Until Peonies Bloom



The Complete Poems of Kim Yeong-Nang


Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé

Foreword by Kim Seon-tae



A thing of beauty is a joy for ever






Introduction ii by Professor Kim Seon-tae ii, Korean Department, Mokpo University ii

1. The Poets Life ii

2. The Poetry v

3. In Context viii

Translators Note 10

Poems 1930–1935 2


An Endless River Flows 3

ٷ 4

As I Lay Stretched Out on a Hill 5

- dz γ 6

Why, Autumn Colors Are Coming! 7

() 8

New Years Eve 9

տ 10

Before a Desolate Grave 11

Թڴ 12

Falling Snowflakes 13

ӻ̴ ޹ 14

Sunlight Whispering on Stone Walls 15


A Springtime Heart Off to Fields in Dreams 17


Faint Perfume 19


Dreams I Used to Have 21

ƽ 22

Someone Who Knows My Heart 23

ó Ҹ 24

The Sound of a Stream 25

̾ 26

Stung by a Look 27

Ƿ 28

Borne on Tears 29

״ ȣɵ Ͻ ϴ 30

You Are Worthy to Speak in a Commanding Tone 31


Lying Sick Alone, I Pray 33


At the Sight of Water 35

(˽) ٴ 36

At the Tip of the Gangseondae Rock Pinacle 37

Ʋ dz(ͯ) 򸶷翡 38

On an Old-style Twisted Dovetail Back-porch 39

() 40

Bulji-am, Buddha-World Hermitage 41

DZ 44

Until Peonies Bloom 45

ΰ(̻) 46

The Cuckoo 47

û (٥) 50

Brightness 51

ȲȦ ޺ 52

Intoxicating Moonlight 53


The Clear Well in Front of the Yard 55

Quatrains 58

ʴ Ա 58

νð 58

Ϳ 58


Unseen Breath 59

Setting Off After Leaving My Love 59

Over Ruined City Walls 59

At Evening, at Evening 59

Ǯ ξ 60

Ǫ 60


Ŵ ǽ 60

Pearling over Grass 61

Blue Fragrance Has Faded 61

Beside a Narrow Path 61

A Girl Tying Her Sash 61

׸ 62

Ҿ 62

ٰ ÷ 62


Longing for My Lover Who Cannot Come 63

Blowing Affectionately 63

Discarded for Having No Fragrance 63

When I Lie on a Hill 63

׸ 64


Ʈ 64

ٶ γ 64

I Yearn for a Nighttime Companion! 65

The Bright Recompense in Tears 65

I Thrust My Hand into an Empty Pocket 65

Reeds Trembling in the Breeze 65


ۿ ƽ 66

̸ Ʒ 66


Mudflats Brightly Bare Their Breasts 67

How Could Anyone Else Know 67

In the Lee of an Old Grave by Night 67

If Its Melody 67

ͷ 68


öο 68


A Valley for Her Playground 69

Love Is as Deep 69

On an Express Train 69

The Forests Fragrance Took My Breath Away 69


ư 70

̶̿ ӿ 70

ϸ β 70

¸ 70

That Girl Is Sorrowful 71

My Drifting Mind 71

Within the Word Hatred 71

I Feel Ashamed When I Remember the Days 71

Circling My Body 71

Poems 1938–1940 74

Ź 74

A Geomungo 75

߱ 76

A Gayageum 77

ȯ 78

A Ray of Light Brightly 79

1 80

Kite 1 81


May 83


Carrying Poison 85


Memorial 87


A Handful of Dust 89


A River 91

ѱ濡 92

Lying in the Middle of the Road 93

() 94

A Sudden Feeling 95

Ȫ 96

My Solitary Song 97


Chunhyang 99


A House 103

Poems 1946–1950 108


Drum 109

ٴٷ 110

Lets Go Down to the Sea 111

Ź 114

Twilight 115

ó 116

Execution Yard at Dawn 117


Despair 119

ܷ 122

The Nations New Year 123

2 124

Kite 2 125


Forgetfulness 127

Ҷ Ҹ 130

Days Uproar 131

815 132

August 15, 1945, Source of Inspiration 133

ħ 138

Morning in May 139


A March 141

Ǯ Ʒ 142

A Little Well Beneath a Bush 143


Digging in Frozen Ground 145

߾() 146

Memories of a Pondside Stroll 147

õ ö´ 148

Coming from Far Away 149


Any Day, Any Time 153


Maytime Regrets 155

Memories of my Father 157 by Harold Kim Hyeon-cheol 157



Professor Kim Seon-tae

Korean Department, Mokpo University

1. The Poets Life

The poet known today as Kim Yeong-nang (1903–1950) was originally given the name Kim Yun-sik, Yeong-nang being the pen name under which he published his work. He was born in Gangjin, South Jeolla Province. His father, Kim Jong-ho, was a wealthy landowner; the poet was the first-born of five sons and two daughters. In 1911, after studying for two years in a traditional Confucian school, young Kim Yun-sik entered Gangjin Primary School, graduating in 1915. In 1916, following the old Korean tradition of the region, he was married to Kim Eun-cho, who, two years his senior, died the following year. In February 1916, he went up to Seoul where he studied English at the Central Christian School before enrolling in March 1917 in Huimun-uisuk School (now known as Huimun High School). He was in his third year there when the Independence Movement began with nationwide demonstrations on March 1, 1919. Kim was arrested, along with many others, and spent some time in detention. Once released, he returned to his home in Gangjin, where he continued to be active in the Independence Movement and was again arrested. He was held in Daegu Prison for three months before being transferred to the police detention cells in Gangjin and Jangheung for another three months.

He gave up his studies at Huimun-uisuk School in the autumn of 1919. Crossing to Japan in September 1920, he completed secondary studies at Aoyama Gakuin in Tokyo. It was here that he first met Bak Yong-cheol (1904-1938), the poet and critic, who was a close source of support in later years. In the summer of 1921, Kim visited Gangjin and told his parents of his wish to study singing. Because his father was strongly opposed to this, he ended up enrolling in the English Department of Aoyama Gakuin, where he studied Western literature, becoming enthralled with such romantic poets as W.B. Yeats, Paul Verlaine, Keats and Shelley. He met radical Koreans in Japan, including the renowned anarchist Bak Yeol. On Septmber 1, 1923, the terrible Kanto earthquake devasted Tokyo, and in November Kim returned to his native land. In the course of 1924 he developed a relationship with Choi Seung-hui, a great beauty who later became a celebrated dancer,, but both families were opposed to their engagement, and in 1925 he married An Gui-ryeon (1906-1989), a teacher at Lucia Girls High School in Wonsan.

Early in 1930, Kim Yeong-nang was part of a group that included the poets Jeong Ji-yong, Byeon Yeong-ro, and Yi Ha-yun who, together with Bak Yong-cheol, decided that there was a need for a regular poetry review in which they could publish their work. On March 5, the review Simunhak (Poetry) was launched by the Simunhak Company, and the group became known as the Simunhak-pa. Kim began his career as a recognized poet with the publication in the review of the poem Dongbaekipei pitnanun maum (A heart reflected in camellia petals). In 1935, he combined the thirty-six poems he had published in the review and in Munhak (Literature) with seventeen unpublished poems to produce his first collection, Yeongnang Sichip (Yeongnangs poems). There were three periods in his life when Kim Yeong-nang wrote nothing. The first was from November 1931 until December 1933, the second from December 1935 until August 1938. The third, by far the longest, extended from September 1940 until November 1946. So during eleven of the twenty years after he began to publish, he wrote nothing.

