Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid
The May of My Heart by Kwak Je-gu (1954- )
I longed to open a green umbrella hanging
with a pink ribbon wrapped around it.
Standing in the spring wind blowing in,
I longed to collect flowers along the bank
and flowers of my heart,
and spray them toward the glowing sky of the South.
I longed to shout a poem that makes one burst into tears
toward the grass surging strongly
from the wound of a rocky mountain.
For that which was burned to bones and
for that which collapsed and then became more beautiful,
I longed to pin a few short flowers
onto the heart of the naked land after the snow melted.
And then I longed to become a star.
I longed to become the starlight of the eastern sky
which has a warm heart,
a star that descends on the dew-drenched, dawn grass
and with the incomprehensive fragrance of the sky
puts to sleep the sorrows of this land.
Ah, what should I do, my love?
On this May day in my heart,
only the azaleas hanging with black ribbons around their stalks
maniacally burn the spring mountains and streams.
내 마음의 오월/ 곽재구
분홍 리본이 달린
초록빛 우산 하나 펼쳐 주고 싶었다
불어오는 봄바람 속에 서서
강둑 위의 꽃들과
내 마음의 꽃들을 함께 모아
불빛이 타는 남녘 하늘에 뿌려 주고 싶었다
돌산 응어리에 거칠게 솟아난 풀들을 향하여
미치게 눈물 나는 시 한 구절 외쳐 주고 싶었다
불타서 뼈로 남은 것들과
쓰러져서 더욱 아름다운 것들을 위하여
헐벗은 땅 눈 녹은 가슴에
키 작은 풀꽃 몇 송이 꽂아 주고 싶었다
그리고 이제는 별이 되고 싶었다
이슬 적신 새벽 풀밭에 내려와
알 수 없는 하늘의 향기로 이 땅의 슬픔들을 잠재우는
가슴 뜨거운 동녘 하늘의 별빛이 되고 싶었다
아아 그러나 어찌하랴 사랑이여
내 마음의 오월 그 하룻날은
꽃대궁에 검정 리본을 매단 진달래만
미친 듯 봄 산천을 불태우고 있음을
Kwak Je-gu (곽재구) was born in Gwangju in 1954. He studied Korean literature at Chonnam National University. He made his literary debut as a poet with “At Sapyung Station,” which won the Spring literary award organized by the Joongang Daily in 1982. From 1981 to 1987, he worked as a member of “May Poetry,” a group of creative writers deeply inspired by the Gwangju Uprising in 1980. His poetry collections include At Sapyung Station, Jeonjang-po Arirng, Korean Lovers, A Song of Seoul and The Clear Current. He currently teaches creative writing at Suncheon National University. In 1996, he received the Dongseo Literary Award.