One Breath by Moon Tae-jun

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Photographed by Darcy Brandel

One Breath by Moon Tae-jun

The space between flowers blooming and falling
We might call it a breath
The tree’s cry makes flowers bloom
With another cry flowers fall
The space between blooming and falling
We might call it a breath
Even trees have lungs spread like flatlands
One breath and an ebb tide flows in and out
One breath and trees shake once in the wind
Father completes one sixty-year cycle, a life like the measles
We might call it a breath

한 호흡/ 문태준

꽃이 피고 지는 그 사이를
한 호흡이라 부르자
제 몸을 울려 꽃을 피워내고
피어난 꽃은 한번 더 울려
꽃잎을 떨어뜨려버리는 그 사이를
한 호흡이라 부르자
꽃나무에게도 뻘처럼 펼쳐진 허파가 있어
썰물이 왔다가 가버리는 한 호흡
바람에 차르르 키를 한번 흔들어 보이는 한 호흡
예순 갑자를 돌아나온 아버지처럼
그 홍역 같은 삶을 한 호흡이라 부르자

(Originally published in Azalea: Journal of Korean Literature and Culture 4)

moontaejunphotoMoon Tae-jun (1970-) has published four collections of poetry: Chattering Backyard (2000), Bare Foot (2004), Flatfish (2006), and Shadow’s Development (2008) as well as other essays and commentary. One of the most popular poets of the younger generation, Moon uses deceptively simple poetic language with profound lyricism, commenting on the struggle of daily life. Grounded in Buddhist philosophy, his poems speak with reverence for all forms of life and emphasize the necessity of emptying oneself. Moon is a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Dongseo Literature Award (2004), the Midang Literature Award (2005), and the Sowol Poetry Award (2007).

1 thought on “One Breath by Moon Tae-jun

  1. Beautiful,
    it’s first time that I read Korean poetry and I want to read more especially for Tae-jun , he’s a great poet in my opinion ..

    Thank you 🙂

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