The third period of silence, in particular, must be seen as a form of protest and resistance to the increasingly repressive, militaristic Japanese occupation of Korea. Kim Yeong-nang is celebrated in Korea for his refusal, almost unparalleled among writers, to submit to the demands of the Japanese authorities. All citizens were under intense pressure to offer regular worship at the Japanese Shintō shrines, and many who refused were imprisoned, even killed. Until the very end, Kim Yeong-nang never entered a shrine. During the war, especially, Koreans were told they must change their Korean names into Japanese ones as a sign of patriotism. Kim Yeong-nang not only refused for himself but would not allow his children to change their names, although the schools they were attending threatened to expell them if they did not. The Japanese obliged all male Koreans to have their hair cut very short, in convict style, but until the end of the war on August 15, 1945, Kim Yeong-nang wore his hair long. His resistance was equally clearly expressed in the traditional Korean clothes he proudly wore whenever he went out. He loved traditional Korean music, playing it himself, and often invited singers of pansori to perform in his house.

Although certain poets resisted Japan so actively that they were imprisoned and killed, extremely few writers were able to resist to such a degree as Kim, in part because of their need to earn a living. Kim Yeong-nang survived by gradually selling his familys land. His pride in Koreas poetic and cultural traditions was surely inspired by a strong awareness of belonging to an aristocratic family. The actively pro-Japanese attitudes of many writers and intellectuals stand in stark contrast to his quiet but firm refusal to submit; in later years some of these writers even tried to belittle his resistance in order to disguise their own shameful record. He went so far as to Page: 10
 challenge Japanese authority by writing an essay praising two great Koreans of the past, the poet Yun Seon-do and the great thinker Dasan Jeong Yak-yong in 1938, by which time the official Japanese position was that Korea had no cultural achievements worth celebrating. Kim Yeong-nang was a courageous writer who refused to deny or denigrate his nations past

As soon as Korea was liberated from Japan at the end of the war, new dangers and divisions appeared. Right- and left-wing sympathizers grew increasingly far apart, reflecting the division between the North under Soviet supervision and the South under the Americans. In addition to being the head of the then right-wing-leaning Korean Young Mens Association in Gangjin, Kim Yeong-nang was active in groups such as the Korean Independence Promotion Assembly, which was the origin of many social groups working for the new Korean government. As a result, he risked becoming the target of terrorist attacks emanating from the Communist Party. He continued to live in Gangjin until May 1948, when he stood as a candidate for the first Constitutional Assembly but failed to be elected; he then moved to Seoul and received a government position in the department responsible for publishing. He resigned after eight months, however, being too independent-minded to be able to establish good relations with his superiors. He approached the well-placed younger poet Seo Jeong-ju for help in having his second collection of poems published, asking him to write the epilogue. As a result, Yeongnang Siseon (Yeongnang, selected poems) was published in October 1949. 

When the North Koreans captured Seoul at the start of the Korean War in June 1950, Kim Yeong-nang and his family were unable to leave Seoul. During the months of Communist occupation he hid in the house of relatives, where his family later joined him. He thus avoided being kidnapped by the North Koreans. However, he died on September 29, 1950, after being hit by shrapnel during the bombardment of the city as the North Korean forces were withdrawing. He was only forty-seven. He left behind eighty-six poems and fifteen prose pieces. Later, the house where he and his family had lived in Gangjin was restored as a memorial, and visitors are often bewildered by the complete lack of personal relics there. The reason is that when his grieving family returned to the house in Seoul where they had been living until the start of the war, they found it completely ransacked and gutted. Not one of the poets books, papers, or personal belongings had survived.

2. The Poetry

If we consider Kim Yeong-nangs poetry written between 1930 and 1935 as the early poems, we might want to distinguish between poems tending to express a pessimistic world view and those evoking an ideal world. Poems expresing an affinity with nature or celebrating his home region can be considered to be idealizing, while the far more numerous melancholy poems represent what we might call a pessimistic direction. The two are united by the overriding pure lyricism common to all. The beautiful region around Gangjin has long been considered a pleasant area in which to live, and those poems which express a love of his home region are marked by a lyricism inspired by a close affinity with nature. The resilience of camellia leaves inspires a deep sense of wonder; the vigor of spring or the brightness of autumn awaken corresponding sentiments in the poet. Certain poems that depend strongly on the characteristics of the local dialect for their effect are indicative of an idealization of the poets home region. However, it seems important to go beyond the notions of idealization or the individual association with home and to see here images symbolizing a commitment to the value of Korea itself as nation. The same national reference can then also be found in retrospect in the poems indicating melancholy or resistance.

When it comes to the poems indicating a darker pessimism, again we are alert to the feelings inspired by the situation of Korea under Japanese colonial rule. On a more personal note, there is also the sorrow caused by the sudden loss of his first wife. The pessimism is another source of the melancholy tone found in so many poems, where we find repeated use of word like tears, death, or sorrow. The poem At the Tip of the Gangseondae Rock Pinacle is characteristic of this theme, being clearly something other than an evocation of an actual location; rather it turns much more toward despairing feelings of pointlessness and loss, if not indeed a desire for self-destruction in order to attain a transcendent world beyond this one.


The poems written between 1938 and 1940 constitute a second period in his writing. They are marked by stronger, more direct resistance to the Japanese occupation. The dominant themes expressed in many of these often very pessimistic poems are death and frustration. These were years when the Japanese military were exercising an increasingly harsh control over the country, while more and more Korean writers were expressing pro-Japanese sentiments. Perhaps as a result, Kim Yeong-nang turns from the preoccupation with his own inner world found in the early poems to a concern with the realities of the outside world.

In the poem Geomungo published in January 1938 we find the lines: Outside are wild lands where packs of wolves roam, / groups of apes gambol, only human in appearance. It seems fairly clear that this is an allegory for the Japanese and their Korean henchmen, while the kirin referred to in the poem, which is the name of a mythical animal that defends threatened purity, is less a silent musical instrument than the poets own heart, unable to find anything to sing joyfully about in such a situation. The poem Full of Poison, published in November that year, contains the strongest statement of resistance in its last line: Full of poison still, I will readily go, / to save my soul on the last day of my life. Finally, in Chunhyang, published in 1940, we find the supreme vision of national resistance. In the traditional story, the girl Chunhyang remains faithful to her absent love despite the threats and tortures of the wicked magistrate, convinced that the day will come when she will be vindicated and preferring death to surrender. The symbolic parallel with Koreas lost national identity is very clear, and Kim Yeong-nang seems to identify his own resistance with that of the courageous Chunhyang, though in a rather dramatically pessimistic manner.

When he started to write again in 1945, after the years of silence during the Pacific War, Korea had been liberated from Japan but was far from being at peace. In the years between 1945 and the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, there was constant turmoil as radically different regimes arose in the South and the North. At the same time, the struggle for power in the South between left and right resulted in massacres, guerrilla warfare, and fierce ideological confrontations while Syngman Rhee, supported by the United States, was establishing the Republic of Korea. Kim Yeong-nang wrote poems in support of the emerging nation, but he could not ignore the tragedy of the ideological conflict. As a result, his later poems often waver between hope and despair. The first poem written in this new situation was Drum, with its evocation of the lively, dynamic rhythms of traditional Korean drumming. Equally optimistic and future-oriented is the poem Lets Go Down to the Sea, with its enthusiastic evocation of the newly liberated Korean peoples freedom and potential as stars and jewels: We are unfettered souls, a liberated people, / eagerly embracing a myriad stars. It is important to note that many Korean poets have chosen this as his finest poem, rather than the purely lyrical Until Peonies Bloom, which has become his token poem through its inclusion in school textbooks. He was much more than simply a writer of disembodied lyric poems.

