Standing on the Mountain by Kim Hyun-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Mudeung Mountain, painted by Jung Jeong-im

Standing on the Mountain–Dedicated to Gwangju
by Kim Hyun-seung

Climbing on the Mountain, I look over it–
my city that always blooms like flowers,

the city that fought for freedom
like a knife blade driven through the air,
the place where even the green grass of graves
became warm with the names of brothers.

It now encroaches upon the fertile field
and expands into the vast suburb, following chimney smoke.

Now new roofs have risen high upon hills and forests,
and ivory sounds drift down from the high, illusory towers
that intellect, poetry, and night laboratories have built.

Climbing on the Mountain, I look over it,
my hometown that always blooms like flowers.
Roads lie untied like chima strings;
familiar bars, bookshops, barbershops,
still streams and trees greening the streets
bring neighbors near to hold hands.

And the whistle sounds we all hear
in the morning and in the afternoon
carry away my dream and my innate sorrow to a far, faraway place.

Ah, the mountain which I would climb
to sing out upon whenever heavy with cares
and my beloved city I will return to when old
to look vastly through the glasses of recollection–
my hometown where poets grow!

산줄기에 올라 -K도시에 바치는-/ 김현승

산줄기에 올라 바라보면
언제나 꽃처럼 피어 있는 나의 도시

지난 날 자유를 위하여
공중에 꽂힌 칼날처럼 강하게 싸우던,
그곳에선 무덤들의 푸른 잔디도
형제의 이름으로 다스웠던‧‧‧‧‧‧

그리고 지금은 기름진 평야를 잠식하며
연기를 따라 확장하여 가는 그 넓은 주변들‧‧‧‧‧‧

지금은 언덕과 수풀 위에 새로운 지붕들이 솟아 올라,
학문과 시와 밤중의 실험관들이
무형의 드높은 탑을 쌓아 올리는 그 상아의 음향들‧‧‧‧‧‧

산줄기에 올라 바라보면
언제나 꽃처럼 피어 있는 나의 고향-
길들은 치마끈인양 풀어져,
낯익은 주점과 책사와 이발소와
잔잔한 시냇물과 푸른 가로수들을
가까운 이웃을 손잡게 하여 주는‧‧‧‧‧‧

그리고 아침과 저녁에
공동으로 듣는 기적소리는
멀고 먼 곳을 나의 꿈과 타고난 슬픔을 끌고 가는‧‧‧‧‧‧

아아, 시름에 잠길 땐 이 산줄기에 올라 노래를 부르고,
늙으면 돌아와 기억의 안경으로 멀리 바라다볼
사랑하는 나의 도시 – 시인들이 자라던 나의 고향이여!

Kim Hyun-seung (1913-1975) was born and raised in Gwangju. He is known for sublimating his Christian imagination into poetry as in “The Prayer of Autumn.” He is also known for founding a literary journal, New Literature, in 1951. In the 1950s, he taught creative writing at Chosun University and mentored many great poets known around the country.

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