Nine poems by 3 Korean poets, all published in 2006 1.

이병률 Yi Byeong-Ryul
Translator: Brother Anthony of Taizé

A Sealed Map
In times when the earth and the moon were much closer together than now and the moon looked bigger in times when one year lasted eight hundred days and one day was eleven hours long, you went dragging the animals you’d caught in your snares, there was a day when snow fell intent on obliterating the path you had made and all things under heaven froze. As the ice melted again, the world briefly grew sad, then that nameless night froze again, just like the river, and once the people on the far side of that frozen night, seeming anxious, gathering by the riverside, lit fires, the people on this side of the night lit fires too, anxious for those on the other side. Taking thought for one another that dark night you finally cut off a finger. In times when the earth and the moon were much closer and the moon looked bigger, in times when one year lasted five hundred days and one day was sixteen hours long you came to take me away. Seeming disinclined to reveal the promise you made to God, you said: no one survives such seasons now, so let’s return to wrinkled faces aged 120, 90, 82 years old. However, the promise I have to keep means advancing toward that dark, silent vanishing point. Until the earth and the moon have moved far apart and the moon looks small. Until one year lasts three hundred and sixty five days and one day is twenty-four hours long.

History of Love
A road curves to the left; the wall beside it is deeply scored with numerous gashes. A couple of places, gashed deeply many times, are really dark. They’re signs of insignificant efforts, striking weakly then returning with hearts vexed.

At first sunlight appeared but then eyes’ light would also appear. so as I try to grasp my wife who struggles to escape. feelings would appear. otherwise. a thousand. that nothing seems capable of replacing. not yet ended splendidly. devouring that wind as I look back. then commits them to the flames. Saying it’s the sound of a far-away train won’t do. sighed At that moment might the word man have arisen? That remote long-ago today At the place where that word man went soaring aloft might a sorrowful blunt icicle been attached? It’s a breast kneaded with sorrow. I can grasp the inner and outer aspects of the word woman but the word man. a hundred. surely. making the blood circulate in my tree and branches. pinched then hardening. and saying it’s the smell of rain will do even less. then pinched again before hardening enough. the breast would appear. it could never be so out-of breath. is what has made the millennia flow heedlessly past before you. like the wind. My mind’s bone cracked and even the ceiling was tattered but suddenly my heart went racing as at first and abruptly the nape of my neck gave off a summer smell.I lived behind that wall. The Wind’s Private Life Autumn is cold. water too is cold. That wind has not yet. turning one man into two. I lived believing it would be brief and I lived believing it would last long. . that had been wandering here and there in a circular cruel room slowly nibbling leaves. ten men into twenty. The moment my shadow. is sorrowful and cold. The wind’s habit. like a bow. it seems hot blood will well from my hands. When I finally realized that I can do nothing about things happening behind my back.

in the gap between the start and end of that moment. or maybe an infant stillness destined to belong to a time that has not yet come. one evening of the universe finally fades into night. while within the spring sunlight of that listless stillness I wearily long to fall asleep for a century or two. visible yet not visible. butterflies or bees. or three months and ten days at least. got a woman and set up house but the only things left are stale sweat and a nightmare road. insects with nothing much to brag of. I earned a living. is shallowly buried.2. Between this side and the other side of that trembling. as if in a dream. a stillness of infinitely ancient former times. Sleeping on the Street Removing your clothes like old newsprint I lay you down raw on a damp mattress and look down on you. I’m sorry. . Because of the solitary trembling of one moment in the life of those slender things. Your gnarled hands and feet have lost their vigor How weary the skinny limbs and ribs look. I think I shall recognize a familiar smell borne on those tiny creatures’ feelers or wings or infant legs as your gaze that grew so deep in some other lifetime. at that. bearing the name of three months or ten days. Using you. 김사인 Kim Sa-In Translator: Brother Anthony of Taizé The Depth of a Landscape In gusting wind short-stemmed plants shudder and tremble yet no one pays attention. Then beside my infinity. may heedlessly go brushing past.

butterfly? Before it. Under here was the black rock where the catfish would hide. accumulating on jaw and front? Bearing on its back a midday no one takes care of. What about it. body? Butterfly An approaching butterfly— what can that be on its back? I don’t know. there were days when I felt like silently kneeling down. . Now I’m wondering if I would like to go away quietly. simply leaving you sleeping here. as it goes. Occasionally a cracking sound as if it is splitting as love grows deeper.Again I laid the pure thing you are in a secluded corner of unfamiliar ground. yet the way to paying even a meager wage for your labors is far away. a blinding solitude. 3. a scrap of declining midday’s lonely shadows in one corner of an empty house’s yard? Could it be the weeping of a child left alone dribbling out the rice and kimchi soup it’s eaten? Could it be a weeping like layers of dirt emerging. Here is where the water-lilies were. Alas! I’m not saying there were no good days. How far are you going. 장석남 Jang Seok-Nam Translator: Brother Anthony of Taizé Winter Pond I walk across a frozen pond.

there being as yet no sign. sitting on this rock. They too show no sign of having watched the reflection of something before this. going out with icy shoulders I once again squat before the plum-tree stump. that all summer long I saw reflected. have frozen like the irises. As the sound of evening bells comes close at dusk. icily all remain silent. loud steps treading on the pond. Plum-blossom painting was a favorite pastime of people long ago. after bending it again. so suppose I wash my face. and addresses me anxiously. rocks come. come . saying: “This is where I used to be. back in my room after adjusting my icy shadow. feet. three buds.” Hanging Plum-Blossom After examining the stump of the plum-tree outside the gate buried years ago. five fully blooming flowers. on the branches appearing on that part four buds now spread. sit down and greet the old days? On branches extending hesitantly to the left. at least. My shoulders. and someone’s eyes come too. After full consideration. . so on which of them do I wish I was now? The love in retrospect and the void in anticipation are crystal clear. I Turn off the Light . five.” “This is where that star used to come. darkness comes. .All the irises are bent over. Although the fourteenth-day moon comes in its course. knees. uh uh. I unrolled and hung up on the eastward wall a painting of pink plum-blossom by Master Ko-San. Suppose someone comes along.

when I turned off the light nothing could be seen. And then. after that.When I turned off the light everything revived with open eyes. I was really afraid. finally turning on the light again. I shut my eyes. When I turn off the light everything seems just like a pond. embracing in my arms the air as it slips away. As I grew up. Smiles may rise. that’s good. tears may suddenly emerge. that’s good. forty or fifty. . all at once I’m already thirty. like wild rose petals falling I feel my pulse.

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