Himself forced to leave Gangjin after threats against his life and property, he soon found himself writing poems about the terrible fratricidal divisions between ideologies and parties that were tearing society apart. The community of writers was not spared, of course. The poems Execution Yard at Dawn and Despair give a clear indication of the poets profound anguish at what was happening. He is far from defending one side against the other; his great concern is that these terrible things are being done by brother to brother, and it is young people, the hope of the nation, who are killing one another as guerrillas, soldiers, and militiamen. The result is the dark sorrow expressed in Kite 2, in which the childhood loss of a kite previously evoked in his early poem Kite 1 becomes a symbol of the hope he had nourished in 1945, but has now lost. The loss is no longer personal but national: a flickering spark expires. / Ah! A life, and the country too, all fade far away. This feeling of despair turns into something approaching a death wish in the poem Forgetfulness, one of his most anguished and pessimistic works: for some reason nowadays I keep feeling that death is approaching. He is far from the romantic melancholy of certain early poems. This death is national, not personal, and indicates an almost prophetic awareness of the approaching outbreak of fratricidal war.

3. In Context

First, there can be no doubt as to the outstanding role of Kim Yeong-nang in the development of the pure lyric in twentieth-century Korean poetry. In recent years, scholars have stressed the significance of the group of poets to which he belonged at the start of his career, the Simunhak-pa. He was undoubtedly the leading poet of that group. The native Korean tradition of pure lyricism which they espoused can be traced back to Kim Sowol in the 1920s and continues with the emergence of Seo Jeong-ju in the later 1930s. It has become customary in Korea to characterize the lyrical tone of their poetry as feminine. They were especially attentive to poetic diction, seeking words with a particular sensual impact. For Kim Yeong-nang, influenced by Paul Verlaines De la musique avant toute chose (music above all) (Art poétique), musicality was one of the fundamental characteristics of the lyric, and it is the musical quality of his poems that has made him particularly influential in the history of modern Korean poetry.

Second, he may also be considered a leading poet in that by refining poetic language, the poet brings a national language to its perfection. With his innate feeling for language, Kim Yeong-nang selected and arranged words in such a way as to exploit to the full their delicate resonance and nuances, while showing outstanding skill in the use of dialect and rhythm. The manner in which he used traditional rhythms to express feelings of sorrow and longing was particularly well-adapted to the lyrical expression of such a dark age. His delicate sensitivity in using words is the result of his skill in blending objects and experiences into a single aesthetic impression.

Third, while Korea lay fettered under Japanese colonial rule, Kim Yeong-nang remained ever faithful to his role as a poet of national resistance. In this, his record is unparallelled. In 1919, still a high-school student, he was imprisoned for his leading role in the Gangjin Independence Movement. When the Japanese oppression was at its height, he alone in Gangjin refused to change his name or offer worship at the Shinto shrine. In addition, ever steadfast, he has the honor of being one of the very rare Korean writers who never wrote a single pro-Japanese line. More than that, he risked his life by expressing constant, intense anti-Japanese sentiments in poems such as Geomungo, Full of Poison, etc. As a result, he deserves to be celebrated, not simply as a great lyricist, but as a poet of heroic national resistance unequalled during the whole period of Japanese oppression.



Translators Note

The translations follow the order of the texts found in Kim Yeong-nang jeonjip, edited by Kim Hak-dong, Seoul 1993, Munhaksegyesa. This edition presents the poems in the chronological order of their composition / publication. However, the poems included in Yeongnang Siseon (Yeongnang, selected poems), published in October 1949, benefitted from the direct supervision of the poet, by then living in Seoul, and from the editorial suggestions made by the younger but already much-admired poet Midang Seo Jeong-ju. As a result, the poems already published in Yeongnang Sichip (Yeongnangs poems) in 1935 or elsewhere were sometimes revised, or at least given new titles. In the translations, the 1949 revisions have been accepted, and the variations from the original publication are noted at the end of each poem.

The poem Geumho-gang (Geumho River) is no longer attributed to Kim Yeong-nang and has been omitted. The poem Lying in he Middle of the Road was only recently included in the list of the poets works, having been wrongly attributed to another poet. While translating, various generally recognized misprints in the Korean originals have been silently corrected. The translations of certain poems owe much to the as yet unpublished research of Professor Kim Seon-tae of the Korean Department, Mokpo University, to whom I am deeply grateful. I am even more grateful to him for having consented to write the above Introduction.

My chief debt of gratitude must be to Kim Hyeon-Cheol, the poets son, who first asked me to undertake these translations, who has carefully read them, and who has suggested many corrections. I am equally grateful to Professor Lee Soong-Won of Seoul Womens University, who has just published a new edition of the original poems, and who has helped immensely in preparing the Korean text for this edition


Poems 1930–1935




1935 : ٿ 

An Endless River Flows

Somewhere in my heart, it seems, an endless river flows.

The dawn's rising glow brightens its smooth, silvery path.

In my breast, it seems, my eyes, my veins,

where my heart hides whispering,

somewhere in my heart, it seems, endlessly a river flows.

1935 title: A Heart Reflected in a Camellia Leaf.



ƽ Ǫ ϴ ٷٰ

ؾ 뷡

ϴ ƽϿ ʹ ƽϿ


̾ ƽ÷ø


ƽ ϴ Ʒ Ϳ ſ

As I Lay Stretched Out on a Hill

As I lay stretched out on a hill

staring absentmindedly at the blue sky far away,

I completely forgot tearful songs,

for that sky was so distant, too far away by far.

Though this hill might know my sorrows,

can there never be even a slight smile in my heart?

Beneath the far-away sky, a lovely heart, a merry heart,

and my eyes have closed, have closed.

- dz γ

dz γס

̴ ġٺ

dz γס


߼ ϸ Ѹ

ٶ ̾ ̸


dz γס

1935 : ƶ

Why, Autumn Colors Are Coming!

Why, autumn colors are coming!

Red persimmon leaves fly above the crocks in the yard;

my sister gazes up in seeming surprise:

Why, autumn colors are coming!

In a couple of days it will be the day for autumn ancestral rites;

wind often blows, I am worried;

heart of my sister, look at me.

Why, autumn colors are coming!

1935 title: Heart of My Sister, Look at Me.


к 

ߵ ſ °



ѹ ⵵ Ͽ°



״ Ⱦ


ض ׸ ׾ ׸

״ ̶ ̴

New Years Eve

On the last night of the year the candles melt away.

Are any stars falling, too heavy to endure?

Down every twilit valley, melancholy is rising, falling.

Is this New Years Eve so harsh?

With a dim paper lantern, a bashful demeanor,

painstakingly you draw up fresh water, pour it out.

Over the white bowl heaped with a whole years love,

you pray that this night be bright.

Note: This poem evokes the traditional way women used to pray over a bowl of freshly drawn water.




ܵ κ

̴ հ


Before a Desolate Grave

If I sit alone at the foot of a desolate grave

my heart is like the silent strings of a zither.

If I rub my face on the grass of the grave

my soul, like an incense-fragrant jeweled hand,

makes for the hills, makes for the hills;

yearning for a grave, it makes for the hills.


ٶ δ ãư

기 Ͻ ̽ñ

࿩ ࿩ ͸

 Ͻ ʹα



Թڴ ؾ

꺸 꺸 Ḹ

 ʹα

1935 :

Falling Snowflakes

I will come visiting as the wind blows.

Dearest one, you made promises as if possessed.

Maybe! Maybe! I long to hear that voice.

Calling me a fool for that would be too harsh.

My bodys numbed by sorrow, wind whistles through chinks in the door,

my breast is worn threadbare by falling snowflakes;

I never realized it was futile to seek a recompense, quite futile,

but telling me Im a fool for that would be too harsh

1935 title: Reproach.


ӻ̴ ޹

㿡 ӻ̴ ޹߰


Ϸ ϴ 췯 ʹ


ǽ β

巹 ޶ 帣

Ǻ ϴ ٶ󺸰 ʹ

1935 :

Sunlight Whispering on Stone Walls

Like sunlight whispering on stone walls, 


like spring-water smiling under grass,

today, on a lovely spring road my heart longs

to gaze quietly up at the sky, all day long.

Like shyness infusing a young womans cheeks,

like ripples gently caressing a poems breast,

I long to gaze up at the silken sky

as it flows thin, a soft emerald hue.

1935 title: Quietly on a Lonely Spring Road, My Heart.


