※ A power outage this morning appears to have destryoed a/some sector(s) on the Sanchon Hunjang's hard drive and caused all of the 울릉도 photos to disappear. This means I'll have to postpone the 울릉도 post until I see if I can recover those files. In the meantime...
My loyal reader asked what this Sanchon Hunjang is all about and what's up with all the Chinese in the header.
The Chinese words are easy enough:
Those are the words. But for the background, we'll have to go waaaaaay back.
Scoot over here close to the fire and I'll spin you a yarn.
The Chinese word we use for "poetry" 詩 has been a rhymed genre since the beginning of Chinese literature, the Book of Poetry 시경 詩經. As time went by, this genre split into several branches, but they all had the same number of words per line, and they were rhymed. That is the definition of a 詩 poem (although the same number of words per line thing doesn't strictly hold true to the dawn-of-history stuff).
The Chinese gradually built up some very specific ideas about what makes a technically great poem (that is, great in technique, not necessarily in content). They invented rules governing the pattern of tones so there would be variation and please the ear. They also put together a list of "official rhymes." Now China's a big place with lots of local variation in pronunciation. Not only that, but sounds change over time. This means that the words on the official list of rhymes may or may not rhyme to the poet in his region and timeframe (think of Dolly Parton rhyming "thing" and "sang"). But then they gave a good incentive for everyone to memorize those rhyme tables and practice writing technically correct poems at every occasion: they made the writing of such poems the touchstone to select men of quality for appointment to chushy and well-paid government jobs. Riches and prestige. Everyone wanted one of those government jobs.
Since the ability to pull together a poem was the mark of the elite, everyone practiced long and hard. And they made games involving the composition of poetry. For example, they would pick a topic and 4 or 5 rhyming words and everyone had to use those words at the end of the rhyming lines of his poem about the selected topic. Or you could use the same rhyming words from a poem that someone had sent to you and reply to them with a different poem, same rhyming words at the ends of the lines. And so on...and so on...and so on... all in the name of fun and practice.
And of course Korea was like a younger brother who had to do everything big brother does. Only with more intensity.
Okay, that's the deep background.
During the latter part of the ChosOn Dynasty
(1392-1910 A.D.) there was a man of aristocrat stock whose family had lost their status. The reason for their fall from grace was that the man's grandfather had been local magistrate in SOnch'On when they had an uprising in the area and the grandfather surrendered to the traitors. The grandson was educated but, owing to this disgrace, he could not get one of those government jobs that everybody was salivating for. He gave up on the whole charade and just started drifting from place to place writing satirical verses and wearing a lampshade hat 삿갓
. There are some pretty amusing verses and stories attributed to him. Because of his ever-present lampshade, he picked up the nickname 김립 金笠, where 립 means 삿갓. Nowadays everyone knows him as 김삿갓 (1807~1863). In the 19
90s, there was even a honey-sweetened 소주 named after him, but it has since gone the way of its namesake.
Anyhow, one day 김삿갓 was passing through this mountain village late in the evening. Since he needed a place to sleep, and was no stranger to begging, he asked the 훈장 at the village school to put him up for the night. The village schoolmaster wasn't about to put up any old lout--only one that could compose proper Chinese poetry on the spot. So the terms for a night's stay at the academy were that 김삿갓 would have to compose a 4 line poem with the rhyming characters to be supplied by the 훈장 after each line was complete.
Unfortunately the CNN videotape of the exchange has been lost, but I imagine it went something like this:훈 장 thinks to self: If I start off with a somewhat obscure rhyme character that's dificult to rhyme to boot, maybe this guy will just disappear really quickly.
훈장: 찾을 멱
김립: (Composing poem
) Of all the rhyme characters, why does it hafta be 멱? (許多韻字何呼覓)훈장 thinks to self: Oh-hoh. A smarty pants. Well let's see how he likes this.
훈장: 찾을 멱
김립: I already did that one.
훈장: No, 멱 is the first and the second
김립: Okay, here goes...(Composing
) That last 멱 was hard enough, it's going to be really tough to work in this 멱. (彼覓有難況此覓)훈장 thinks to self: Heh heh heh. I've got him now. He's composed himself into a corner.
훈장: 찾을 멱
김립: This night's rest hangs on 멱 (一夜肅寢懸於覓)훈 장 thinks to self: huh? where's he going to go with this one? Eh...who cares there's only one line left and there's no way he's going to be able to pull off a poem that means anything from here.
훈장: 찾을 멱
김립: (fighting to repress grin
) Maybe the only thing this mountain village schoolmaster knows is 멱 (山村訓長但知覓)
훈장: Doh! I hope a bedbug bites your ugly butt.
So, there you have it. "The only thing the schoolmaster of [this] mountain village knows is myOk."
산촌훈장이나 노태우(盧泰愚)나 이름에서 볼 수 있듯이 바보거든. 아는 게 다행이라고 생각하고 있지? ^^