Garland of Korean Poems 'A song of life'
Garland of Korean Poems 'A song of life'
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  • 승인 2007.07.25 11:06
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Lee Kee-chul
Korean Lang. & Lit
Note on the Poet
  Born at Geochang, Gyeongsangnam-do, in 1943, the poet was educated in the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Yeungnam University. He received a BA in 1971, an MA in 1974 and a PhD in 1986. Since 1981, he has taught at the Department of Korean Language and Literature at Yeungnam University. In 1972, he made his literary debut through the Hyeondaemunhak (Modern Literature). Until now, he has published twelve volumes, including Cheongsanhaeng in 1982, Yeolhaleur hyanghayeo (Towards Rehe in 1995, and Naega mannan salameun modu aleumdawossda (Those I've met were all beautiful) in 2000.
  In his early poems, the poet often expresses harmonious union with nature as well as a sense of loss about one's native place. Afterwards, his poetry is deeply concerned with all beings alive, their life, and the dignity of life on one hand, while dealing with communications between men and their harmonious relationships on the other. Strongly, he believes that poetry deprived of humanity is not good poetry at all. He was awarded Kim Su-yeong Literary Prize in 1993 and Metropolitan Daegu Culture Prize in 2000 among many others.

A song of life

The budding trees enchant me.
Watching greenery shoot in the soil, I feel pious.
Under the rotten eaves, a maid dreams of a tomorrow's bride, Inside the decayed gate,
a child as bright as sunlight Wakes up.

Living a life under the name of a man,
I compose verse in the name of leaves of grass.
To press all things has got rotten
Is too early:
At the foot of a hill, a fountain springs up;
Amid the field, a wild flower ripens seeds.

One who fears despair
Sings of despair beforehand though,
All men each carries a petal in his bosom.
Could one but turn a day of trouble into silk,
A year of wounds into jewellery,
I would send silver threads in gilt unrolled from sunlight
To my acquaintance.

But for my ten-line verse, in what words I could sing
Of the pith of a handkerchief-sized life;
Breathing in green and working in pure gold sunlight,
The scent of life I compose on a white sheet of paper. . . .

Those I've met were all beautiful

To move in a wide-leafed evening,
Neighbors ought to be heartier.
A night traced by the crescent moon,
To hear a postman's pounding on a gate,
Should wash the day with hands of greens.
Wishing to be in this world, we look up at stars:
Hoping to be in this world, we make a star-like promise.
When darkness walks into dew,
A day bids a farewell.
A parting perfected by a falling flower -
Such a parting is noble.
If parting is made as such,
A day is as rich as the field,
A year as full as a river.
The books I've read were all beautiful:
Those I've met were all beautiful too.
I wish to walk over a day
With feet as clean and white as a fallen flower.
Fallen though; with sweet-smelling petal-like words,
I wish to write
To my acquaintance
A lettuce-like letter.
                                       Translated by J-Y Noh

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