帥 帥

̾ ׸

 Ƽ

A Springtime Heart Off to Fields in Dreams

Turning, turning round crooked stone walls,

the moon flows on, twilight flows on,

white shadows

pursue a trickle of silver threads,

a springtime heart sets off, sets off, off to fields in dreams.







밡 ̾


ῡ 帣

ã ̴

ö ̵



ƣ Űٸ


ɶ߰ ֲϰ ϱ

Faint Perfume

The faint perfume in my heart,

the perfume drifting anxiously,

the purple glow hanging over distant mountains

as the evening sun quietly sets,

Ah, that purple glow so full of sorrow,

the shadow of the heart I've lost,

the deep fragance of peonies that drop, drop after two days of passion

was bound to go, leaving this heart behind.

One day as I was gasping, seeking in vain

springs flowing heart I had lost in a flash,

a hot perfume came rising

like the tide spreading over mudflats.

Ah, the hot perfume spreads

but a shadow has fallen on my wavering heart,

so sorrowful, anxious, still,

an eventide purple glow that fades on mountainsides . . .


ϴð Ű



dz װ̶


Ű ã



ϴð Ŵ

1935 : ϴð

Dreams I Used to Have

Does joy dwell where the sky meets the earth,

where every dream I ever dreamed has been taken?

As I bid farewell to each quietly vanishing cloud

I know its pointless but that is the place my heart tends toward.

Swallowing tears, I seek for joy.

Then the heavens above are so infinitely blue.

I long to fall prostrate and write on the ground with my tears:

Joy dwells where the sky meets the earth.

1935 title: Where the Sky Meets the Earth.




ȥ ƽ

׷  ̸


 Ƽ

Ǫ δ ̽

߾ 帮


ƣ ׸

ȥ ƽ

޿ Ƶ ̴°



Ÿ⵵ Ͽø

Һ ̷

𸣸 ȥ

Someone Who Knows My Heart

If somewhere someone exists

who knows my heart,

who knows my solitary heart as I do,

the dust that sometimes clouds my heart,

and the pleading drops of guileless tears,

the rewards that gently form like dew in azure nights:

all these I would lay like hidden treasures before that person.

Ah, such yearning.

Can I see far off in my dreams

one who knows my solitary heart as I do?

In pure-scented jade, flames glow red;

I wish that love would kindle too,

but my heart, clouded like a smoking lamp,

knows no love, my solitary heart.

ó Ҹ

ٶ ־ Ҹ

ٶ ־

帧 帣ٰ

׸ ӹ 귯

㵵 ѹ

޿ Ҹ Ҽҳ


ῡ 鸮

Ӹ ı

Ȳ ҹݿ

׸ ̷ Ҹ


â Ʒ

The Sound of a Stream

Borne on the wind, the sound of a stream comes close then fades.

If only it would stop and linger, like the wind.

I wish the stream would flow, so I can feel it brimming full,

then stay a while like a painting, before flowing on again.

The night lingers, pitying the valleys solitude; the stream might stay here

as if stealing into someone's dream—even if there it is soundless.

Abruptly I hear it at dawn as I sleep,

washing round my heavy head

like jewels rolling on a golden tray!

Oh, sound I so long for, so full of fragrance, stay!

While you linger here, I long to ponder in my heart

the eternity of the Milky Way above.


ῡ ̾

ݾ ϴú

ȿ Ʋ Ӱ

ۿ ӽ


Ҳ ܵ ̷ܵδ

¦ β

ȥ 뷡 Ǿø

ӿ ӽ

Stung by a Look

Stung by someones look,

the sky is blushing bashfully;

the peach flowers inside the wall glow red,

while spring is mischievous outside.

Orioles go in twos, in twos,

even empty valleys blush,

at their confused songs white clouds rise high,

the dreams they contain are more mischievous still.


Ƿ ĥ

ƺ ٶ

õ δ ֱ⵵ Ϸø





ٴ 뷡

β 뷡 뷡

Borne on Tears

Borne on tears, seventy ri along mountain paths,

I look back; cold winds are striking the graves.

Seoul is a thousand ri away, that's far but

once borne on tears, a single step, a single step . . .

I long to rest my swollen feet on the floor of a boat,

to have moonlight dry my tears.

Songs go floating away over a quiet sea.

Ashamed of sorrow, singing, singing . . .

Note. seventy ri: 10 ri = 4 kilometers, 70 ri = 28 kilometers, 1,000 ri = 400 kilometers.

״ ȣɵ Ͻ ϴ

â Ÿ

״ Ż ¿


۾ Ѿư

dz ҷӱ


ħ ް

û ƶ


ٶ ġ

״ ȣɵ Ͻ ϴ

1935 ù ù; â Ÿ

You Are Worthy to Speak in a Commanding Tone

Are those white birds lapped by blue waves?

You remain calm and all is well.

Last nights sea storm that overwhelmed the village,

taking lives, to you is laughable.

Behold me, you green hills, that ship

is setting forth, sails raised high in the morning light.

The wind may be cold, the waves swell high,

you are worthy to speak in a commanding tone.

Line 1, 1935: You raised isles lapped by blue waves.


̴ ϴ


׷ ֳ





Lying Sick Alone, I Pray

Lying sick alone, I pray:

Please, let me depart like this.

I try to see if my praying heart is lying,

if I long to go on living;

surely, there is no cause for that?

One feeble, sluggish trickle of blood.

Oh! I shall depart very quietly

just like the dew.

Out there, gingko leaves are flying.




򳯿 Ѽ




ٱ 귯귯 Ǹ



õ  Ŷ

At the Sight of Water

At the sight of water, my heart flows;

at the sight of stars, my heart is clear.

How then can my heart grow old?

How pitiful and far away,

the days when I ceaselessly roamed,

uttering sighs on bright clear days.

Embraced in a regretful tear,

as a raindrop falls where scattered leaves pile high,

feelings limply, simply flow.

If I sit all alone on such a night

and lightly caress a haggard cheek,

withering, unblooming flowers quickly fall.

(˽) ٴ


ΰ ϳ


Ÿ ȣ پ





뷡 θ ä

ο ѱ

ô޸ ̶ ξ



һ ΰ

At the Tip of the Gangseondae Rock Pinacle

At the tip of the Gangseondae rock pinacle

stands someone insignificant,

someone who would have done far better

to have thrown himself down by now

into a burning lake.

How many years has it been?

Even if I encountered such ecstasy, I could never simply throw down this body.

Even if I saw such splendor, I could never sing.

Passing beyond after fighting soaking waves,

my heart felt so troubled that tears kept welling up.

Someone stands at the tip of the Gangseondae rock pinacle

who would have done far better to have thrown himself down by now.

Note: There are a number of beautiful rock formations with this name, which suggests that immortals once descended to enjoy their beauty. The poet may have been evoking the most celebrated one, in Myohyang-san, in what is now North Korea.

Ʋ dz(ͯ) 򸶷翡

簳 Ʋ dz 򸶷翡 ɾ

ô ٸ





ġ žƿ

ý 򸮿


ϳ ܷ



ű ̳

On an Old-style Twisted Dovetail Back-porch

I sit quietly on an old-style twisted dovetail back-porch

and wait for the moon that as yet gives no sign of rising,

without one thought,

without one wish.

Soon that persimmon tree's shadow

will move closer, inch by inch,

once a colored cushion has been laid

on the porch's floor.

Then I and my one lonely companion,

my slender shadow,

will find ourselves face to face without a word or a gesture.

I might even hear night's approaching footsteps.


ô Ͼ ޺

ѳ ̷ο ︮ ó Ҹ ְ Ͽ

() ̽ Ʈ

ƴ ϳ ȣ ǰ ֲ


õ ѱ Ŷ Ƶ̳ û ̻


ٴٿ ٴٷ 찰

̿ Ÿ ó


Ʊ ߵ ޸ Ѿ


䳢 罿 پ ݵ ׷ 糪


(֦) ŵ Ʈ ش

̷ ̸ û

ó ̴ Ķ ҿ ô϶



( ݰ 㹰 ð ִ)

1935 :


Bulji-am, Buddha-World Hermitage


The mountain spirits that filled the night

were all swept away by a burst of white moonlight,

the sound of the stream that echoed, making the daytime fair,

withdrew and grew faint.

Just as golden dew pearls and flows over the bright stones of the Strong Fragrance,

one dainty dream vanished in anguish from a nuns lonely heart.

Was it a prince of old Sillasent into exile a thousand years ago?

His complexion was that of a graceful lily on Mount Sumeru.

For sure a cute lad in white clothes taking a short cut in a hurry,

like starlight falling quietly from one sea to another,

abruptly appearing round a mountain spur then vanishing softly

following the stream down the valley ahead.

Filled with a regret she could not endure, the nun set off

in pursuit of her fading dream

but it proved endless and all she preserved was a glimpse in broad daylight,

a precious sign.

Even a rabbit or a deer seen speeding by

reminded her of the man she so cherished, who had gone away.

Was the nun's wish fulfilled at sunset one clear, cloudless day

when a royal sedan might well be on the move?

Alas, that good-looking young scholarthrew himself into the azure pond

where the water of the stream gathered.

(Poets Note: Bulji hermitage is a decaying temple in a secluded part of the Inner Diamond Mountains. There two young monks are caring for their master.)

1935 title: Bulji-am Lyric.

Note: The Strong Fragrance Falls are better known as Nine Dragon Falls.



ٸ ׿


μ ׿


ٸ õ

õ 뵵


׻ ش

鿹 ϳ ɳ


ٸ ׿




Until Peonies Bloom

Until peonies bloom

I just go on waiting for my spring to come.

On the days when peonies drop, drop their petals,

I finally languish in sorrow at the loss of spring.

One day in May, one sultry day

when the fallen petals have all withered away

and there is no trace of peonies in all the world,

my soaring fulfillment crumbles into irrepressible sorrow.

Once the peonies have finished blooming, my year is done;

for three hundred and sixty gloomy days I sadly lament.

Until peonies bloom

I just go on waiting

for a spring of glorious sorrow.



Ѱ Ŀ ģ

ʴ ʸ Ƿ ⷯ

õ Ӿ Ҵ

Ѱ ܵ

޺ ʹ ȲȦϿ

۱ õ ٴ ⸦ ̰

ϴð  ڱ

ض 濡

ϰ ״ 긮


ۺ״ ܿ ׸ ò

︮ 뷡

Ƴ ڶ Ҹ

޺ Ŵ

õ ĸ

ź õǴ

£ ƴ ׾

ձ  ӱ

Ȧ ô ʸ þ

ݵ(ͯ) ̴ ٴ尡 ;

õ Ҹ ߰


() ȣ ҷ

ƴ 

̸ Ǯ ʷϺ Ǯ ϰ

ٿ ʽ´ Ŵ޷ ƶ

Ÿ ǰŸ ޾

ƴ ϸ ! ̿



The Cuckoo

Little bird, weary of a lifetime in rancor and sorrow,

you cough blood after singing, then swallow it again;

you came to this world to delve deep into sorrow by blood,

your tears have endlessly clouded a myriad ages.

This southern region is secluded, you can hide in exile;

The moonlight is so dazzling, this desolate dawn,

your anguish startles fish a thousand leagues under the sea,

makes infant stars at the sky's edge shudder.

Tears pooling and pooling late at night for so many years

that I could never wash away, they simply pooled and flowed,

and I—sorrowful, lonesome, grieving—

finally grew weary of the wine-glass you kept filling,

songs from the beyond that echo near in this dawn full of fear,

death's boastful voice circling the foot of the city walls.

The moonlight, that pale lantern sobbing to win hearts, is going.

The long-since emaciated, gaunt heart likewise goes.

Since your anguish makes every red heart wither then bloom,

could Chunhyang avoid death in prison in highest spring?

In ancient times a child king set out from the palace,

wept all alone in a mountain valley, then followed you

and on the south coast opposite Gogeum Island, on a bitter homeward path

the sound of a galloping pony came to a halt, wearied

and a scholar's haggard face floated in blue waters

as your regret-filled voice conjured even death.

Without your song, this world is so sorrowful, so wracked;

early in spring as the groves become green, the grass is fragrant;

seeing the pitiful bright darkness as the crescent moon hangs

from slender bamboo leaves

you tremble, on the verge of tears, feeling pity;

if you did not sing, you would surely die,

oh, anguished spirit.

You call late at night when thick-clustered azalea flowers fall

and gently vague mountain ranges draw back,

little villages suddenly wake.

Note: The name of the bird evoked in this poem is usually translated cuckoo although nightingale might be more suitable as it is heard by night. Its plaintive song is said to be the lament of the spirit of a former ruler of Chinas Shu Han kingdom who died in exile and longs to return to his lost kingdom. Gogeum Island lies just off the coast close to Gangjin, the poets home. In times past it often served as a place of banishment for scholars exiled from Seoul for political reasons. Chunhyang is the heroine of a tale of faithful love; the scholar she loves has gone to Seoul to pursue his career but she promises to wait for him; a cruel magistrate has her imprisoned when she refuses to submit to his desire. In most versions, there is a happy ending but in another poem, Kim Yeong-Nang suggests that she died in prison.

1935 2nd line of the last section : the water is fragrant 


û (٥)

ȣ ȣ ȣ ħ

û ø ŴҸ

Ǯ ȣ ȣ

û Ӹ


ͷ ̿ ̶

Ǯ ְ


׸Ͽ ħ û

뷡 ȴ


Ǯ ڰ ֶ

̽ Ҵ

Ұŵ ֶ

û ָ

濡 ް ʾҴ


޹ ó ƿ

û ڱ

׶ ϰ

㿡 ϴ ѱ 帧 ߴ






1935 2: / .


Gulping, gulping, I drink down the autumn morning.

I walk along intoxicated, absorbing the brightness.

As I gulp down the bushes, gulp the insects,

the brightness penetrates my head, my heart,

then slips away through my feet and fingertips.

My skin's every hair is eye, mouth.

I can sense each bush's affection,

can sense each insect's wisdom.

With that I become this morning's

most unlovely serenader.

Bushes and insects are children waking from sleep;

there is still dew left, though they suckled all night.

Give me some too, since some remains.

I hunger after this brightness.

I have been in my room, door shut, breathing at the walls.

As the first ray of sunshine comes bursting through

the brightness suddenly puts on a kingly crown.

Just then, plop, a camellia seed falls.

Oh! Such splendor, such stillness.

Just like last night's flow of starlight expelled from the sky.

Sound preceding every sound,

origin of every hue,

warmly refreshed by this brightness, my heart

is just one blade of grass growing in a cool vale of feeling,

one grub spending a lifetime drenched in dew.

1935 the last two lines read: has found the familiar home of feeling, / has entered the house it will never leave again.

ȲȦ ޺

ȲȦ ޺

ٴٴ ()


̸ ϴ








Ƹٿ õ




޲ٴ ٴ

Intoxicating Moonlight

In the intoxicating moonlight

the sea is a sheet of silver;

heaven and earth lie so still

just like a dream.

The familiar moon

seems ready to come down if called,

it seems ready to give voice

to a pure, resonant song.

Suppose it came falling down

onto that sheet of silver?

Surely the moon

could not shatter there?

Fall then,

moon, fall away—

that confusion, that beautiful noise,

that shaking of heaven and earth,

in deep forlorn night

on the mountain top

could not waken

the lonely dreaming sea.













Ѹ θ



The Clear Well in Front of the Yard

I gaze into the clear well

in front of the yard.

Deep beneath the ground

there is a soul imprisoned.

It seems always to be looking down

at the distant sky.

