One of the most inspiring phrases among hikers in “The Analects of Confucius” is: “Wise men love oceans while benevolent men love mountains.” This may imply that benevolence is a superior quality than wisdom. Nevertheless, it does not matter at all which one has the moral high ground. There is no competition between oceans and mountains. Poet Jeong Ji-yong led a life mixed with moments in oceans and mountains.
While Jeong wrote poetry on oceans when young, he grew older to prefer to be inspired by mountains. The former is characterized by his outstanding inspirations and the latter shows how deep and wide his mentality was. If asked which one is better, I cannot answer. However, I can tell you which one I prefer. My answer is an ocean-themed serial poetry because I may still hope to become a wise man rather than being a kind one.
Here is one of the serial poetry pieces. This six-line poem gives me a clear feeling of fullness. Looking at this piece brings me to Jeong, a man of rather short stature standing in front of a grand ocean under the moonlight. Although not any person looks larger than oceans, this poet never looks smaller than the night ocean. His loneliness is deep enough to arouse oceans and night.
Unbelievably, it was 100 years ago when he wrote this incredible poetry. Jeong did not go to school to learn poetry nor had anyone to guide him. Given that the poet was born in an inland region, Okcheon, North Chungcheong Province, he must not have been on the waterfront at a young age. He encountered an ocean when he was onboard to study in Japan. A poetry written in solitude on a deck is still alive over 100 years later. It is not an exaggeration that he is genius and his poetry is a textbook.