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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 39
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On the Road
[East Goes West]
Whirling east and west on a dusty road,
A lonely whip, a lean horse—so much toil!
I know it's good to return home;
But even if I did, my house would still be poor.
Prior to the invention of han'gul, Chinese had served as the written language for many centuries. Educated Koreans well versed in Confucian literature and history wrote thousands of poems in Chinese. Among the most revered poets of the Silla dynasty was Ch'oe Ch'i-won, born in A.D. 857. As a young man, he studied in China and became a prominent scholar, poet, and statesman. In A.D. 885, when the Silla dynasty was in decline, he retired to a monastery.
Translation by Richard J. Lynn
"On the Road" by Ch'oe Ch'i-won. Translated by Peter H. Lee. From Anthology of Korean Literature: From Early Times to the Nineteenth Century, edited by Peter H. Lee, University of Hawai'i Press, © 1981. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.