Naeng Cheon* Byul Gok (Verses for Naeng Cheon)

The one who receives the calling of shaman gods gives all
Losing every penny he owns or else he suffers great pain in his body

The shrines inside these Manshin houses show the depths of respect to shaman spirits
Flags on bamboo poles are hung between the land and the sky
Twelve gods take their places in north, south, east, and west
Never-dying candle flames dance in the front, as guard lights

Settling down at the foot of Mt. Soori Each has many stories to tell
Put in simple words, the rent was cheap
In a few more words, the energy from Mt. Soori brought them here
Prophecies and dreams directed their journey to the town

Greeting spirits at the entrance and serving the supreme deity
The weariness of everyday life lies heavily on each shoulder
The soundness of the body no longer depends on one’s free will

Jumping up with pure joy possessed by spirits
Before they fade, the ancestors greet us

Today the supreme deity shouts aloud
Yesterday a lady deity whispered at the ear
And suddenly tomorrow is here lingering next to me

Confronting ancestors asking how it all began
Wandering in all directions to escape the strong wind of fate
The spirit of the moon still rises over the hill
Let us drink to it in a bowl held with two hands

Doubt in the eyes of outsiders:
What is so intriguing in mundane stories of life?
The listening gods are still very excited

Mountains to mountains
None in particular
Searching for a noted one
Examine along the ridges
Chords broken by destruction
Veins disconnected by a lump of metal
Searching up and down at every bend

Sitting on top of worldly troubles
Let us share stories to live and die in consolation
A puff of smoke airs out a complaint

Ghosts near the Choonghon Tower are shaken by the wind
The flagpole on the rock of Mt. Soori settles on the peak of Gwanmo
Spirits sink into grass and branches

Nervous body and mind before crossing the threshold
Hesitations in front of unfamiliar scenes
A cup of tea warms the heart at once

A place far different from a church
Not a temple
Nor a cathedral

The only decoration is a tree in the corner of a small front yard
Now it’s also gone
Leaving just a shrine

Armed with knowledge and strong will
But no use in the sight of spirits lying before you

Respectful shamans live somewhere in town
Talk to them
Listen to them
Share thoughts in caution
Moving up and down
Our ancient folk religion hides in the cave

Blame it on current situations
Blame it on time
Blame it on social consciousness
Blame it on society
Yet waiting for a complaining wanderer with many words

The best is the finest
The finest is the oldest
Refined in age and earned respect
As checking oneself in a hidden mirror
A layer of wrapping cloths tightly tied on the top

The white flags and red flags found in every two blocks They never walk
They never run
Put down roots on the same old spots
They were the dancing shadows in the slow-paced town of 5 Dong

Grown from the red soil in the valley of pottery in Mt. Soori
Morning glories bloom and die between the fences
Strong wind blows again carrying spirits into your heart

*Naeng Cheon means cold water. Anyang 5-dong is in Naeng Cheon District.


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