Tag Archives: Korean poems in translation

The Specialist by Ki Hyeong-do

translated from the Korean by geul

 

The man who moved in was a strange person
The walls around his house were all made of glass

Out of a moment’s error
The careless children playing in the alley
smashed the glass wall that
reflected the abundant sunshine

But children, it doesn’t matter
the glass can always be replaced
play in the alley, as much as you want

The face of the child who broke the glass had turned bright red
but the other children, who had a strange expression on their faces,
soon enjoyed themselves as children will
The child who insisted
How about building the wall out of sturdy pine board
was immediately exiled from that lovely alley

The glass wall was broken anew each day
After a certain requisite period, all the children of the neighborhood
became the man’s faithful subordinate

One day when the man removed the glass walls, it became clear
that the alley was the place that received the least amount of sunlight
the children, standing in a line,
carried bricks back and forth in silence

 

poem in Korean

 

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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


I shall be born a cat by Hwang In-suk

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

Next time I shall be born as a cat.
I shall be born
as a black patterned cat that glistens, gleams like oil.
I shall be born as a small cat
that knows how to roll like a ball and
looks like a big crow when running nimbly.
I shan’t be dozing on the veranda.
I shan’t be licking milk from a porcelain bowl.
I shall slither through a thornbush and
go out onto the wide open plain.
There I shall run and play with the field mice.
When I’m hungry I shall stealthily
pounce on a flock of sparrows.
Startled, they’ll probably fly off flap flap.
Ahahahaha
I shall scamper scamper chase them.
I shan’t catch the kid sparrow.
I shall only scare the panting kid
with a light tap of my front paw.
And then I’ll dart off and
catch the biggest one.
Soon after, the sun will go down,
the wind will probably get dreary.
The field mice and the sparrows will leave
and I shall be left alone on the plain.
I shan’t return.
I shall lick the darkness and look for a hay rick.
It should be cozy and warm smelling of straw.
I shall leap up easily and snuggle in deep.
My bedchamber should shine silver
in the moonlight.
Cold rain together with a strong wind
might range over the empty field, perchance.
Even so I won’t get a whisker wet.
I shall dream.
A dream of chasing the sparrow that got away
dashing across the bright field.

 

 

original poem in Korean


Dance of Pain by Choi Seung-ja

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

World dominated by wind.
That savage wind fleet,
Man-eating blue-backed shiver of sharks.

My bladder ballooning up reflexively.
Tonight’s fight will be close.
I feel it.

Thus the dazzling
dance of pain begins,
O sorrow, look,
matching your rhythm
I dance
these pliant arms and legs,
all my life how well
my body’s been
disciplined to your rhythm.

original poem in Korean


The Shitty Autumn by Choi Seung-ja

(translated from the Korean by geul)

 

The shitty autumn bursts in.
Autumn like syphilis.
And death comes upon twilight,
that one paralyzed leg.

*

Everything loses moisture
the boundaries of all the roads crumble.
The recorded voice of yesteryear’s singer wilts
Hello? Isn’t this Juk-seon? It’s Juk-seon, right? Juk-seon
The telephone line loses the receiving end in mid-air
and lovers that have left don’t ever return even in dreams.

*

And — and memory’s pooling sewage
in the cheap motel of time stinking eternally of horse piss
I ask in a groggy voice returned from the dead
How far have we come? How far still to go
before the river becomes the sea?

 

poem in original Korean

about the poet