Four Poems from As the Bird Guides the Mountain and Ocean

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Farewell Song

 

A night resembling your pink skin

The one playing the gayageum

Surviving alone in the yard

Is he dampening slowly

Severing his guts again and again and

Hanging them over the long body of moonlight

Is this how he is living, so tedious and long

이별가

 

그대의 분홍빛 살 같은 밤

금琴을 켜는 자

외홀로 뒤꼍에 살아남아

축축이 젖어가는가

애를 끊고 끊어

달빛의 긴 몸에 널어놓으며

지겹게 길게 살아계신가

어디에도 본디없는 너

 

내 목마름을 너에게 알리기 위해

어느 날 길을 떠났다

모두들 어디론가 가고 있기 때문에

너도 어디론가 간 것을 

물 따라 바람 따라 별 따라

나는 갈 뿐 

너의 흔적 가릴 길 없다

그리움과 외로움으로 

두 눈 멀고 두 괴 먹어

오늘도 떨고 서 있을 뿐

길 없는 길 갈 수 없는 나라

어디에도 본디 없는 너

You, Nowhere to be Found

 

I set out one day

To inform you of my thirst

Everyone is going somewhere so

You went somewhere, too

I am simply going

Following the water and the wind and the stars

There is no way to hide traces of you

I am simply shivering

Yet again deaf and blind

With longing and loneliness

I cannot walk a path that does not exist

You, nowhere to be found

새의 흔적

 

유리창에 부딫혀 떨어져 죽은 새

피가 부리뿌리에 배어 있다

그 다음부터

아무리 닦아도

유리창은 맑아지지 않는다

피가 흐르고

꿈틀대기까지 하는 유리창에

비춰 나오느니 내 모습

Traces of a Bird

 

A bird flew into my window and died

Blood soaks the root of its beak

Ever since

no matter how I clean

the window will not clear

Blood trickles down

In the writhing window

I see myself

Tree’s Term

 

I slip into the forest

When I hide behind a leaf

The leaflet stemming from my body 

Resembles a person that has left

While I ponder the resemblance

The leaflets become me in my place

That person becomes me

The forest grows over and I

Become one of the leaves

And then I resemble some face

I do not become a leaf

But the leaves become me

The traces of love I left behind

tremble briefly in the wind—

나무의 말

 

숲속으로 들어간다

몸을 잎 뒤에 감추면

내 몸에서 새록 돋아나는 잎사귀는

떠나간 사람을 닮는다

어디를 닮았을까 살피는 동안

나 대신에 잎사귀들이 내가 된다

그 사람이 내가 된다

숲은 우거지고 나는

잎사귀의 하나가 되어

어떤 얼굴을 닮는다

내가 잎사귀가 되는 게 아니라

잎사귀가 내가 된다

내가 남긴 사랑의 흔적이

바람에 잠깐 흔들린다

Translated by (from top to bottom) Sal Kang, Jisoo Hope Yoon, Ainee Jeong, Jay Kim

Yun Humyong, born in January 1946, is a poet, novelist, and artist from Gangneung, South Korea. In 1969, he created a literary magazine called The 70s with several of his peers. In 1977, he debuted with Expert Archer, his first collection of poems. Shortly after, his short story “Tomb Work” was published and he began his career as a fiction writer as well. Some of his other well-known works include The Love of Dunhuang (1983), There Is No Ape (1989), and As the Bird Guides the Mountain and Ocean (2017). He is the recipient of the 18th Hankook Ilbo Literary Award (1985), the 19th Yi Sang Literary Prize (1995), and the 62nd 3∙1 Culture and Art Award (2021), among others.