I gaze into the clear well

where stars cluster thick.

Deep within that ground

there is a soul lying peacefully.

This evening its eyes are sparkling

like a call to its outward body.

That clear well

in front of the yard is my souls face.


ʴ Ա

ʴ Ա Ǹ


뽣 ⿩ ã



νð ֲ ̿

Ѽ ŷο ޱ̿

įį ðΰ

̽ ճ ġ


Ϳ ٶ


걹ȭ γ鼭

ֈ ӻ̴

ᶧ ᶧ ܷο

Ͽ ɾ ٴ

Ҿ ֽ ٶ̱


Unseen Breath

Like a fine thread of unseen breath

rising to the farthest ends of an azure sky,

life is like nothing so much as a needles point

in search of a bamboo groves hidden heart.

Setting Off After Leaving My Love

Sorrowful of heart, I set off after leaving my love,

down a fragile dream path that might vanish if once I sigh.

Whose dark village can this night be?

I mar with my fingertips tears that pool like dew

Over Ruined City Walls

Over ruined city walls the wind blows strong,

autumn only seems more desolate.

White-specked chrysanthemums flutter

as the autumn whispers, broken-hearted.

At Evening, at Evening

At evening, at evening, unable to master

my lonely heart, I go walking.

Someone is sending a wind

that robs me of tear after tear.

Ǯ ξ

Ǯ ξ ̽

翡 Ʒ

Ǯ Ⱑ ް



Ǫ ⹰ 귯

Ϸ δ

Ǻ ġ

ӻ Ѵ

氡 ϳ

̽ ̿ δ



Ŵ ǽ

㸮 Ŵ ǽ

ɰ ״

Pearling over Grass

I see dew pearling over grass,

I see tears speckling eyebrows.

Over the grass vitality rises like a dream

and my heart lies open in yearning.

Blue Fragrance Has Faded

On a hill from where summers blue fragrance has faded

my heart is a dayflys wings.

Lightly falling autumn rain-eyes shake those wings,

saying : listen to the whispering air.

Beside a Narrow Path

Beside a narrow path, one grave

stays awake all night long, soaked by dew.

Once I am dead Ill become a star,

a faint star, as I lie in the grave.

A Girl Tying Her Sash

As dim autumn settles on flowering branches

like the mind of a girl tying her sash,

haze wraps round my bright heart,

haze wraps round my bright heart




귯 ̸ ̷ø


Ҿ ٶ̱淡

ο Ǿ ¿

ϴð ġ ֵ ٶ

̸ Ѽ ƴ ֿ

ٰ ÷

⳻ ٰ ÷


ܷο õ

ö ߳



ƿ ̱

Longing for My Lover Who Cannot Come

Are the scattered petals telling me I should feel sad,

longing for my lover who cannot come?

Though spring came empty-handed, and now has gone,

as tears flowed, that lovers heart was drenched.

Blowing Affectionately

Lightly I sent forth a breath

like a wind blowing affectionately

but the roaming wind, after skimming the sky,

only brought me back a sigh.

Discarded for Having No Fragrance

If you are going to discard it for having no fragrance,

I beg you, do not pluck my life.

A lonely flower, withering along the edge of the fields,

should go on sleeping till trampled by rough feet.

When I Lie on a Hill

When I lie on a hill and gaze at the sea

I cannot count the shining ripples one by one.

Yet if I close my eyes, the face that comes to mind

is always the selfsame face, every time I see it.



ɾ ׸

׸ ο

ȥ ׸


ٸ ϰ

ܷ ٶ ϴ



Ʈ  ã

¸ 巷巷 ߳


Ҹ õ ܾ ;

ٶ γ

ٶ γ

£ ϴ

û ̿

I Yearn for a Nighttime Companion!

I yearn for a nighttime companion!

I yearn for a nighttime companion who walks without speaking.

Shadows cast by the waning moon so grieve my heart

alone on long nights that I yearn for a nighttime companion.

The Bright Recompense in Tears

The bright recompense in tears, the dark sorrow in laughter

are merely clouds drifting in an autumn sky.

Then as now my silent, lonesome heart gazed

at the icy stars caressed by the lonely wind.

I Thrust My Hand into an Empty Pocket

On days when I thrust my hand into an empty pocket in quest of Paul Verlaine

my whole body is sad and tears flow

but, ah, on days when rain falls on and on

I long to utter a thousand sorrowful words.

Reeds Trembling in the Breeze

Reeds trembling in the breeze,

reeds frolicking in rapids,

sorrowful gestures of my youthful days,

knowing, not knowing, sad tearful days.

Ǯ ݾ ̳


ǹ߷δ ڲ

ۿ ƽ

ۿ ƽ ǰų

ʱ ̶

Ʒ ֈ Ա


̸ Ʒ

̸ Ʒ ̰

̸ ϴ

ʸ Ͽ ܷ ҹ̲

ƹ ģ





Mudflats Brightly Bare Their Breasts

Mudflats brightly bare their breasts,

the sedges bashfully bow their heads.

In broad daylight one cheeky boat dares touch those breasts

while I shamelessly keep tickling them with my bare feet.

How Could Anyone Else Know

How could anyone else know

that flowing tears had soaked his collar?

In the bright starlight his anguished breath

was condensing, condensing as dew.

In the Lee of an Old Grave by Night

Bowing its head in the lee of an old grave by night,

looking up at the sky with a slight smile by day,

the wide fields being desolate, the pasqueflower is lonely

as the weary stars fade at dawn, unnoticed by anyone.

If Its Melody

If its melody should ever vanish completely,

the skylark will spit the jewel in its throat into the sea.

Then tomorrow, in clouds that rise and set with the sun,

it will return, bearing in its beak a new jewel from a new island.


ͷ Ŀ ǽ


ٶƴ ׸

ä 濡 ⵵ ϳ



ϴ ū ȭ


öο մԾ

ð ࿩

Ѱϰ ׸ ð

峪 ࿩


߳ ̾

ɾ ٴϴ

Ϸ ȼ

A Valley for Her Playground

A young girl who grew up with a valley for her playground

has a heart as pure as any jewel.

Yet here she is standing on a mountain path, a water pot balanced on her head.

Perhaps she is longing for a place she can see far away.

Love Is as Deep

Love is as deep as a blue sky,

its promises are light as a little white cloud.

I am not upset though the cloud disappears,

still I believe in the skys great harmony, yet . . .

On an Express Train

Passenger dozing on an express train,

you should not forget this rural station,

this station frequented by rural folk,

relaxed, homesick, so desolate.

The Forests Fragrance Took My Breath Away

The forests fragrance took my breath away

as gems shattered beneath my feet.

I walked across the fields following the moon

all night long, unsleeping through the summer.



ϴð ٶ



ư ĸ

̷ Ƹ


̶̿ ӿ

̶̿ ӿ

̶̿ ӿ ħ


Ǯ ġ 帣

ϸ β

ϸ β ̾

ū ϸ

ҵ̰ Ÿ

л̶ Ƿ β



ӿ ġ ֳ

Ҹ Ѹ Į ϳ


That Girl Is Sorrowful

That girl is mournful, her face, her eyes.

One little cloud goes past, blown by the wind in the autumn sky.

Pallid and forlorn, whither did it go?

That girl is mournful, the girl of bygone, bygone days.

My Drifting Mind

Eyes closed, I attempt to fathom the pale blue path

of my drifting mind. Is this a dream?

In my breast a bright light shines,

abolishing thought, pooling tears.

Within the Word Hatred

Within the word hatred, unwelcome pain,

within the word hatred, trivial repentance,

but when I keep chewing the word,

tears overflow.

I Feel Ashamed When I Remember the Days

I feel ashamed when I remember the days

when my heart used to be ablaze

with ideas of doing great deeds, like the Buddha or Jesus,

shameful days enveloped in student blood.

Circling My Body

The crimson blood vessels circling my body

are all united in my tightly shut eyes.

