BACK TO HEAVEN: Poems by Ch'on Sang-pyong

Translated by Brother Anthony of Taize and Young-Moo Kim
Copyright 1995 by Brother Anthony

Published by Cornell East Asia Series and UNESCO Publishing (Paris) 1995

Cornell University, 140 Uris Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-7601, USA

ISBN (paperback) 1-885445-77-6

Also available in a bilingual edition published by DapGae (Seoul) and Cornell East Asia Series in 1996 (now in its 18th reprint)


The way rivers all flow into the sea
is not the only reason I've been weeping
all day long
up on the hill.

It's not the only reason I've been blooming
in longing like a sunflower
all night long
up on the hill.

The reason I'm weeping for sorrow like an animal
up on the hill
is not only because of the way
rivers all just flow into the sea.

Back to Heaven

I'll go back to heaven again.
Hand in hand with the dew
that melts at a touch of the dawning day,

I'll go back to heaven again.
With the dusk, together, just we two,
at a sign from a cloud after playing on the slopes

I'll go back to heaven again.
At the end of my outing to this beautiful world
I'll go back and say: It was beautiful. . . .

Song of a small tomb
- One autumn day, 1970

Father and mother lie
in the family burial plot at home

I'm all on my own
here in Seoul

brother and sisters
are down in Pusan

I don't have the fare
so I can't go.

If there's a fare to pay
when you pass away

does that mean
I'll never be able to go?

When you think of it, ah,
what a deep thing life is.


I want wings.
I want wings
that will carry me wherever I want.
I can't understand why God
didn't give humans wings.
Being a pauper
the only trip I've ever had was our honeymoon
but I want to go any and everywhere.
Once I have wings I'll be satisfied.
give me wings, please. . .


I'm the happiest man
in the world.

Since my wife runs a cafe
I've no need to worry about making ends meet
and I went to university
so there's nothing lacking in my education
and because I'm a poet
my desire for fame is satisfied
I have a pretty wife too
so I don't think about women
and we have no children
no need to worry about the future
we have a house as well
I'm really very comfortable.
I'm fond of makkolli
my wife always buys it for me
so what have I got to complain of?
I firmly believe in God
and since the mightiest person
in the whole wide world
is looking after my interests
how can anyone say misfortune's coming?