- Nostalgia for July
When the wind ruffled now and then,
Over the young radish flower-bed in the hedged backyard
Butterflies were hovering like petals.
The poor family
Drying sweats with their hemp summer jackets
Were wrapping boiled barley with crown daisies.
Drunk with the scent of falling zelkova blooms,
An old cow
Was nodding, nodding through a long day.
While cicadas were chirping at increasing intervals
And the sunset blazing on the dragonfly's back,
We were trimming a paper lantern.
On the darkened roof
The gourd's white flowers
Pop up under the starlight.
Rounding the stone wall smothered in the fumes of a smudge,
Were flocking towards the front stream, the front stream.
Faces of my hometown folks in the far distance!
My hometown is a thousand ri away to the south;
Such a reminiscence flickering like a firefly!
Dusk falls down at the small garden of antiquity,
Bosom soothed carelessly wears out to the end.
As a will gets loose like afternoon shades in the dead woods,
Angst becomes lightly denser than gray air.
Yonder, hair with tired roots is long in dishevel,
A sigh of love holding solitude grows edgy alone. . . .
At the end of eaves, a spider gets wet in the dark cold rain,
Ah, whither, whither a red rose is!
Translated by J-Y Noh
Note on the Poet
Kim Dal-jin (1907~1989) was Born in Ungdong-myeon, Changwon, South Gyeongsang province in 1907. After graduation from a Buddhist college in Seoul in 1939, he entered a Buddhist monastery. Soon after Korean independence from Japanese colonial rule, however, he returned to the secular world. He taught at a highschool briefly and then worked as a journalist for the Dong-a daily newspaper in 1945. Later in his life, he had worked as a translator at the Buddhist Sutra Translation Center in Dongguk University from 1973 until his death in 1989. Apart from his translation of Buddhist sutras, he published several volumes of poems such as Cheongsi (Green Persimmons, 1940), Songs of an Owl (1983), and Until A Big Lotus Blooms (1984). At his best, his poetry is characterized by simplicity and translucence in diction and imagery. However, this disguised simplicity often exudes multiple complexities with rich transcendental meanings.
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