Category Archives: Yun Dong-ju

Confessions (참회록) by Yun Dong-ju (윤동주)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Of what dynasty
could the tarnished green copper mirror be a relic
that my face lingering within it
brings on such disgrace

*

Let’s reduce the confession to a single line.
— Twenty four years and one month
for what happiness have I lived?

*

 Tomorrow or the day after or on any joyful day
I have to write another line of my confessions.
— Then, at that young age
why did I make such a shameful confession?

*

Each night let’s clean the mirror
with the palm of my hand, with the sole of my foot.

 *

Then the back of a sad person
walking alone under some shooting star
appears in the mirror.

 

poem in Korean

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Another Hometown by Yun Dong-ju

translated from the Korean by geul

 

 

The night I returned to my hometown
my skeleton followed me and lay down in the room with me.

*

The dark room opens up out into the universe,
could it be from the skies – the wind blows in like sound.

*

Looking closely
at the finely weathering skeleton
with tears welling up – is it me weeping?
Or is it the skeleton weeping?
Or is it the beautiful soul that’s weeping?

*

The faithful dog
stays up all night and barks at the darkness.

*

The dog barking at the darkness
is no doubt pursuing me.

*

Let’s go let’s go
like a person on the run.
Keeping the skeleton in the dark
Let’s move on to yet another lovely hometown.

 

poem in Korean


The Wind Blows by Yun Dong-ju

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

 

The wind blows
where does the wind blow from
where is it blown to

*

The wind blows but
my anguish has no reason

*

Is there no reason for my anguish

*

Not a single woman have I loved
nor have I mourned the times

*

The wind keeps blowing but
my feet stand upon a rock

*

The river keeps flowing but
my feet stand upon a hill

 

poem in Korean


Snow by Yun Dong-ju (December 1936)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Last night
snow came down in heaps

*

It must be a blanket to cover
the roof
the road the field
so they won’t be cold

*

That’s why
it only falls in cold winter

 

original Korean

about the poet


Night of Counting Stars by Yun Dong-Ju (별 헤는 밤, 윤동주)

(translated from the Korean by geul)

*

The sky where the season passes
is brimming with fall

*

Without a worry
I think I will count all the stars of fall

*

The stars that engrave themselves in my heart — one, two
The reason I can’t count them all now
is that morning comes easily
is that tomorrow night remains
is that my youth is not over.

*

The memory in a single star and
The love in a single star and
The loneliness in a single star and
The longing in a single star and
The poem in a single star and
Mother, Mother in a single star,

*

Mother, for each star I try to say a lovely word. The names of the kids I shared a desk with in grade school, Pae, Kyung, Ok, such names of the native girls, the names of girls who’ve already become mothers of babies, the names of poor neighbors, pigeons, puppies, rabbits, mules, deer, Francis Jamme, Rainer Maria Rilke, I try to say the names of such poets.

*

They are too far away.
Just as the stars are a long way off.

*

Mother,
and you are far away in Bukgando.

*

I long for something
and so on top of this hill where the starlight falls
I try to write the letters of my name
and cover it up with dirt.

*

To be sure the bug that stays up all night crying
does so because the shameful name saddens it

*

However, when winter passes and spring also comes to my star
as the green grass grows above the grave
over the hill where my name is buried
grass will grow thick like pride itself.

*

original Korean

About the poet Yun Dong Ju