Author Archives: geul

~

 

 

 

I wake up in the middle of the night

and a light goes out in the already dark

a black wing passes over my heart

*

lives half-lived all sit up

the wave coming for me rises up

rolls over me an ocean of dread

*

the stillbirths toss and turn and

sink down to the bottomless bottom

I find myself in the land of no succor

 

 

 


.

 

 

words like the cooing of

doves

in dry lands

the sound of rain

steady and slow

the green of a new leaf

blossoming in spring

a faded moon hanging there

reliably

a grasshopper’s sudden leap

 

 

 


My Bohemian Life by Arthur Rimbaud

translated from the French by geul

 

I took off – hands in my busted pockets

My coat was also just so

I walked under the sky, Muse! And I was yours

Ahhhh! Of what wondrous loves I dreamt!

****

My only pair of pants had a huge hole

– Dreamy Hop-O-My-Thumb, I dropped rhymes

along the way. I lodged at the Big Dipper

–My stars in the sky rustled sweetly

****

And I listened to them, seated by the roadside

These lovely September evenings when I felt the drops

Of dew on my forehead, like invigorating wine

****

Rhyming in the fantastic shadows,

Like lyres, I pulled on the bows

of my wounded shoes, one foot next to my heart!

 

 

poem in French


There is a white wall by Baek Seok

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

This evening, on the white wall of this small and narrow room

for some reason, only melancholy things come and go.

On this white wall

a dim 15-candle bulb throws off a tired light,

a grimey threadbare shirt rests its dark shadow,

and my various and sundry lonely thoughts wander about thinking how I would like some sweet hot gamju*.

But what’s this?

On this white wall

is my poor old mother.

My poor old mother,

though it’s such a bluishly-bobbing cold day, has her hands in the icy water washing radishes and cabbages.

The person I love is also there.

The beautiful person that I love

has made cod fish soup and is sitting down to dinner across from her husband, in a squat house down south by a river.

Already a mother, she is eating dinner with the youngster by her side.

And again before you know it

on this white wall

looking at my melancholy face

the following words go by:

– I was born to live a poor, lonely, high, and melancholy life in this world.

And living in this world

my heart is too full of the passionate, the solitary and too full of love and sadness.

And this time as if to console me, as if in solidarity, signaling with the eyes, the fist, these words go past:

– When Heaven created the world, what it loved and cherished the most were all made to live a

poor, lonely, high, melancholy life and always in the midst of overflowing love and sadness.

Like the crescent moon, the gourd flower, the crow tit, and the donkey

and also like Francis Jamme, Tao Yuanming and Rainer Maria Rilke.

 

*gamju (감주) fermented drink made from rice

poem in Korean

 

 


Postcard, Postcard by Kim Kyeong-mi

translated from the Korean by geul

 

Was it just twice? And that was together with other people
And that was just having a meal together
And that was a year maybe two years ago?
Does he even know my name? Since that was all, it’s the same as not knowing me, right?
Still when I feel melancholy and no one’s around
For some reason I think of it without meaning to
For example, when I see a nice picture postcard under this kind of foreign sky
I write to this person who likely has less interest in me than a postage stamp
because I’m comfortably far away and what’s more without the anxiety of being hurt
as if I were his lover as if he missed me
Dear, you will in the end never know you are being loved in this way
because I will write a few words and then tear it up in my heart
and throw it away in that river that I’ve seen for the first time
Poor dear, you’re probably chewing your dinner without even knowing you’ve been abandoned
When I’m also eating alone and get lonely I think
could there also be someone who secretly thinks about me
I mean could I maybe be happy like that without my knowing it…?

 

 

poem in Korean


Thank you, for a certain time in that life by Heo Su-kyeong

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

That time, I ask. Why were you so cold to me​?

Then you will ask me. That time, why were you so hot towards me?

When we were hot or cold, met or missed each other, were holding each other or idling together, that time,

When our hearts, for example, like deer would circle the plain of the wide universe to return to each other,

When we were hot or cold, hated each other or loved each other, that time,

I am thankful to just have been born and were able to feel a certain time

 

 

poem in Korean


Poem Easily Written by Yun Dong-ju

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Outside the window the night rain whispers
this 6-tatami* room is somebody else’s country,

 

Even though I know
being a poet is a sad fate
shall I try writing a line of poetry? ​

 

On receiving from home the envelope with money for school,
which gives off a scent of sweat and love

 

I go to listen to the old professor’s lecture
with college notebook under my arm.

