Poems by Yoo Anjin

Seed Leaves

I watch a dynasty quietly opening its doors.
Ah, that baby kingdom, raised up by two lovers!

Every life is an epic full of glory and tragedy,
and a pair of seed leaves is recording the opening chapter.

Preceded by a blissful dance by spring haze,
every karmic relationship is budding afresh . . . .



Time, reputed to fly faster than any arrow,
you, young bird with crimson beak,

As the elders of old used to teach,
we must lean more on each other’s weak wings.

Building a tiny nest on a lofty elm branch
halfway to the sky,

Let’s live dancing, even if there’s no more music;
let’s live laughing, even if there are no more sunbeams.


A Flowering Reed

A trickle of river-water
that my youth prepared
all through last summer

Ah, rising,
still waving,
on the hill above parting’s river,

those hands,
your pale hands,
reeds are blooming.


A Bush Warbler

One spring day, until
the sun has fully set,
somewhere a sound of someone whistling.

The mournful old melody of the third verse of the National Anthem . . .

That bird is the reincarnation of a patriot
who died young, unmarried, a student
who fell, pierced by a Japanese policeman’s sword,
some family’s only son for three generations

A childish voice,


A Flower

Wherever you are, I am shining there.

The person lighting a lamp in your depths
where heavy, rusting padlocks hang,
this pain of mine
penetrating your hidden tears
bearing completely your sorrows.

Flying through the heart, along the byways of the heart, a singing skylark,
with this joy of mine smoothing the feathers of its beating wings
like dew on grass shimmering in light from the sky

Wherever you are, my tears are sparkling there.



When this flesh, that once veiled
and hid my body, has been burned with fire,
the name alone will remain.

I could not shout aloud and call
your name alone, covered in knots,
and could not calm myself, either.

It will remain, ah, like the relic
ah, of some great monk,
like a black pearl buried deep inside an oyster’s flesh.
Once I am dead.

Note: The Korean title is ‘Sari.’ Koreans often venerate Sari / Sarira, the pearl-like relics found after the cremation of some revered monk.



Now love, too, must change into memories.
Dry grass smells sweeter than fragrant flowers
and I should long to walk alone along paths where we walked together.

Eyes closed, talking in silence,
I should long to gently visualize

Waiting for the darkness to soak into the ground
I really should long to light a lamp

When those standing have to sit down,
when sitting down they long to bury their faces in their hands,
open wide your ears alone like caverns