Homeplace
(고향)

poem by
Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)
year of publication
1932
poetry collection
Jeong Ji-yong Poetry Collection
(정지용 시집), 1935
song composed by
Chae Dong-seon (채동선)
song performed by
Sumi Jo (조수미)
고향
Homeplace

고향에 고향에 돌아와도
Here I am back at my homeplace
그리던 고향은 아니러뇨
But it is not the home I've longed for

산꿩이 알을 품고
Wild pheasants nurse their eggs
뻐꾸기 제철에 울건만
Cuckoos calling as they do in season

마음은 제 고향 지니지 않고
Only my heart isn't embracing its home
머언 항구만 떠도는 구름
Like a cloud adrift over a distant port

오늘도 뫼끝에 홀로 오르니
As usual I climb a mountain alone today
흰 점꽃이 인정스레 웃고
Where a white flower smiles at me warmly

어린시절에 불던 풀피리 소리 아니 나고
The grass whistle from childhood won't make a tune
메마른 입술에 쓰디쓰다
Leaving a bitter taste on my dry lips

고향에 고향에 돌아와도
Here I am back at my homeplace
그리던 하늘만이 높푸르구나
With only the good old sky still soaring blue
고향

고향에 고향에 돌아와도
그리던 고향은 아니러뇨

산꿩이 알을 품고
뻐꾸기 제철에 울건만

마음은 제 고향 지니지 않고
머언 항구만 떠도는 구름

오늘도 뫼끝에 홀로 오르니
흰 점꽃이 인정스레 웃고

어린시절에 불던 풀피리 소리 아니 나고
메마른 입술에 쓰디쓰다

고향에 고향에 돌아와도
그리던 하늘만이 높푸르구나

Homeplace

Here I am back at my homeplace
But it is not the home I've longed for

Wild pheasants nurse their eggs
Cuckoos calling as they do in season

Only my heart isn't embracing its home
Like a cloud adrift over a distant port

As usual I climb a mountain alone today
Where a white flower smiles at me warmly

The grass whistle from childhood won't make a tune
Leaving a bitter taste on my dry lips

Here I am back at my homeplace
With only the good old sky still soaring blue
Homeplace (고향), sung by Sumi Jo (조수미)
Jeong Ji-yong poetry book
Jeong Ji-yong Poetry Book
photo from
The Academy of Korean Studies
(aks.ac.kr/index.do)

Despite its similar title, the sentiments exuded by Homeplace (고향) is radically different from the author's other famous work Home Longing (향수). While the other work was all about the warm, nostalgic feelings one has toward one's roots, this poem is a quiet brooding of a young man who can't have such feelings at all. It depicts a person who returned to his home, as Jeong Ji-yong did after his studies in Japan, where he just can't feel at home. Although it is not explicitly mentioned in the verse, the reason is rather obvious: it is the despairing reality that his home is now under control of a foreign country, the imperial Japan at the time. He couldn't claim his homeland as his own, which changes everything.

The mood is bleak and somber, but it still moves you in its sad way. The protagonist finds nature the same as he knew it, but his own heart cannot accept the place as before. He broods, climbs a mountain, tries the grass whistle he played with as a boy, but in the end he only finds the soaring old sky the same as before.

Chae Dong-seon's tune is every bit as sad and subdued as the words of the poem. The words and music are made for each other here, escalating the pathos which seems to have a purifying effect on your heart. It is one of the best loved works, and my personal favorite, of Jeong Ji-yong.

Comments and Questions

comments powered by Disqus

Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)

A prominent poet and educator who spearheaded the new modernistic trend of the 1930s through his works on wide-ranging subjects feauring sensual language and keen observation

aritist
Jeong Ji-yong (정지용, 鄭芝溶), poet
pen name
Jiryong (지룡, 池龍)
nationality
Korea
born
June 20, 1902,
in Okcheon, N. Chungcheong Province, Korea
(충청북도 옥천군)
died
September 25, 1950 (unconfirmed)
genre
lyric poetry
major works
Home Longing (항수)
Homeplace (고향)
Windowpane (유리창)
Rain (비)
The Sea 1 (바다 1)
Lake (호수)
The Other Side of the Mountain (산 넘어 저쪽에는)
Cafe France (카페 프란스)
The Road Home (귀로)
Pomegranate (석류)