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Sijo Masters in Translation

Korean Sijo by Im Che

(1549 - 1587)

Im Che was a talented Korean writer in both prose and verse. He frequently pursued his great interest in women, but his nonconformist life style kept him from advancing significantly in governmental service. On his way north to Pyongyang, where he had been given an administrative post by King Sonjo, he stopped in Kaesung to pay tribute at the grave of the noted kisaeng Hwang Chin'i. On that spot, he is said to have composed this sijo extemporaneously. He died at the prime age of 39. His pen name was Paekho (White Lake).

Do you still sleep in this valley,
at rest under thriving grass?
Where have those rosy cheeks gone,
do your bleached bones remember?
I brought good wine for us to share—
Here, I'll pour it on the grass.

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All Rights Copyright 1996 by Larry Gross. Please do not reprint without written permission.

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