Could not one sharp word or one sharp sword

sever them at a single blow?


Poems 1938–1940


뼱 ä

ذ ٲµ

() Ѵ


⿬ ɾ

ܷ ⸰̾ ϸ ؾ


ٱ ģ ̸ ٴϰ

ٹ ܳ ٴϾ


ݰ 뼱 ä

ذ ٲŴ

㵵 ⸰ Ѵ

A Geomungo

While the year has changed twenty times

my kirin has stayed leaning against the black wall,

never able to sing.

The hand of the old man that once plucked at its heart

now occupies a lofty place in endless banquets above,

while you, lonely kirin, here below, how could you be forgotten?

Outside are wild lands where packs of wolves roam,

groups of apes gambol, only seemingly human,

so there is nowhere my kirin can lay its heart, rest its body.

Once more the year has changed,

and, still leaning against the wall, the door shut tight,

tonight again my kirin is unable to sing freely.

Note: The geomungo (here identified with the mythical kirin) is a six-stringed Korean instrument very similar to the gayageum, but the strings are plucked with a plectrum. It was an instrument favored by Korean scholars. The kirin is a mythical creature with hoofs and horns and the head of a chimera, found throughout East Asia. It can walk on grass yet not trample the blades, and it can also walk on water. It is normally gentle but becomes fierce if a pure person is threatened by someone wicked. The wolves and apes in the poem are images of the Japanese occupying Korea, and those Koreans who imitate them.



־ ״


ռ ڼ




A Gayageum



they fly calling, the geese.

Who sent you flying off

from beneath the bamboo groves

of the south?

Forward or backward,

no sign of disorder.

Slender strings,

your life is so full of suspense.

Note: The gayageum is a twelve-stringed instrument similar to the geomungo; the strings are plucked with the fingers. The struts supporting the strings are sometimes said to look like flying geese.



â ٸŰ

巹 

θ Ȧ


ȵ ϼ


״볪 Ȧ ξȾ ֿ


: ޸

A Ray of Light Brightly

Are you waiting for a ray of light

to rise bright beyond the east window?

The infant moon of the month's ninth day

has risen alone, unsummoned.

The moon is rising over the eastern hills.

Countrymen, welcome it!

You should speedily embrace

the hearts that follow without a sign.

Original title: Moon-Gazing.



ƽ ϴÿ

ٶ ̴ ǰ

 ƽǮϴ





ƽǾƽ 


ٶ Ͼ

ƺ θ


ħ ؿ


 Ͼ ԰

ܷ ڶ Ͼ

氡 ڿ

ڿ ̾

Kite 1

My childhood days!

Like a kite floating in the lofty sky,

like a kite-string jerking in the wind,

my childhood days! Far-away days.

So blue the sky, endless,

the kite-string taut;

oh! the white kite so high above,

frolicking in play, my childhood days!

One day the wind rose and snapped the string.

I wept, called out: Mama, Papa!

The scrap of grizzled string seemed sad

as, morning and evening, I wept beneath the tree.

Ah! Wearing the white clothes of my childhood days

I grew up in solitude, bearing a white soul,

nervous at red footprints along the roadside

with tears pooling in every footprint.



ٶ ѽ õ ̶ ̶

̶ ̶ ޺

㸮 β 巯

Ҳ ȥ ƺ 𸣳

̶ ѱ



ϰ ƾ ִ



On entering the village, field paths turn red

while the village alleys, descending to the fields, become green.

The wind billows in a thousand furrows, ten thousand,

sunlight shatters dazzlingly there.

The barley has developed a shamefully conspicuous girth.

At present no oriole is capable of flying alone,

the female is ever pursued,

the male ever pursuing.

The paths shine golden, ever more dizzying.

Lightly made-up, utterly coquettish

mountain peaks, where are you off to tonight?



׸ Ѵ

𸥴 ϰ


Ƶ ʾ

õ (ؿ) 밡 ڷ 귯

߿ 𷡾

㹫ѵ! ϴİ?


! ¾ ʰ

Ϸ簡 ־ 㹫ѵ!

յڷ ̸ ³ پ 븮

ä Ǿ ñ ż



ܷο ȥ Ͽ

Carrying Poison

My breast has long been full of poison,

newly drawn poison that so far has harmed nobody.

A friend tells me I should pour away that dreadful poison.

I threaten: that poison might suddenly harm even my friend.

Even if our lives are not full of poison, very soon you and I will have gone for good,

then a trillion generations will flow away in silence,

ultimately the earth will wear away to a grain of sand.

Such things are all vanity! Why be full of poison?

Ah! Was there one single day that I spent without resenting

having been born in this world? All vanity, I say.

Before and behind me, wolves, coyotes rush for my heart.

My destiny is to be eaten alive by beasts, to be torn apart,


Full of poison still, I will readily go,

to save my soul on the last day of my life.

̴ ܷο



ؾ ѿ


׷ Ʒ 츮

ܷӰ 翡 ô

() Ǵ Ǵ°


What can be the point of setting a stone

above the grave of someone who was so lonely in life?

Would fretful travelers bother even to sigh

at the sight of an old, dilapidated grave?

Still, set up a stone before the grave

of one who was every day lonely, till he died.

If you feel lonely, rest here beside me a while.

What if you carved on it some such bitter-sounding words?

ź ƴϷδ



dz Ȧ ϰ

帮 Ѵ




ü 뷡




ָ Ҹ





ƹ Ǵ±

A Handful of Dust

From the start my heart was not destined for composure.

It was harshly hacked and rent apart.

Landscapes never fascinate my eyes,

love cannot trouble my thoughts.

Weary, I live without resentment.

What could have become of my songs?

The most sacred things are just these tears.

To the end I could never enthrall my dissatisfied heart,

could never fill my hungry heart.

Nonetheless, my body fell ill.

Quickly, nail my coffin shut.

In any case, I am destined to become a handful of dust.

ڸ Ͼ



帣 ֲ ̾


޿ ̶ ;


ȥڼ Ŵϳ



öö 귯鼭

ƽ ޵ ư



ڲ ư

A River

Too sorrowful as I slept, I woke.

My dream was not sweet, so I opened my eyes.

The pillow was moist with icy tears;

they flowed fast, then one drop lingered, forlorn.

I longed to see the river I had glimpsed in my dream,

a river steaming as it flowed.

As I walked alone over the hill,

ducks and geese were calling.

The river flowed on, brimming full,

and fortunately it bore my dream away.

The sorrow I felt, in dream and waking,

the river took and bore it away.


ȴٸ ѱ濡 巯


(մ) ()ߴ


ⲯؾ 䱼 ãƵ


â ء 桯


⸦ Ѿ



㸶 ַ()


׷ ׷Ե Ű

ϳ ݰ ġ ʾ

 ڽ ȹٸ ׳


׶ Ѿٰ

񸶸 ü ޾Ҵ϶

Lying in the Middle of the Road

I am lying in the very middle of the road, arms and legs spreadeagled.

The clustered twinkling stars hang like bells.

Their splendor alone is eternal.

Why are people shaking me so annoyingly?

Do they want me back in my wine-strainer-like cave?

There is nowhere to write sun and road.

Their splendor alone is eternal.

I wonder if my prayer will last for centuries.

Time leaves feelings moth-eaten,

so why have you been pestering me about the way I drink every evening?

Right, all of you, are you so genteel?

Not a bit unhappy, nor the least bit resentful,

cant you set your kids down and do some straight talking?

In the old days, a gentleman unable to leap over twelve walls

is said to have been sent poison to drink in his thirst.


췷 Ҹ ׸


Կ Ϳ ±


40 ,

âڰ ©

 ҰŴ


ƹ ȴ ʹ ̸ ̴

Ƶ鵵 ȴ ʹ Դ

˸´ ڶ


ູ ã ε ȯѴ

ȥ ƴ϶± Ѱ ູ

óԲ Ķ δ ޷


Ǹ 췷 Ҹ ٰ

ǻƳ ʹٸ ڸ Ѿ ູ ִ

A Sudden Feeling

I yearn to pronounce one word in a resonant voice.

