A young man's determination to maintain his integrity in an unjust society forces him to endure a lonely and dangerous odyssey. When a governor to the King falls into rebel hands, he switches sides to save his skin. When later he is captured by royal troops, it is not only he that is condemned to death as a traitor but his sons and grandsons too. They survive by subterfuge, but though they keep their lives, they have lost their place in society. The Poet tells the story of Kim, the younger grandson, who is consigned to a life of wandering and vagrancy even as he struggles for recognition as a poet, who is constantly tempted to make compromises - to the point of betraying his own family - to survive as an artist and a free spirit.