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Song of Five Friends
오우가
Date: 1900-2000
Historical Period: Republic of Korea (1948- )
Object Name: Calligraphy
Materials: Ink on paper
Dimensions: H. 53 in x W. 14 1/2 in, H. 134.5 cm x W. 36.4 cm image
Credit Line: Gift of Frank S. Bayley, III
Department: Korean Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: 1993.131
On Display: No

Description

Label:

In this work Yi Mi-Kyong wrote the poem “Song of Five Friends” (O’uga) in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. The artist’s fluid calligraphy is in the palace style, originated by women of the palace during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). The poem, composed by Yun Seondo (1587–1671), reads (from right to left and top to bottom):

Song of the Five Friends
Yun Seondo

Just how many friends have I?
    Waters, stone, pine, and bamboo
And the moon rising on East Mountain:
    I am even more grateful for you.
Oh enough! What point could there be
    in claiming more friends than these?

The light in the clouds is lovely, true,
    but they will turn dark again.
The sound of the wind is fine and clear, true,
    but over and again simply ends.
Lovely, and unending:
    is not water the only such thing?

Why do flowers bloom
    only to fade and fall?
And the grasses growing green and tall,
    why so soon turn yellow?
What does not change at all?
    Stone alone, the only one.

The flowers bloom when it is warm,
    the petals fall in the chill.
How is it, Pine, even the blizzard
    does not seem to touch you?
It must be your roots run straight
    down to the Nine Springs below.

Not tree
    nor yet grass.
So straight, did someone plant you?
    Inside, such perfect emptiness.
Just so, and through all four seasons
    constant green: I am so fond of you.

Small, rising high
    to light up all the myriad things.
In the deep night, you alone
    are bright. Is there another?
And though you see, you say nothing.
    Are you my friend, I fondly hope?

Translation from Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions, trans. David R. McCann (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 51–52.


Label:

In this work Yi Mi-Kyong wrote the poem “Song of Five Friends” (O’uga) in Hangeul, the Korean alphabet. The artist’s fluid calligraphy is in the palace style, originated by women of the palace during the Joseon dynasty (1392–1910). The poem, composed by Yun Seondo (1587–1671), reads (from right to left and top to bottom):

Song of the Five Friends
Yun Seondo

Just how many friends have I?
    Waters, stone, pine, and bamboo
And the moon rising on East Mountain:
    I am even more grateful for you.
Oh enough! What point could there be
    in claiming more friends than these?

The light in the clouds is lovely, true,
    but they will turn dark again.
The sound of the wind is fine and clear, true,
    but over and again simply ends.
Lovely, and unending:
    is not water the only such thing?

Why do flowers bloom
    only to fade and fall?
And the grasses growing green and tall,
    why so soon turn yellow?
What does not change at all?
    Stone alone, the only one.

The flowers bloom when it is warm,
    the petals fall in the chill.
How is it, Pine, even the blizzard
    does not seem to touch you?
It must be your roots run straight
    down to the Nine Springs below.

Not tree
    nor yet grass.
So straight, did someone plant you?
    Inside, such perfect emptiness.
Just so, and through all four seasons
    constant green: I am so fond of you.

Small, rising high
    to light up all the myriad things.
In the deep night, you alone
    are bright. Is there another?
And though you see, you say nothing.
    Are you my friend, I fondly hope?

Translation from Early Korean Literature: Selections and Introductions, trans. David R. McCann (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000), 51–52.