That one word just right for my mood!

After passing the lips, still it rings in my ears.

A full forty years old, I am glad I was born early.

I am glad I have experienced heartbreaking sorrow.

I myself have barely survived.

I dislike the way my father was born too early,

I dislike the way my son was born too late.

I am the right age, I grew up most sorrowfully.

Everyones crazy about finding happiness.

Not only for themselves alone, they say,

but, beyond all limits, even others happiness too!

Go offer that to Buddha! Comfort your sick wife.

When spring comes, I cower as resonant voices seem to arise here and there; then I have a feeling that I am simply alive again, while my home is full of sorrowful happiness.


״ Ȫ 뷡 DZ

ǰ ״װŸ


״ ״ Ҹ DZ

Ȱ ڿ Ǫ


״ ̴ 뷡 DZ

̴ ⷷŸ


Ҹ ö ȴٸ

ȣ Ҹ ٰ Ҹ


 ޹

Dz ֹ


: ȣ 뷡

My Solitary Song

Would you care to hear my solitary song?

Flowers are in full bloom, bees buzz in clusters.

Would you care to hear my shadowless song?

Fog has thickly covered all the green valley.

Would you care to hear my lifeless song?

Spring waves ripple for no reason.

My voice is a naked springtime,

a solitary voice, a bitter voice along the way.

On misty nights, plucking a crimson camellia,

I crush it as if it were a seed of my heart.

Original title: Solitary Song.

ūĮ ̴

׸ ߴ 

μ ǹ


״ л() س

¿Ͽ ˾Ҿ϶






ܷ ȥ Ҹ Դ

 Ⱦ





׸ ϴ


󱼿 ĵ

 ŭ ִ ô



ϰ ۵ ڸ 𸶵

Ÿ ȴ

â쿡 ġ

ô Ҹ ƴ ȴ

ٰ ״ (Ө)ϴ

ΰ ΰ



ܿ ٶ

ĥ â ġµ



û () ȥ Ұ ȴ




ϰ ٶ ʹ ô

ױ ̴ּ ұ

Ӹ ͽ

ν ڶ

츮 ؼ Ǿ.

Ʋ ô ߴ϶




ٽ  ߾ ΰ Ǹ

ô ٽ ƾ Ǯ Ƴ

¸ Ǫ Ƶ ȴ Ǯ


(ܦʴ) Ͽ ׿.





Chunhyang was amazed at her own tenacity

as she was taken to prison with a great cangue round her neck.

Those proud eyes that glared at the magistrate,

her teeth clenched, come what may!

She recalled the great scholar Bak Peng-nyeon of ancient times,

his unshaken calm despite torture by red-hot irons.

Ah, such singleness of heart!

With a heart so chagrined and resolute, how could she  dream?

So fearful that first long night in prison must have seemed!

When she collapsed, overcome with sorrow,

the solitary soul from the Nam River came at her bidding,

Nongae! She embraced tightly youthful Chunhyang,

consoling her in body and soul all the night long.

Ah, such singleness of heart!

Such love!

Such devotion!

Should lovely Chunhyang die in prison on their account?

When she was about to faint at the hideous face

of that slimy centipede Pyeon Hakdo,

came the memory of her young master, preserved in her heart.

Ah, such singleness of heart!

As she rubbed every wound and bruise,

tears fell, refreshing her anguished heart,

but even on days when willow leaves stroked her window

no sound could be heard of her love's horse-bells.

Staying awake till late at night, she grew heartbroken.

The cuckoo sobbed, the cuckoo sobbed, all Namwon woke.


Ah, such singleness of heart!

As a storm raged wild one winter's night

beating at the blood-smeared prison bars

while the ghosts of those who had died in prison screamed,

faithful Chunhyang lost her senses, fell to the floor.

She lay in a faint all through the night

then awoke as the sun was rising.

Ah, such singleness of heart!

The young master she trusted, hoped for, ardently longed to see,

arrived before she died. Chunhyang was saved.

At the sight of phantom-faced Chunhyang

Yi Doryeong laughed bitterly. He was proud of her devotion:

Our family was ruined, I became a beggar, he lied.

Chunhyang did not blame her faithful love at all.

Ah, such singleness of heart!

Wretched Chunhyang collapsed again early the next day

and never woke again. The cuckoo called in vain.

She had seen her love, so no bitterness remained

but she believed there was no hope that she could be saved,

so her body lost all its vital powers.

After revealing his identity, the secret inspector weeps, holding Chunhyang's body.

Crueler even than wicked Pyeon, I have killed Chunhyang.

Ah, such singleness of heart!

Note: In the well-known tale of Chunhyang, the young aristocrat Yi Doryeong falls in love with Chunhyang, daughter of a gisaeng (female entertainer) living in the town of Namwon. After he leaves for Seoul to take the exam that will qualify him for administrative service, a new magistrate, Pyeon Hakdo, arrives and demands that she submit to him. When she refuses, he has her imprisoned and tortured but she remains faithful though sentenced to death. At last, her love returns as a secret royal inspector, disguised as a beggar. He reveals his identity, Chunhyang is released and the wicked magistrate is punished. In most versions, the lovers live happily for many years. Nongae was a gisaeng who is celebrated for having sacrificed her life to protect Korea during the sixteenth-century Japanese invasion. She is said to have embraced a Japanese general, then dragged him with her over a cliff into a river in Jinju. 





̵ ӻ ()Ͷ




ƹ Ӿ

Ƶ ᵵ 츮

ƴ ̴ ()°





ǰ Ȱܵ

° ٶ ű Ҵ϶



ؿ ظ


ۿ ٻ

߸ ãƿ


ն 쳻


ѵ µ

ξ β

ľƶ ϴó ƽǮϴ

A House

This is not my house,

it's your house.

Quickly come flying back.

The railings round the eaves

are well acquainted with your pitiful whisperings.

This is not my house,

it's your house.

Long after your father left,

you keep on weeping, you might wake your sons and grandchildren.

You keep on weeping, generations later, through the crack of the door.

This is not my house,

it's your house.

Lightly flying gingko leaves

nestle in the corner of the porch as on a breast.

The clear wind has been living there since ancient times.

Ah! Yet this is my house too!

For ten years, twenty years

I have simply sat down, laid down in it.

If a busy visitor knocks at the door

he is visiting only because he has lost his way.

The railings thick with ancient hands dirt and bodies smell

embrace me often, empty now.

A few white clouds disappear beyond distant hills,

a few botched, shameful deeds

linger on, faint as the blue sky.


Poems 1946–1950

ڳ Ҹϰ


߸ ߸



̷ ¾Ƽ ̷ ̶

λ () ġ ʾ ÿ



̵ ۿ


ģٴ ڶ




޴ (٣)ε ܰ

ã ()̿ Ҷ ӿ ־

λ ;


ڳ Ҹϰ ġ

1 : ġ


Sing and I will take up my drum.

Using all the rhythms our music offers, slow at first,

then ever faster, I'll beat my drum.

Attaining in this way unity of breathing

is rare in life; it is difficult, exhilarating.

Detached from your singing, my drum is mere leather.

If the beat goes wrong, even the best singer's breathing has to change.

It is not enough to say it beats out rhythms;

more than an accompaniment that supports the singer,

the drum serves rather as conductor.

I am a famous beating drum. Forget all about the little song.

Tack-boom. Quietness in motion, thats me, since there is silence in the midst of uproar,

human life matures like an autumn harvest.

Sing and I will beat my drum.

Original first line: beat.



ٴٷ ū ٴٷ

츮 ū ϴð ٴٸ

ϴ ٴٿ ٴٰ ϴ̶

ٴ ϴ

Ǵ ׸Ͽ ġ