspired by her. Her Gisaeng name was Myeongweol (明月, 명월, “bright moon”) and her pseudonym (別名, 별명) was Jinnang (眞娘, 진낭, “true lady”). She was well renowned for her poetry, drawings, dance, as well as in-depth knowledge of Neo-Confucianism and Chinese classics. Unfortunately, many of her works were lost during Hideyoshi’s Japanese invasions of Korea (壬辰倭亂, 임진왜란, 1592-1598; Imjinwaeran). One of her poems that survived through this tumultuous era is translated below.
A Small Boat of Pine Wood
Floating over there in midstream is a small boat of pine wood.
How many years has it been much at leisure on the head of the blue waves?
If those after ask who went across first,
Tell them, “The lords of ten-thousand households, all full of knowledge of the literary and martial arts.”
A Boat of Pine Wood
汎彼柏舟 亦汎其流 범피백주 역범기류
耿耿不寐 如有隱憂 경경불매 여유은우
微我無酒 以敖以遊 미아무주 이오이유
Floating over there is a boat of pine wood;
Indeed, it floats in that stream.
Anxious and worried am I unable to sleep;
As if I have a hidden pain.
It is not because I have no wine;
That I should frolic and play.
小柏舟 A Little Boat of Pine
汎彼中流小柏舟 In midstream, a little boat of pine, a float.
幾年閑盛碧波頭 How long has it been to be in leisure on its blue wave
後人若問誰先渡 Later generations if asked, who crossed first?
文武兼全萬戶侯 It was the one skilled in both civil and military affairs - The Lord of Ten Thousand households.
汎彼柏舟 A floating small boat of pine
亦汎其流 On its current, a drift.
耿耿不寐 Anxious in sleepless slumber
如有隱憂 As if mired in hidden worries,
微我無酒 Little that I have to drink,
以敖以遊 So let me frolic and wander.
Yeah, that's it. They are pretty much alike, that is to say, culture is dynamic rather than static, because it can creep.
I am just amazed by the poetry written by those Chinese influenced cultures.
There is so much more behind "one small boat of wood 一页木舟" that we never explore. an unknown quality? a poetic feeling? or an implicit sentiment attached to it? who knows?