Friday, October 28, 2016

David Norris writes

Eunhang Namu, Danpoong Namu: The Maple Wears Red, The Gingko Wears Yellow

I walked today among the rocks
and foliage of Soraksan
fall filling the air
stopping to eat a bit of gamja buchim
to sip a little makoli with haraboji.

Grandfather passed me the rice wine,
and we ate the potato pancakes as
he told me the story of Sun Nyeo,
who flew back to the stars after
visiting the pool beside our table,
a place in which she chose to bathe
because of its great beauty.

I looked down beside us,
over the rocks, at the cold, crystal
clear water within the basin, in which
a single leaf, red and gold, was
turning in the flow of the stream
as it drifted down from the mountain.

Grandfather and I watched
the birds flying among the branches
of the trees, the red of the maple,
the yellow of the ginko,
the leaves of the cherry turning
from green to gold to red to brown:
our youth spent, the harvest of our labor
the blood of the sacrifice, and finally our return.

I looked up and saw a tree
growing out of the side of the mountain,
out of solid rock, and remembered
the stories told of how a tree that grows
too large will bring itself crashing down
from the burden of its own weight.

As I returned from the mountain,
walking through Buddha’s Gate
I watched halmonee  peeling
a persimmon for a young couple
and thought of how years ago
in her youth, this grandmother had paid
an old woman to do the same for her.

 Seoraksan National Park - Geumganggul Cave


  1. Seoraksan (Snowy Crags Mountain) is the 3rd-highest mountain in South Korea, near Sokcho. Its Daechongbong peak is 1,708 m (5,603 ft) high. The autumn colors in the area are considered amongst the most beautiful in Korea. Once God summoned all of the rocks in Korea to come together to create the world's most beautiful mountain, Geumgangsan, in North Korea, which is named differently depending on the season [in the summer it is Pongraesan (the place where a Spirit dwells), in autumn, Phung'aksan (great mountain of colored leaves), in winter, Kaegolsan (stone bone mountain)], but an enormous rock from Ulsan arrived too late to be incorporated, but it settled at Seoraksan and became Ulsanbawi. Sun Nyeo was a heavenly nymph-like being who went to the rocky pool at Biseondae to bathe. The "Valley of a Thousand Buddhas" is so-called because the rock formations that line its sides resemble a line-up of Buddha statues. A haraboji is a grandfather or an elderly man, while a halmonee is a grandmother or an elederly woman. "Gamja buchim" are potato pancakes with shredded vegetables such as squash, zucchini, leeks, and peppers. Makoli ("mak" means "roughly, coarsely, recklessly, carelessly" and "geoll" is a deverbal noun derived from the verb "georeu" meaning "to strain, sift, filter") is a milky, slightly sweet alcoholic beverage made from nuruk, a fermenation starter, mixed with rice (or sometimes wheat).

  2. What a dream team! My respite well spent~ thanks from a local ;)

  3. It takes me back to the place. Haven't been there for 7 years. Fall was my favourite season there. It was perfect!!


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