Home | Kisaeng | An Minyong | Anonymous | Chin-ok | Choe Chung | Chong Ch'ol | Ch'on'gum | Hanu | Hwang Chin'i | Im Che | Kil Chae | Kim Ch'on-taek | Kim Kwang'uk | Kyerang | Kim Tongnyon | Pak Hyogwan | Sin Hum | So Kyongdok | Song Sammun | Yi Hwang | Yun Sondo | Yun Tuso

Sijo Masters in Translation

Korean Sijo by Hanu

(16th century)

Hanu, a pen name meaning Cold Rain, was one of the most talented Korean kisaeng (entertainers similar to geisha) during the reign of King Sonjo (r. 1567-1608). We know nothing else about her, not even her real name, except that she lived in Kaesong, the capital.

According to legend, at a party the poet Im Che sang a sijo honoring Hanu's beauty. In his verse he mentioned that he had traveled thru a cold rain to get to the celebration, and that he would likely freeze in bed as a result. She answered him immediately with the following verse.

Freeze in bed! How can you say that?
Why suffer in slumber that way?
How about a kingfisher quilt
and a mandarin pillow?
Having faced cold rain today,
Why not melt in her bed tonight?

"Cold rain" is a pun on
Hanu, the kisaeng's name. Her quilt was evidently decorated with kingfishers—crested, long-beaked, brilliantly-colored birds— and her pillows were embroidered with mandarin ducks (won-ang sae).

Visit the new Sijo Master of the Month.

Read more Masters in Translation

Go here to learn more about Sijo.

See more poetry by Larry Gross.

Go to theWORDshop Homepage.

All Rights Copyright 2005 by Larry Gross. Please do not reprint without written permission.

Quick Nav: