Born in Uiseong, North Gyeongsang Province, in 1947, Lee Tae-su graduated from the Philosophy Department of Yeongnam University.He made his literary debut in 1974 through the recommendation and publication of poems in Hyo¢¨ndae Munhak. He has published seven volumes of poetry: Keurimjauikeuneul(The Shade of a Shadow, 1979), Uulhan bisanguikkum(The Gloomy Dream of a Flight, 1982), Mulsokui purunbang(A Blue Room in Water, 1986), Anboineun neoui sonbadagwie(On Your Invisible Palm, 1990), Kkumsogui sadakdari(The Ladder in Dream, 1993), Geuui jibeun dunggeulda(His House Is Round, 1995), Andongsipyeon(Andong Poems, 1997).
He received the Taegu City Cultural Award in 1986 and the Dongso Literary Award in 1996. He started to work for Maeil Sinmun in Daegu in 1973 and currently serves as vice editor-in-chief. He is also at present the president of Daegu Poets' Association and the chairman of the Geumbok Cultural Foundation.
His poems are essentially quests for an ideal state of being.They are marked by the unwavering pursuit of a transcendental and abstract world beyond here and now. In his early poems such pursuit is rendered through dreams and dreaming. The world of dream represents a space of innocence and transparency where the self, which has been wounded and lost in the brutality of reality, is restored.
In later poems, coming after the frustration with his inability to reach the transcendental world through the imaginative space of dream, he steps out of the world of dream and starts his quest again for a being, "Him," who exists between a god and a human being and who is very near the other world. Particularly the poems in his fifth and sixth volumes, The Ladder in Dream and His House Is Round, are preoccupied by the intellectual and intuitive quest for "Him." Roundness, the word and the image around which poems revolve, symbolizes the perfectness and innocence of "Him," the state of being the poet persistantly and ultimately tries to reach.
His House Is Round
His house is round. Between the sky and the earth,
His house, its rooms are all round.
The sharp-edged house of mine, in its square room,
As I close my eyes with longing for Him,
I see a deep black river flowing
between me as I am and me I wish to be.
The river never to be crossed
with a sharp-edged mind.
Somewhere between a god and a man, peacefully He wakes up,
while I, a hamster on a dusty wheel, open a gloomy day. His house,
I feel from far away, is round. Between the sky and the earth,
His house, its rooms are all round.
A House in My Mind
I build a house. All night long
pushing the sleep up to the ceiling
I build a humble mud-hut
on a low hill, in a quiet forest in my mind.
The green shade of green pine trees,
where I would have my heavy heart consoled.
I make pillars and rafters with the trees which
used to make the shade and I build a house with
a round roof. I mix the moonlight and starlight,
a few strands of the cool wind,
chirpings of birds and insects in the grass,
and I make walls, ceilings, and floors.
On a low hill, in a quiet forest in my mind,
is a humble mud-hut set.
I gently embrace the house in my mind, which
would be awake like dew on the leaves of grass.
Looking at the Morning Dew
Looking at the morning dew on the leaves of grass
I hang my heart on them.
Although the world is still chaotic,
I wish to keep my heart like the transparent dew,
like the clear and round dew on the leaves of grass.
The round morning sun arises.
I clean my glasses, tie my shoelaces,
and leave home. The road always runs ahead of me.
I sometimes get lost and just
manage to walk with heavy footprints.
The wind, soft and strong, warm and gentle,
blows. I wish to be
such wind. Looking over the river
I turn my eyes to the unfathomable depth of the turquoise sky
at which the soaring birds are pecking.
I wish to shape my heart clear and round.
Embracing the morning sun,
I wish to leave footprints different from yesterday's.
Softly and gently, with the heart dreaming
of the turquoise sky and its unfathomable depth,
I wish to be the ever round dew.
About Something, or Water
As the air embraces the universe
something is holding me up.
As the heavy earth is hung in the air
I am hung on something unknown.
The air is gentle, something is formless
but firmly it embraces me.
As the universe lies in the formless air
I lie inside of something invisible.
As the empty air lifts the earth
something makes me sit or stand.
Something is invisible and the air is empty.
I am taken into something deeply and painfully..
As water eventually wears down iron, as water drops
constantly fall to pierce stones, I will become water
and water drops to pierce stones and melt away iron.
As something low and gentle and empty
fills the mind, the air, which is empty,
yet filled with something,
shakes me to open my eyes, and makes me stand up.
Then I see the world far away. The pathetic world
makes me walk and walk.
I will become water drops and water,
and I will melt away iron and pierce stones, slowly, for a long time
gently, lowly, being emptied and emptied again
In the Morning, on a Toy Plane
I wind myself up a bit, oil
my squeaking mind and soles
and tie my shoelaces. In the yard
fingers of grass are sticking through the cracks
in the cemented surface, a few dew drops on their leaves.
Dogs are running around. The toy plane of my son
is just about to start its propeller.
Someone's whistle stands at the end of the hair
of dogs running into the sunlight,
the sun beams are sliding over
On the backs and shoulders of
the strange children in the street,
the buckles of their sachels shine in the sun.
The swallows are flying low enough to kick the water.
This morning, I wish to soar
as if nothing had happened,
kicking off the mist still hung around,
taking off the hang over and the dark coat of the last night's dream.
Putting out the first cigarette,
on the toy plane of my son,
I embrace some grass raising its forehead
through the cracks of the cemented surface
and the dew on the leaves of the grass.
Dad, are you crying?Why are you crying, Dad......