Meteor, Setting Sun
(별똥, 지는 해)

poem by
Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)
year of publication
1935
poetry collection
Jeong Ji-yong Poetry Book
(정지용 시집), 1935
별똥
Meteor

별똥 떨어진 곳
Where a meteor fell
마음에 두었다
I made a note in mind
다음날 가보려
To go see the next day
벼르다 벼르다
But kept putting it off
인젠 다 자랐소
Until I'm all grown now
별똥

별똥 떨어진 곳
마음에 두었다
다음날 가보려
벼르다 벼르다
인젠 다 자랐소

Meteor

Where a meteor fell
I made a note in mind
To go see the next day
But kept putting it off
Until I'm all grown now
fiery sunset
video frame by PixaBay at pexels.com

Here are two of Jeong Ji-yong's short children's poems that are in fact more than just for children. One is witty and ironical, and the other a sad cry against the cruel and indifferent world.

Meteor (별똥) is a cute work concerning an irony of life, one about how we busily make plans which never seem to turn out as we intended. If you're religiously inclined, you might think that it's because mere mortals plan and plan but it is God who directs their steps. If not, you can take it like the well known saying that Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans. It was made more popular by a John Lennon song that used it, but it is said to have orginated from the 1950s. Jeong's work touches on the same theme, I think, through the words of a (presumed) boy who planned to go check the meteor site but kept procrastinating for one reason or another until, voila!, he's all grown up. Isn't that cute!

Setting Sun (지는 해) is not a cute story but a sad one. A girl is looking at the sun going down in the west, where she thinks her older brother has gone, perhaps for good, judging form the tone of the line. In her eyes, the sky appears all bloody red and scary, making her wonder, or she might really be trying to distract herself by thinking whether there's a war or fire. It is a stark cry at the merciless reality, which was all too often the norm in those days almost a century ago. Too many families went asunder, too many men and women were sent to labor camps or to a war not knowning why they had to fight it, and those left behind had to live waiting, waiting, and waiting, often times never seeing them again. Jeong Ji-yong's Setting Sun reads like a scene in such a story.

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Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)

Prominent poet and educator who spearheaded Korean literature's modernistic movement of the 1930s by composing poems on wide-ranging subjects with penetrating and observant language

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)
Nine Star Valley (구성동)
Lake (호수)
The Other Side of the Mountain (산 넘어 저쪽에는)
Meteor (별똥)
Meteor (지는 해)
Rain (비)
Star (별)
Spring Snow (춘설)