3 Poems by Kim Su-Bok  김수복

Translated by Brother Anthony


Kim Soo-Bok was born in Hamyang, South Gyeongsang Province, Korea, in 1953. He graduated from the Korean Language and Literature Department of Dankook University, Seoul, and continued his studies there to the completion of his doctorate. His first poems were published in 1975. His published collections include Jirisan taryeong (Ballad of Mount Jiri, 1977); Naje naon bandal (Half moon appearing by day, 1980); Saereul gidarimyeo (Waiting for birds, 1988); Ttodareun saweol (Another April, 1989); Gidohaneun namu (Praying Trees, 1989); Modeun gildeureun noraereul bureunda (All the roads are singing, 1999); Sarajin Pokpo (The vanished waterfall, 2003); Umurui nundongja (The eye of the well, 2004); Dareul ttara geonda (Walking after the moon, 2008); Oibak (Sleeping out, 2012). He has received the Pyeonun Award and the Award for Lyric Poetry. He is at present a professor in the Creative Writing Department of Dankook University.


봄나무 속으로 걸어들어간 다


아무에게나 자꾸 말을 걸고 싶어지는,

불을 끄고 안에 우두커니 앉아 있는,

혼자가 아닌 우리로 피어나고 싶은 눈망울이 보이는,

어디선가 새들의 한숨 섞인 휘파람 길게 들리는,

지층을 뚫고 발바닥이 뜨거워지기를 기다리는,

청천벽력이 지나가는,

막막한 어둠의 눈에 눈동자가 되는,

너의 등을 끌어안고 활짝 웃는,

눈을 감고 한없이 호수의 밑바닥으로 내려가서

눈을 뜨고 죽고 싶었던


이제는 한없이 바람에게 말을 걸고 싶은

봄나무 속으로 걸어들어간다


I Go Walking into a Spring-Tree


Constantly inclined to start talking to anyone,

sitting idly in a room with the light out,

looking like an eye eager to blossom as us, not alone,

echoing long with whistles of birds somewhere mixed with sighs,

piercing earth’s strata then waiting for the feet to grow hotter,

a bolt from the blue passing,

turning into the pupils of the eyes of utter darkness,

hugging your back then beaming broadly,


and in that winter

that longed to close its eyes and go down endlessly to the bottom of a lake

then open its eyes and die,

I now go walking into a spring-tree

longing to start talking endlessly to the wind.




저녁때가 되자 골목을 더욱 깊어졌다


덜컥, 몸이 잠기고

마취된 골목


골목 안의 평화가 잠시 다녀갔다


아득한 ,


내장으로 은밀하게


기쁘게 혹은 슬프게 드나들었던

발자국 소리가 들린다


이제 골목길은


그렇게 집으로 가는 모든 길이 잘려나갔다


노을이 물드는 골목을

필사적으로 빠져나온다


골목 입구에 나서서



모든 절망의 과거를 폭로한다


지나온 모든 민족주의와 모든 자본주의와

사회주의와 맑스와 레닌과 모택동과

그러나 김구와 소월과 윤동주,


그러나 모든 상처는

몸과 거리로 통하는 출구,


골목 안에서 사유를 하고

혁명을 꿈꾸고 권력과 맞서

고독한 쓰레기통 속에서

침을 뱉어 진흙을 눈에 발랐다


눈이 멀어야 눈을 있었다


밖으로 나가는 길을 보이지 않는 ,

들어오는 길만의 고독한



목을 치던 꿈속의 길들도


이제는 눈을 뜨고

아득한 골목이 되었다

An Alley


As soon as evening came it made the alley grow deeper


The alley, anesthetized,

body abruptly locked in.


The peace in the alley has dropped by for a while.


Distant road


Furtively as intestines


There is a sound of feet

that once came and went happily or sadly.


Now that alleyway

has turned into house arrest,

every path leading home has been cut.


I deperately quit

the alley that the sunset glow is coloring.


Once out at the entrance to the alley

I expose falsehood

and cancer cells

and the past of all despair.


All past nationalism and capitalism

and socialism and Marx and Lenin and Mao Tse Tung

but Kim Gu and Sowol and Yun Dong-Ju,


But all wounds

are exits linking body to street,


In the alley

I dreamed of reason

and revolution, stood up to authority,

inside a solitary trashcan

I spat and spread mud over eyes.


Only eyes that were blind could be opened.


No sign of a way leading out,

and even the ways only leading in, those remote


ways in dreams that used to decapitate



Have now opened their eyes

and become far-away alleys.


노을이 물드는 화석


저렇게 핏줄은 말라갔을 것이다

흘릴 눈물도 없는 눈물을

만리 바람의 간절한 소리를

귀에도 들리지 않는 목소리로

강물의 탯줄을

속에서 밀어올렸을 것이다


툭툭, 땅속 폐경이 자궁을 들어올려

아득히 능선 위로 자지러지는

태양을 안으로 조이고 조여서

씨를 받아내었을 것이다


노을에 퍼져

재가 될지라도

천년 광원(光源)

지는 태양 속으로 고이 간직해 내보이면서

, 입을 벌리며 태어나듯이

죽은 몸으로 다시 살아날 것이다


Fossil Colored by Sunset’s Glow


That’s the way veins must have dried.

Tears with no more tears left,

the ardent sound of far distant wind

as a voice my ears cannot hear,

that long river’s umbilical cord,

these I must have thrust up from within


Tap tap, raising up a menopausal womb from underground,

squeezing, squeezing inside the body the sun

petrified above the distant ridge,

I must have obtained a seed.


Even though I turn to ash

spread out in the twilight glow,

displaying a millennial source of light

cherished as the setting sun,

like one leaf or two born open mouthed

I will come back to life as a dead body.