[KS] Korean Tea Ceremony and other wonders

Young-Key Kim-Renaud kimrenau at gwu.edu
Tue Aug 14 12:39:59 EDT 2012

P.s., by the way, in Father Rutt's translation, indeed "I" is absent as the
first occupant of the "hut," although you were not concerned about the
rendering of the second line of the sijo.

On Tue, Aug 14, 2012 at 12:34 PM, Young-Key Kim-Renaud <kimrenau at gwu.edu>wrote:

> Hi Frank,
> I was just going to bow out of the discussion of this thread, but in the
> spirit of cooperation, after reading your posting just now, I will
> continue, hopefully not for long.
> Thanks for your critique of my translation comparing it to Father Rutt's.
> You certainly are very diligent. I translated this sijo upon Architect
> Cho's request, but more important, because the poem was so lovely. As with
> every piece of literature I have translated, I know there are many other,
> better possibilities. Richard Rutt's is certainly one, and I appreciate
> your mentioning it.
> Below, I will just comment where pertinent, in blue, in the copied text
> of your email:
> On Mon, Aug 13, 2012 at 12:41 AM, Frank Hoffmann <hoffmann at koreaweb.ws>wrote:
>>   十年을 經營하야 草廬三間지어내니
>> Translated as:
>>   It took ten years to build / my little thatched hut.
>> What about the kyŏngyŏng-haya part?
>> That just seems so essential. Isn't he saying that it took 10 years of
>> his life to plan that hut (not to actually build a small house), and is
>> that not just a poetic way to say he needed an awful long time to get
>> his life straight, to understand what all is about, what's important
>> and what not? Reminds me a lot of Tang period poetry, clearly informed
>> by Buddhist thought.
> Yes, 10 years is a long time to build a hut. I thought "planning it" would
> certainly be implied in the sentence, but more important, I wanted to let
> the readers fill what that "work" could have been. It is clear this "hut"
> represents an "ideal" form of an abode to this scholar in retirement/exile,
> who relished the environment (call it a house garden or a garden house?) in
> which he lived "with" nature. Indeed, it does not mean it took literally
> ten years of "work" to build it! He probably wrote it in Tamyang, where our
> very dear Werner lives now! [How many years did it take to build your own
> "hut" there, Werner?]
>> I like how you translate the third and last line
>> ending in -porira, kind of really reflects the a fresh and imposing,
>> early Korean Buddhist spirit (that somehow disappeared during Chosŏn
>> times) while being very contemporary in feeling.
> Thanks, Frank. That is more than I intended or hoped for.
>> The late Richard Rutt, whom I very much admire for his translations,
>> rendered the poem as follows:
>>   At the end of ten years’ work
>>         I have a hut with a straw roof.
>>   The clear wind lives in one half,
>>         and the bright moon in the other.
>>   There’s no space to invite the hills--
>>         they will have to stay outside.
>> I like the translation of the first line, for it seems to reflect the
>> meaning of kyŏngyŏng more pointedly, and "hut with a straw roof" seems
>> not to be so overly cute than "little thatched hut" also. But your
>> ending, on the other hand, that seems far more Korean in spirit (almost
>> pre-Chosŏn Buddhist) than the all too passive ending by Rutt.
>> I will just respect your opinion on the two translations of the poem as a
> reader's. I am just honored and flattered to be compared to my respected
> friend and scholar (Bless his soul).
> Just one explanation on the "overly cute 'little thatched hut'." This was
> my effort to express how small a space a 3-kan house is. I could have used
> the expression "small" instead, if that would have made you feel it less
> cute, but I chose one over the other for atmosphere. Also, I subconsciously
> might have worried that some Western readers might think of those gorgeous
> thatched-roofed houses in Belgium, especially since it took 10 years to
> build.
>> Beautiful, absolutely beautiful this spirit! No family, no social life,
>> no responsibilities, just an old man enjoying himself and his endless
>> wisdom. Today you have to be a Facebook executive, sell your stock
>> portfolio early enough, and get a house in the Berkeley Hills to enjoy
>> this kind of life. Also gives you some hints as to why there were
>> peasant unrests in Korea almost every single year all through the
>> Chosŏn period--they just did not achieve the same yangban wisdom, did
>> not invest into the right portfolio to relax the same way Mr. Song Sun
>> was privileged to.
>> No comment here.
>> Let's return to garden culture and garden architecture: A "hut" is
>> little by definition. The phrase "little thatched hut" (in the
>> translation) is an often used phrase in English, and familiarity with
>> phrases is good for translations, maybe. But, and since this comes up
>> within the context of garden culture (and architecture), I think the
>> term ch'oryŏ samgan, other than ch'oga samgan, is a rather unusual one,
>> but also referring to a native Korean measurement--that is kan, ca.
>> 1.82 meters times 1.82 meters. "3 kan" therefore comes to about 30
>> square meters--that's what, the size of a student's studio? The
>> standard Korean house was in traditional times more around five kan
>> large. Of course, there were all kinds of variations, regional ones and
>> by status. A poor peasant family house could have well been only three
>> kan large. In any case, this is "just" poetry: we may simply take this
>> to mean a reference to a smaller house "in the hills" (or mountains),
>> which COULD be a kind of pavilion but also just a standard
>> Korean-style, smaller house--not the normal yangban residence. Now,
>> that is for sure a classical poetic setting in both China and Korea.
>> But please note how very 'loose' and non-pointed the references to
>> nature are, pretty much in line with what Werner described. There are
>> no specific references to specific locations (e.g. specific mountains
>> and rivers, as so often in landscape painting, for example, and other
>> poems, usually referring to places in China, at least until the
>> mid-Chosŏn period). This is therefore *not* an example for poetry in
>> the context of "garden culture" (and garden architecture) but more so
>> of the sort of gardens (and possibly related buildings) that Werner
>> described, and that again is something I would see as proof for the
>> absence of garden culture. … A single short poem, of course, is by no
>> means sufficient to proof anything.
> I think I responded to most of your comments here above, where similar
> points were presented.
>> Maybe Dr. Kim-Renaud could kindly summarize how the mentioned
>> conference paper by In-Souk Cho interprets this particular poem in
>> relation to Korean architecture? I'd again fear the worst here. That
>> MIGHT then be a great example of exactly the kind of manipulative
>> writing I was referring to (or it might not).
>> Unfortunately we have not printed the proceedings of this particular
> colloquium, ironically because the presenter on Korean landscape
> architecture has not submitted his final version. I would hate to discuss
> in what context the poem was cited within Architect Cho's paper--too
> dangerous, especially because I would be talking on behalf of someone in a
> topic that is not my specialization.
>> Best,
>> Frank
>> All best to you, Frank, and all the others who have been sending such
>> interesting comments.
>> --------------------------------------
>> Frank Hoffmann
>> http://koreaweb.ws
> --
> Young-Key Kim-Renaud, Ph.D.
> Chair, Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures
> Professor of Korean Language and Culture and International Affairs
> The George Washington University
> 801 22nd Street, N.W. (Academic Center, Rome Hall 452)
> Washington, DC 20052
> kimrenau at gwu.edu <kimrenau at email.gwu.edu>
> http://departments.columbian.gwu.edu/eall/people/109
> Tel: (O) 202-994-7107
> Fax: (O) 202-994-1512
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