(Translation) 烈婦入江

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Original Script

烈婦. 京山人. 進士裵中善女也. 旣笄. 歸士族李東郊. 善治內事. 洪武庚申. 倭賊逼京山. 闔境擾攘. 無敢禦者. 東郊時赴合浦帥幕. 未還. 賊騎突入烈婦所居里. 烈婦. 抱乳子走. 賊追之及江. 江水方漲. 烈婦度不能脫. 置乳子岸上. 走入江. 賊持滿注矢擬之曰. 而來. 免而死. 烈婦顧見賊. 罵曰. 何不速殺我. 我豈汚賊者邪. 賊發矢中肩. 再發再中. 遂歿於江中. 體覆使趙浚. 上其事. 族表里門.

【詩】島夷來逼孰能當. 闔境蒼皇走且僵.

  忍見亂兒呱岸上. 自知難脫赴滄浪.

  倭寇由來性不仁. 那知烈婦行眞純.

  灘聲千載猶悲咽. 到此無人不愴神.


Student Translation : Petra Sváková

A devoted wife enters the river

The devoted wife, a person of Kyŏngsan, was chinsa1 Pae Jungsŏn's daughter. She had already passed the age of 152 and got married to I Donggyu of a literati family. She was good at managing internal matters. In the Kyŏngshin year of Hongmu's reign3 Japanese pirates were oppressing Kyŏngsan. They surrounded the place and caused troubles. [There was] nobody who would dare to resist. Donggyu, at the time, went to Happ'o to commander's headquarters [but] did not come back. The bandits' cavalry suddenly entered the town [where] the devoted wife was living. The devoted wife embraced a baby she was breastfeeding and ran away. The bandits chased after her until the river. The river water was just then increasing. The devoted wife figured that she could not escape. She put the baby down on the riverbank and running entered the river. The bandits drew [their] bows and with all strength directed arrows, targeted her and said: "You, come [here], if not you will die." The devoted wife turned around and looked at the bandits, [while] scolding [them] she said: "Why don't you kill me quickly? How could I be blemished by [those who are] the bandits?" The bandits shot the arrows and hit [her] shoulder. They shot again and hit [her] again. Thereupon she died inside the river. Ch'eboksa4 Cho Chun sent the matter up and a banner was displayed at the gate of the town.

The island barbarians came to oppress [us], who can oppose [them]? They surrounded the area, the people agitatedly ran away as well as remained stiff and fell.

[The devoted wife] bore to see the confused child crying on the riverbank. Knowing [that it would be] difficult to escape, she advanced to the cold waves [of the river].

The Japanese pirates' nature originally is not benevolent. How would they know [that] the devoted wife's behaviour is so genuine?

The rapids' sound of thousand years is like sadly crying. Heretofore, no one will be not broken-hearted.

1 進士 - literally meaning is 'an advanced scholar', in the Chosǒn period it was a scholar who has only passed the first examination for office.

2 笄 - a large pin for holding hair, girls began to wear this pin when they were at the age of 15.

3 洪武庚申 - should mean the 57th year of the emperor Hongmu(ch. Hongwu)'s reign(1368 - 1398). However, this is a year of the reign of his son Yǒngnak (ch. Yongle; 1402 - 1424) who usurped the throne from his nephew and dated the first year of his reign as the '35th year of Hogmu's reign (洪武三十五年)'. Thus 洪武庚申 is 1424.
(YO) 洪武庚申 should be 1380 (Hongwu 13). See https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E6%B4%AA%E6%AD%A6

4 體覆使 - an official who received an order from the king and had to go to provinces to investigate crimes connected to the military affairs.

  • Discussion Questions:

+ In the poem, how could be the last character 神 translated?

(Fran): The repetition of the phrase "the devoted wife" sounds a bit stilted. I wonder if the modifier "devoted" can be dropped after the first mention. It should be "The bandits drew their bows" to maintain consistent tense.

(Kyrie) I see your point about the repetition of "devoted" before wife, but I think that the "devoted" is part of her identity and therefore it is alright to repeat it. She is not just any wife. The story wants to stress that she is a devoted wife and it is for her devotion that she receives the gate. Here 乳子 is translated as a verb and object "a baby she was breastfeeding." This sounds like the devoted wife was in the middle of breastfeeding her baby when the bandits arrived. However, I understood it more as a compound noun meaning a newborn infant who was still at the breastfeeding stage. My suggestion would be to translate it as "The devoted wife embraced her newborn baby/infant and ran away." (YO) I take Kyrie's points.

(JG) Regarding Petra's question, I translated the whole phrase as broken-spirited.

(YO) Some translation suggestions: (1) 歸士族李東郊 "(She) was married to Yi Tonggyo from a literati family." (2) "chased after her until the river" --> "chased after her to the river" or "until they reached a river". (3) "running entered the river" --> "ran into the river" (3) "drew [their] bows and with all strength directed arrows" 持滿注矢擬之 --> drew their bows fully (持滿), loading arrows on them (注矢), and aimed at her (擬之). (4) "Japanese pirates' nature originally is not benevolent" --> "Japanese pirates are not benevolent by nature".