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A fisherman’s song

Posted July. 07, 2023 08:08,   

Updated July. 07, 2023 08:08


A poet, distancing himself from the tumultuous affairs of the world, finds refuge in the embrace of nature, where he can “loosen his belt as the wind breezes through the pine trees” and “strum the strings of the geomungo under the moonlit mountains.” In his youth, he had been burdened with the responsibilities of a government official, caught between the relentless pursuit of prosperity and the struggle to escape poverty. Realizing this constant battle's futility, the poet returns to his hometown. In the “old forest where I once belonged,” the poet’s restless soul, exhausted by the dilemma between poverty and ambition, finally discovers serenity in the gentle breeze and the moonlight. A friend of the poet, also trapped in the same dilemma, asks the poet to reveal the secret to liberating oneself from the dilemma of poverty and success. The poet’s response is an enigmatic metaphor: “A fisherman’s song drifts away far beyond the harbor.” Although initially sounds off-point, the friend eventually grasps the meaning behind the poet’s words. It is the call to accept one’s circumstances and embrace life as it is rather than trying to fight against the currents of life.

“A Fisherman’s Song” illustrates Qu Yuan’s encounter with a fisherman during exile. Curious about the reasons behind Qu Yuan’s banishment, the fisherman inquires. Qu Yuan defends himself, saying, “I remained honest in a murky world, and while others were drunk, I preserved my sanity.” The fisherman offers advice in response: “When the water is clear, cleanse your hat’s string; however, when the water is murky, wash your feet.” Through this metaphor, the fisherman urges the poet not to be overly judgmental and to adapt to his tumultuous or orderly circumstances.