Elegy for Chuihyang’s Daughter

Kang Jijaedang

You shadowed your grandmother For dates, chestnuts, nougat, pears And on summer-like fall days Wept in your weak weanling voice

Trying hard to hold back tears Makes one step a leap of faith This grieving, hurt mother has Tears shed along with flowers

Shamans and doctors alike Have been consulted in vain It rains, is windy and dark How heartless your father is

The way to death being long You might look for your mother Half fog, half rain, moonlit night Your voice will be lost and dim

Wrapped up tight in a silk skirt You were buried at a hill Just yesterday you played with This silk piece that breaks my heart Your mother’s away from home Wallowing in the sad past Be not my daughter again Next life, be a noble boy

Kang Jijaedang (강지재당 / 姜只在堂) (19th~early 20th century) was a courtesan poet of the late Joseon dynasty and the early Korean Empire, a tumultuous era leading right up to the time of Japanese colonial rule. She became a courtesan at a young age, around ten. After her death, her second husband put together two collections of her poetry, and only one of them survived the following century and much national unrest afterward.