A Poem Playfully Presented to Cho Kongnye
Kim Chong-hui 1786-1856
Here, take my brother's paduk stones,
I give them all to you without regret.
I heard that once a dragon gave birth
To a mass of specks, shaped like fruit pits,
That's how these stones of black and white came to be.
They are taboo to people taking tests:
For the white ones portend you'll suddenly draw a blank;
And the black ones stand for the ink you're forced to drink.
They're truly omens of a gloomy, hopeless future
Like slimy eels you'd never eat before a test.
Isn't it odd that a man as vastly talented as you
Should still be stuck in the same humble job!
A hundred things easily haunt you;
And many a dream of yours turns into a nightmare fright.
Isn't all this the dreadful upshot of the game?
You must decide and choose between win and loss.
Besides, when life's end suddenly seems of short extent,
Young fellows will pick on you and turn you away.
The woes to come are many, that's plain for all to see,
And so I grieve and sigh for you, my friend.
Jīn Zhèngxǐ 1786-1856
Ā zhòng shǒuzhōng qí
Wǒ wén lǎo Lóngzǐ
Duòtāi rúguǒ hé
Cǐ qí zhī huàchéng
Jǔzǐ suǒ jì kēi
Bái zhě zhào yèbái
Hēi zhě xiàng yǐn mò
Qí xiàng shèn bù jí
Rú zhāng jǔ bù shí
Guài jūn qīng yún shǒu
Láng qián jiǔ bī zè
bǎi shì yì chéng mó
liù mèng huò wèi è
jiēshì qí suǒ shǐ
Déshī yīng zì zé
Yòu fù hū jiǎn nián
Shǎo zhě chéng qīn chì
Qí hài nǎirú cǐ
Wèi jūn yī tàixī
Translated by Hyong Rhew, professor of Chinese literature at Reed College, Portland, Oregon.