Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Vernon Mooers writes

Train From Taegu

The coach creeps across the plain
rolls through the fog and mountains
along the river and its boats
   sneaks toward the sea.
The printing blocks collect dust
on Haeinsa Temple shelves.
The stones of Katbawi
the Buddhist image of Yakayorae
rest in granite rock on Mount Chuwang.
On the platform a woman waits
A daughtered bundle of warmth
stirs in the wrap cloth of her back.
She waits for her man
   but he does not come this day
   nor yesterday.
The Pugok hot springs boil like a kettle
and spew from the rock their steamsulpher salts:
the tears of hell seep and weep
their way to the sea.
The woman feels the baby stir
hears a whimper, then a scream
cries loud enough
to drown out
the sound of the departing train.
She will come again tomorrow, when
the leaves fall in the mountains
and wait,
in cold November air.

Praying Mother and Child

1 comment:

  1. Daegu (or Taegu, “large hill”) is one of the largest cities in South Korea, with over 5 million residents; its population increased more than tenfold since the mid-1950s. It is a very old city, predating Korea itself as a political entity. Before 757 it was known as Dalgubeol, a walled town that had some relationship with the Jinhan confederacy which itself was part of the loose Samhan confederation that arose after the fall of Jin in the 2nd or 3rd century BCE; within the Jinhan, six chiefdoms unified to form Silla in ca 57 BCE, and Daigubeol was absorbed into Silla by the 5th century, on its way to unifying the Korean peninsula for the first time in the late 7th century. Silla king Sinmun tried to move his capital from Gyeonju to Dalgubeol in 689 to strengthen royal authority, but the political elites in the capital prevented the transfer. Although much of Korea has become Christian over the last century, Buddhism has remained strong in the Taegu area, where many temples still flourish. Between 1011 and 1087, the “Tripitaka Koreana” (Palman Daejanggyeong, “80,000 Tripitaka” ), the world’s most complete set of Buddhist scriptures, treatises, and laws, were carved onto 81,258 wooden printing blocks and stored at Buinsa [Buin Temple] in Daegu, but they were destroyed by the Mongols in 1232. A new edition was begun in 1237 and completed in 1249 and housed at Haeinsa (Temple of the Ocean Mudra) since 1398; the monk Sugi had carefully policed the work to prevent errors, then published 30 volumes of “Additional Records” to annote errors, redundancies, and omissions that he had found during his comparisons of the different versions of the Tripitaka. Each block was made of birch wood soaked in sea water for three years, cut, and then boiled in salt water before being put in a shady placed and exposed to the wind for three more years before being carved. Then it was covered in a poisonous lacquer to keep insects away and framed with metal to prevent warping. The four storage halls were built at the highest point of the temple (655 m above sea level) and face southwest to avoid damp southeasterly winds from the valley below; they are blocked from the cold north wind by mountain peaks. Not of the complex is exposed to the sun. Ventilation is from different-size windows on the north and south sides, utilizing principles of hydrodynamics. The clay floors were filled with charcoal, calcium oxide, salt, lime, and sand to reduce humidity by absorbing excess moisture, which is then retained during the dry winter. The roof is also made with clay, and its bracketing and wood rafters prevent sudden changes in temperature. At the top of the 850-m (2,790 ft) Palgongsan sits the Gatbawi (Gwanbong Seokjoyeoraejwasang) [Stone Hat Buddha], a 4 m (13 ft) single granite Buddhist statue with a 15-cm (6 in) flat stone on his head that resembles a gat, the traditional horsehair hat worn only by married middle class men to indicate their status and protect their topknots. It was carved by Uihyeon in the 7th year of the reign of Silla queen Seondeok, who was only the 2nd female sovereign in East Asian history. A big crane guarded; because a giant crane guarded Uiheon every night during the statue’s creation, it is regarded as a miraculous Buddha stone which grants all sincere wishes. Juwangsan (the Mountain of King Ju) may have recived its name because king Juwon lived there after surrendering Silla over to Goryeo; alternatively, it could have been named after the rebel Judo, who called himself “juwang” (king of Zhou), fled there after his unsuccessful coup attempt the against Tang dynasty of China. Bugok ("kettle valley") is a hot springs named for the large kettles used for transporting and reheating the water.


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