in a remote korean village poem analysis

In a Remote Korean Village by Chang Soo Ko – Commentary by Danni Wang There comes a time in everyone’s life when they must learn to fend for themselves. In a Remote Korean Village by Chang Soo Ko reflects the ability of an individual to continue to grow despite the absence of a guiding figure in his or her life. Through an extended metaphor, and the use of peaceful imagery, suitable for a time of self-discovery, the speaker shows how the progression of a tree through the seasons reflects the progression of the speaker through a critical point in his life.

A tree cannot grow new leaves unless the dead leaves are gone first, and in the first stanza as the “gentle gardener” shakes the tree “with a strange passion,” the gardener’s act seems threatening and violent, but in reality, he does this out of strong affection for it. From there on, the tree is left empty, and Chang links this independent growth of a tree to a time in his own life when he felt alone, described in the second stanza as “the lost river of my existence. ” He feels “lost” because he has been abandoned, but one has to hit rock bottom before being able to grow from the experience and move on.

In the end, the tree “glowed again with golden leaves,” showing the success of the tree to thrive again on its own, just as the gardener intended from the start. Like the tree, the speaker realizes that he is able to move on as well. Chang’s use of an extended metaphor is carried throughout the entire length of the poem, using the outward changes occurring to the tree to symbolize what he is feeling inwardly, as he goes through this difficult period in his life. At first, with the gardener present, the gingko tree is described to be “like a peacock spreading its feathers,” personifying the tree as being proud in its glorious display.

The speaker himself was likely content with himself and his achievements at one point, while still under the guidance of a “gardener,” symbolizing someone who once supported him. The gardener is then introduced to be “in the center of the tree,” indicating the gardener’s importance in the tree’s life, and therefore the importance of the whoever the guiding figure may have been in the speaker’s life. However, this image of the “gentle gardener” is then juxtaposed next to the simile appearing “like a black magician” in order to hint at the gardener’s hidden intentions efore he departs, leaving the tree on its own, and the leaves begin to “fall endlessly” from the tree. The descent of these leaves indicate the descent of the speaker’s mood, and perhaps everything that was once dear to him, just as leaves are depicted as the life and beauty of a tree. After this guiding figure has left, the speaker feels like a “lost river”, and questions the reason for his existence, an almost suicidal and depressing feeling Chang has incorporated that many readers can relate to a point in their own lives.

The “stiff boughs of the tree” that overshadow the speaker’s life “like a spiderweb” leave a haunting and ominous feeling in the air, but this overshadowing of the tree as it “spread[s]” over the speaker’s life, links the two of them together. Finally, “the landscape change[s],” symbolizing a time of change and rejuvenation, and the tree is personified as it “beg[ins] to dance” an indicator of freedom and joy, despite the presence of its “dark” memories from the grim season before.

This image of the tree going through a literal winter reflects on the speaker going through a metaphorical “winter” of his life, and emerging from it with renewed hope and energy, as he “glow[s]” and “dance[s]”. The imagery in this poem is very soft and pastoral, due to the location it is set in. The title, In a Remote Korean Village, sets an image of peace and serenity. The use of the word “Remote” gives it a natural, pure connotation that allows an atmosphere for free thought and expression.

The word “Village” comes with an image of non-clutter and quietness that a more urban setting would not have had. The poem describes this “remote” location, focussing on parts of nature such as the tree, its branches, and the coming and passing of the seasons, which further sets this image of perfect harmony. The use of seasons instantly draws images; autumn is a time of loss, winter being a time of rest and renewal, and the end of winter signalling new life and a fresh start. These physical images instantly connect to the speaker’s emotional experiences, due to the feelings that come with each season.

The simplicity and purity of the poem as a whole makes it the perfect scene for one to seek within oneself, independent from external influence, and learn to grow as an individual. A slow and peaceful tone is perpetuated throughout the entire poem by the repeated use of alliteration and assonance. The “en” sound such as in “gentle gardener”, the “o” sound in “showed” and “golden”, the “an” sound in “standing” and “strange”, as well as numerous others found consistently throughout the entire text, that all delay the speed of the poem.

This delayed speed contributes to the often slow process one goes through as they discover and find peace within themselves. The consistent use of alliteration, such as in “gentle gardener” and “winter winds” creates a smooth and euphonious effect that moves the poem along at a steady pace. This pace is used to place emphasis on the fact that the growth of an individual must occur at a natural speed, just like the unrushed growth of a tree. In the second stanza, the author states “whether I listened to music or walked the streets / the leaves fell endlessly”.

This describes the carrying out of daily actions such as “walk[ing]”, which typically helps clear the mind and allows one to think better, indicates that the speaker is in a state of thought and reflection. However, him being unmoved by music, as well as his “endlessly” declining mood, contributes to the tone of despair and loss carried throughout the second stanza. However, in the third stanza there is increased movement, “A few leaves rustled in the wind,” and “the boughs shivered feebly”.

Both “rustl[ing]” and “shiver[ing]” are small, subtle movements, but nonetheless this movement indicates the beginning of recovery, and adds a tone of renewed hope for both the tree and the speaker. In the end, Chang came through this critical point in his life, and showed that although it may be difficult, it is both possible and necessary for one to learn and make mistakes at a natural pace on their own in order to grow. Eventually, everyone will discover that they will be just fine, even when there is no one else to be seen.

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