As Falling Leaves Pile Up by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Hye Hyon

As Falling Leaves Pile Up by Kim Nam-ju

You are my longing—
come over;
gently push the ferry across the river—
come, driving the short rain.

You are my longing—
when the falling leaves pile up between the pines,
come over, gently step over a dozen piles of them.

Come, you are my light—
before the first snow melts,
come, hurry, carrying a match in your chest.

Come, come, hurry
across the field, when new buds sprout—
come, run, carrying an armful of news
because you are my joy.

지는 잎새 쌓이거든/ 김남주

당신은 나의 기다림
강건너 나룻배 지그시 밀어 타고
한줄기 소낙비 몰고 오세요

당신은 나의 그리움
솔밭 사이사이로 지는 잎새 쌓이거든
열두 겹 포근히 즈려밟고 오세요

오세요 당신은 나의 화로
눈 내려 첫눈 녹기 전에 서둘러
가슴에 당신 가슴에 불씨 담고 오세요

오세요 어서 오세요
가로질러 들판 그 흙에 새순 나거든
한아름 소식 안고 달려 오세요
당신은 나의 환희이니까요

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

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