Author Archives: geul

On Guilt

 

On my head is
bellyfuls of plastic that’s
the size of Texas strewn with
corpses of plastic bottles beached
and skewered for their spotted
fur because the warm old glow
of vanishing elephants is worth its
weight in miles driven miles and
miles and miles of gray ribbon out
west because it’s our dream and
became everyone’s dream drowning
babies and continents raining
fire down on weddings and scraping
off the orange from orangutan
mothers butterflies are confused and
flying the wrong way and all this
is on my head.

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Favorite Poems: “Ode to a Nightingale” by John Keats

(Listen to Benedict Cumberbatch reciting it.)

 

1.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
**My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
**One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
**But being too happy in thine happiness,—
****That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
**********In some melodious plot
**Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
****Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

2.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
**Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
**Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
**Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
****With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
**********And purple-stained mouth;
**That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
****And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

3.

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
**What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
**Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
**Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
****Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
**********And leaden-eyed despairs,
**Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
****Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

4.

Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
**Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
**Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
**And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
****Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
**********But here there is no light,
**Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
****Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

5.

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
**Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
**Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
**White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
****Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
**********And mid-May’s eldest child,
**The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
****The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

6.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
**I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
**To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
**To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
****While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
**********In such an ecstasy!
**Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain—
****To thy high requiem become a sod.

7.

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
**No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
**In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
**Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
****She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
**********The same that oft-times hath
**Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
****Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.

8.

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
**To toil me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
**As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
**Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
****Up the hill-side; and now ‘tis buried deep
**********In the next valley-glades:
**Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
****Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?


Nostalgia by Jeong Ji-yong

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

At the eastern end of a wide plain
a creek chattering an old tale meanders out
a pied ox
bellows lazily in the gold waning light

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

When the ashes cool in the grate
the wind cries over vacant fields like horses racing
my aging father in a doze
props his head upon a straw pillow

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

My heart raised on the soil
yearning for the blue of the sky
I look for arrows shot recklessly
drenching myself in the dewy grass

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

Like night waters dancing upon the mythical sea
my elder sister’s flying black hair
my plain insouciant wife
barefoot through the seasons
harvesting rice with the blistering sun on their backs

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

The stars aswirl in the sky, transferring
my foot to unknowable sand castles
crows cawing circling past
a shabby roof
sitting around a hazy fire murmuring softly

Can I forget that place even in dreams?

 

poem in original Korean


Rain by Jeong Ji-yong

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Shadow passes
over stone,

*

Elsewhere a chill wind
gathers.

*

Vying together
tails flying up,

*

Spindly-legged
mountain bird scurrying.

*

A rapid forms
gaunt white current,

*

Splitting off
fingers outspread.

*

Pause
Sudden drops spurt,

*

Noisily treading
red leaves.

 

poem in original Korean

 


Jealousy is my strength by Ki Hyeong-do

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

After a long time has passed,
weakened, the book will let fall these pages
Since I erected so many factories* then
foolishly, I had that much more to record
Like a dog roaming here and there under a cloud
I loitered in mid-air, unflagging
owning nothing but sighs
In all the evening streets I left my youth standing staring blankly
Since I counted the days I’ve lived in wonderment
since no one was afraid of me
the substance of my hope was only jealousy
Therefore, first, I leave here a few scribblings
Though I’ve spent my life roving madly looking for love
not once have I loved myself

 

 

*The original poem says “factories” (in Korean, of course), but it might be more understandable if you substitute in the word “castles.”

poem in original Korean