Spring by Lee Sung-bu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Photography by Chae-Pyong Song

Spring by Lee Sung-bu

You come even though I don’t wait,
even when I have abandoned waiting itself.
You linger around the edges of mud flats
or rotten puddles,
you distract easily, get into fights,
fall on your back, tired,
and when the wind, who rushes to you with urgent news,
wakes you up, shaking, you come slowly, rubbing your eyes.
Slowly, slowly, at last, what should come comes.
You look so dazzling
I cannot get up to face you.
Though I open my mouth to shout,
my voice is hardened,
and I cannot forewarn anyone.
With difficulty, I open my two arms to embrace you,
the one who comes from afar, after winning the fight.

/ 이성부

기다리지 않아도 오고
기다림마저 잃었을 때에도 너는 온다.
어디 뻘밭 구석이거나
썩은 물웅덩이 같은 데를 기웃거리다가
한눈 좀 팔고, 싸움도 한 판 하고,
지쳐 나자빠져 있다가
다급한 사연 듣고 달려간 바람이
흔들어 깨우면
눈 부비며 너는 더디게 온다.
더디게 더디게 마침내 올 것이 온다.
너를 보면 눈부셔
일어나 맞이할 수가 없다.
입을 열어 외치지만 소리는 굳어
나는 아무것도 미리 알릴 수가 없다.
가까스로 두 팔을 벌려 껴안아 보는
너, 먼 데서 이기고 돌아온 사람아.

(Melanie Steyn has read the earlier version of this translation.)

Lee Sung-bu (1942 – 2012) was born in Gwangju. He studied Korean Literature at Kyunghee University. His published books of poetry include Our Bread, Traveling to Baekje, The Eve, Plain, and Leaving behind the Empty Mountain. Among his literary awards are Modern Literature Award and Korean Literature Writers Award.

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