Category Archives: Kim Soo-young

Grass by Kim Soo-young

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

 

The grass lies down
Waving in the east wind that drives the rain
The grass lay down
And finally cried.
After crying the more because the day was gray
It lay down again.

*

The grass lies down
Lies down faster than the wind
Cries faster than the wind and
Rises before the wind does.

*

The day is gray and the grass lies down.
To the ankles
To the soles of the feet it lies down.
Though it lies down later than the wind
It rises before the wind
Though it cries later than the wind
It laughs before the wind does.
The day is gray and the grassroots lie down.

 

poem in original Korean

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Coming Out of the Old Palace One Day by Kim Soo-young

(translated from the Korean by geul)

Why do I only fly into a rage at little things
instead of at that king’s palace, instead of at
   the debauchery that went on there
I fly into a rage because I got a hunk of fat for the 50-
   won rib I ordered
I fly into a petty rage and cuss out the pig-faced
   bitch owner of the seol-leong-tang* place
Petty cussing out

Just once, upright,
for the writer dragged away
demanding the freedom of the press and protesting
   soldiers sent to Vietnam
which I haven’t managed to do
Is it that I can only despise the night watchmen who
come back three, four times to get their 20 wons?

My petty tradition is of long-standing and now obstructs me
   as sentiment
So, for example, this happened
When I was at the 14th field hospital in the POW
   camp in Busan
an informant seeing that I was making sponges
   and folding gauze with the nurses
made fun of me – shouldn’t I be in the prison police,
   how could a man do such work?
In front of the nurses

My resistance now isn’t a bit different from making
the sponges and folding the gauze
At the howling of a dog, I yelp
I lose to the tantrums of a whipper snapper
The leaves falling from a ginkgo tree are
   a bed of thorns that I traverse

In any case I stand aside and do not stand
at the peak, very probably I stand a bit off to the side
And I know that standing aside a bit is a bit
of a cowardly thing to do!

And so I resist, in this petty manner,
the barber
not the landlord but the barber
not the county clerk not even the village clerk
but the night watchman, all for 20 wons, 10 wons
Isn’t it hilarious? For 1 won

Sand, how small am I?
Wind, dust, grass, how small am I?
Really, how small am I . . . ?

poem in the original Korean

*beef and rice soup