The Cuckoo of Jiri Mountain by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Azalea painted by Kang Jang-won

The Cuckoo of Jiri Mountain

From across many summits
many cuckoos
called out their cries,
weeping as a group–
only after nine years of spring,
after being accustomed to untamed sorrow,
I knew that they were from a single cuckoo

Below Jiri Mountain,
when a cuckoo hides
on a summit,
its cry reverberates–
another summit behind takes it over
and yet another takes it over again–
I knew it cried as many cuckoos

Within Jiri Mountain
after the chain of summits cried out,
after coping for so long,
I saw the river finally open
without Han,
without lament

The strong current
of the Sumjin river
rushed toward Hadong
into the South Sea–
I saw it push up
against many small isles
of the South Sea archipelago,

One spring day
below Jiri Mountain,
one cuckoo cried out
till all her tears dried up,
as the last sorrowful color
of this world–
I saw it burn up
a field of azaleas
by the Refined Rocks

지리산 뻐꾹새/ 송수권
여러 산 봉우리에
여러 마리의 뻐꾸기가
울음 울어, 떼로 울음 울어
석석 삼년도 봄을 더 넘겨서야
나는 길뜬 설움에 맛이 들고
그것이 실상은 한 마리의
뻐꾹새임을 알아냈다.지리산하
한 봉우리에 숨은
실제의 뻐꾹새가
한 울음을 토해 내면뒷산 봉우리 받아 넘기고
또 뒷산 봉우리 받아 넘기고
그래서 여러 마리의 뻐국새로
울음 우는 것을 알았다.

저 연연한 산봉우리들이
다 울고 나서
오래 남은 추스름 끝에
비로소 한 소리 없는
강이 열리는 것을 보았다.

섬진강 그 힘센 물소리가
하동쪽 남해를 흘러들어
남해군도의 여러 작은 섬을
밀어올리는 것을 보았다.

봄 하룻날
그 눈물 다 슬리어서
지리산하에서 울던
한 마리 뻐꾹새 울음이
이승의 서러운
맨 마지막 빛깔로 남아
이 세석 철쭉 꽃밭을
다 태우는 것을 보았다.

Song Su-kwon (1940- ) was born in Koheung, Jeollanam-do. He made his literary debut in 1975 by publishing in Munhak Sasang “Leaning against the Temple Gate” and four other poems. So far he has published more than ten collections of poetry. Many of his poems and themes are significantly influenced by his formative experience of Jeolla-do and its dialect; his poems are known for their sympathetic representations of farmers and fishermen in the region. Among his awards are the Cultural Ministry Arts Award, the Sowol Poetry Award, the Jung Ji-yong Literary Award, the Youngrang Poetry Award, and the Kim Dong-ri Literary Award. Recently he retired from teaching creative writing at Suncheon National University.


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