 

If I think about it, having lost one, two –
all my friends from childhood

 

Am I simply precipitating to the bottom alone,
hoping for what?

 

They say living life is hard –
poetry written this easily
is a shameful thing.

 

This 6-tatami room is somebody else’s country,
the night rain whispers outside the window,

 

I light a lamp to push out the darkness a little, and
the last Me,
waiting for morning to arrive, like an era.

 

I, extending a small hand to myself
with tears and consolation,
grasping the first handshake.

 

 

poem in Korean

*The poet, Yun Dong-ju, wrote the poem while studying abroad in Japan during the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea. A 6-tatami mat room is about 100 square feet or 9 square meters.


Song: Wings (날개) by Mot (못)

Listen to the song here

translated from the Korean by geul

 

Though we knew we’d fall
we flew still higher
the world we saw for the first time was so beautiful and sad

 

Though we knew we’d break
we flew still higher
the days we spent together were sad because we were so happy

 

In the cold wind we hid our wounded wing
without any promises or vows
we only hoped time would stop

 

[instrumental interlude]

 

Though we knew we’d break
we flew still higher
the days we spent together were sad because we were so happy

 

We leaned our shoulders together
tired from their clumsy flapping
deep inside a neverending dream
we hoped to dream forever

 

Though we knew we’d fall
we flew still higher
the world we saw for the first time was so beautiful and sad

 

lyrics in Korean

 

 


Death Fugue by Paul Celan

translated from the German by Christopher Middleton

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink it at nightfall
we drink it at noon in the morning we drink it at night
drink it and drink it
we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie there
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete
he writes it and walks from the house the stars glitter he whistles his dogs up
he whistles his Jews out and orders a grave to be dug in the earth
he commands us strike up for the dance

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink in the mornings at noon we drink you at nightfall
drink you and drink you
A man in the house he plays with the serpents he writes
he writes when the night falls to Germany your golden hair Margarete
Your ashen hair Shulamith we are digging a grave in the sky it is ample to lie *****there

 

He shouts stab deeper in earth you there and you others you sing and you play
he grabs at the iron in his belt and swings it and blue are his eyes
stab deeper your spades you there and you others play on for the dancing

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at nightfall
we drink you at noon in the mornings we drink you at nightfall
drink you and drink you
a man in the house your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith he plays with the serpents

 

He shouts play sweeter death’s music death comes as a master from Germany
he shouts stroke darker the strings and as smoke you shall climb to the sky
then you’ll have a grave in the clouds it is ample to lie there

 

Black milk of daybreak we drink you at night
we drink you at noon death comes as a master from Germany
we drink you at nightfall and morning we drink you and drink you
a master from Germany death comes with eyes that are blue
with a bullet of lead he will hit in the mark he will hit you
a man in the house your golden hair Margarete
he hunts us down with his dogs in the sky he gives us a grave
he plays with the serpents and dreams death comes as a master from Germany

 

your golden hair Margarete
your ashen hair Shulamith.

 

poem in German

listen to Celan reading the poem


El Desdichado* by Gérard de Nerval

translated from the French by geul

 

I am the Dark One, – the Widower, – the Disconsolate,
The Prince of Aquitaine whose Tower is in ruins:
My only Star is dead, – and my sequined lute
Bears the black Sun of Melancholy.

 

In the night of the Tomb, You who consoled me,
Give me back Posillipo and the Italian sea,
The flower that so pleased my desolate heart,
and the vine where the Pampre and the Rose entwine.

 

Am I Love or Phoebus? . . . Lusignan or Biron?
My forehead is scarlet still, from the Queen’s kiss;
I’ve dreamed in the Grotto where the mermaid swims. . .

 

And I, victorious, twice crossed the Acheron:
Modulating by turn on Orpheus’ lyre
The sighs of the Saint and the cries of the Fairy

 

 

*Spanish for “The Wretched One.” The title is also in Spanish in the original French poem.

 

poem in French