Monday, August 20, 2018

Vernon Mooers writes

The Rock of Falling Petals 

Here are the mountains 
the jagged edge of cliff
where the fires burned
and the knives were thrust
chastity maintained
the honor of a thousand years
when the Paekche Kingdom fell.
the dresses flow like parachutes
flutter in the wind like chestnut leaves
the wings of wild ducks; their arms
outstretched like weeping willow branches
wave like a stream through forest leaves
         akashia flowers in the spring
         scatter on the path like fresh-fallen snow
three thousand fallen women
weep and jump to their death
from high atop Nak’waam rock
then float
down into the trees and valley
where the Paengmagang river flows

1 comment:

  1. Sabi (modern Buyeo) was one of the ancient capitals of the Baekje ("Hundred Vassals") kingdom in southwest Korea. The realm was established in 18 BCE by Onjo, the 3rd son of Goguryeo's founder, and it alternately battled and allied with Goguryeo and Silla as the three kingdoms expanded control over the peninsula. At its peak in the 4th century, Baekje controlled most of the western Korean peninsula as far north as Pyongyang and may have even held territories in China, such as in Liaoxi. It became a significant regional sea power, with political and trade relations with China and Japan, and was instrumental in the dissemination of Buddhism throughout East Asia and of writing, Buddhism, advanced pottery, ceremonial burial, and other aspects of Chinese culture to the Japanese rulers of the Kofun period. Some historians even posit that provided the ancestors of the Japanese imperial line in Yamato. In 475 Goguryeo forced Baekje to move its capital to Ungjin (Gongju), but in 538 king Seong moved it to Sabi and rebuilt his kingdom into a strong state known as Nambuyeo ("Southern Buyeo"). However, in the 7th century, with the growing influence of Silla in the southern and central Korean peninsula, Baekje began to decline. Its 31st and final monarch was Uija (641-660), the eldest son of king Mu, a peasant who married Silla princess Seonhwa. (Uija was his personal name; he did not receive a posthumous name.) Soon upon taking the throne Uija undertook to control the powers of the aristocracy, but his reign was plagued by internal power struggles among the nobles and the corruption and decadence within the court. His queen, Eun’go, was regarded by the Japanese as one of the chief reasons for the kingdom’s downfall.During this time Goguryeo’s aggressive stances led Silla to ally with the Tang dynasty of China. Uija allied with Goguryeo and in 642 invaded Silla, conquering some 40 castles; the next year Goguryeo and Baekje attacked Silla again. When Silla-Tang forces attacked Goguryeo in 645, Uija attacked Silla and took 7 castles. The 2 kingdoms hit Silla's northern border again in 655. But in 660, the Silla-Tang coalition attacked Baekje and defeated their enemy near near Nonsan. The capital Sabi fell almost immediately. Uija and 3,000 court ladies and concubines fled through Sabiseong, a backyard garden of the royal palace designed to be an emergency escape route. Saying, “We would rather take our own lives than die in the hands of others.” the women threw themselves off a rock ledge into the Baengma river; the rock came to be known as Nakhwaam (Cliff of Falling Flowers). Silla annexed Baekje and exiled Uija to China, while much of the ruling class fled to Japan. In 663 Baekje captains commanded a Japanese fleet against the Silla-Tang forces in 5 battles at Baekgang but lost 400 ships and about ½ its troops. One of Uija’s sons Buyeo Seon'gwang took the Japanese name Zenkō, and his family was assimilated into the Jaanese aristocracy in 691; soon after they were granted the Kudara no Konikishi ("King of Baekje") surname to reaffirm the vassal status of Silla. In 790 the Kudara clan was designated "relatives by marriage." Uija’s grandson Buyeo Sa (Teika-Ō in Japanese) also became the ancestor of several Japanese clans but was assassinated by Silla agents.


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