Translated by Chae-Pyong Song
To the Daffodil by Chung Ho-seung
Because you are lonely, you are human.
To live is to endure loneliness.
Don’t wait for the call that’s not coming.
When it snows, walk on the snowy path.
When it rains, walk on the rainy path.
At the reed forest, the black-breasted longbill is watching you.
At times, even God sheds tears, feeling lonely.
Because of loneliness the birds are sitting on the boughs.
Because of loneliness you are sitting by the stream.
Once a day, even the mountain shadow comes down to the village, feeling lonely.
Even the bell rings outward, out of loneliness.
살아간다는 것은 외로움을 견디는 일이다.
공연히 오지 않는 전화를 기다리지 마라.
눈이 오면 눈길을 걸어가고
비가 오면 빗길을 걸어가라.
갈대 숲에서 가슴검은도요새도 너를 보고 있다.
가끔은 하느님도 외로워서 눈물을 흘리신다.
새들이 나뭇가지에 앉아 있는 것도 외로움 때문이고
네가 물가에 앉아 있는 것도 외로움 때문이다.
산 그림자도 외로워서 하루에 한 번씩 마을로 내려온다.
종소리도 외로워서 울려 퍼진다.
Darcy Brandel and Melanie Steyn read the earlier versions of this translation.
Chung Ho-seung was born in 1950, in Hadong, Gyongsangnam-do. Since his debut in 1972 with a poem featured in the Korea Daily News, Chung has published many poetry collections, such as From Sorrow to Happiness, Jesus of Seoul, and Dawn Letter, which has achieved both critical acclaim and mass appeal. His minimal verse style interweaves the everday and the fantastic, proposing the possibility of lyrical revelation in even the most prosaic encounters.