A Young Man’s Song

by Nansŏrhŏn

A young man should be faithful,
keep company with chivalrous men –
a jade brooch on his waist,
his midnight-blue coat, emblazoned with kirin.

In the morning, an audience with the King,
then a ride to the village, Long Pleasure.
He buys and drinks the most succulent wine,
sitting among pretty flowers at sunset.

The gold whip overnights at a brothel –
his entertainment has no end.
No one pities the scholar, humbly sitting behind closed doors,
writing books on the origins of the cosmos.


Translated by Ian Haight and T’ae-yong Hŏ.