Ko Un's poem "Around Unmun Temple at Ch'Eongdo" can be read, in its English translation by Sunny Jung (and Hillel Schwartz?), at the Poetry Foundation website. There's a lot to unpack in this poem, so I'm making an question asking for general/overall analysis of the poem.

The setting is Unmunsa in Cheongdo, but what is "the holy mountain", and holy in which religion? Why is the narrator's "body covered with shame", and why do they feel themselves "unable to go" forward or back? What difference would a barking dog make to their situation? What does it mean that the temple has no "grand sounds" or "great thoughts", and why is this? Why are the nuns and priestesses identified with cabbage heads "all the same size"? What's the significance of comparing their faces to "dew" and "hoarfrost"?

Basically, what is this poem all about?


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