The South I Long for by Kwak Je-gu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Kim Kyung-hwan (Youngchui Mountain, Yeosu)

The South I Long for by Kwak Je-gu (1954- )

Where is the place?
If you look, you will find the place azaleas bloom like tears
at a corner of the foot of the mountain.
If you call toward it,
putting together your big jointed hands
it answers with clouds mixed with tears–
the place where blood-filled tears gather again.
When you look back to the land you miss
which in deepening darkness lies alone, becoming sorrowful,
today who is calling it, thirsting for deep love?
Young poet, do you know
everywhere in this land
you can see clearly with open eyes:
in the autumn melody when the autumn wind blows,
in the spring melody when the spring wind blows,
in the quiet sound of the rising tide,
the undying, sorrowful powers of this land
that are like corn, green peppers,
and winter larva in snow,
come into bloom on our collapsed hearts.

그리운 남쪽/ 곽재구

그곳은 어디인가
바라보면 산모퉁이
눈물처럼 진달래꽃 피어나던 곳은
우리가 매듭 굵은 손을 모아
여어이 여어이 부르면
여어이 여어이 눈물 섞인 구름으로
피맺힌 울음들이 되살아나는 그곳은
돌아보면 날 저물어 어둠이 깊어
홀로 누워 슬픔이 되는 그리운 땅에
오늘은 누가 정 깊은
저 뜨거운 목마름을 던지는지
아느냐 젊은 시인이여
눈뜨고 훤히 보이는 백일의
이 땅의 어디에도
가을바람 불면 가을바람 소리로
봄바람 일면 푸른 봄바람 소리로
강냉이 풋고추
눈 속의 겨울 애벌레와도 같은
죽지 않는 이 땅의 서러운 힘들이
저 숨죽인 그리움의 밀물소리로
우리 쓰러진 가슴 위에 피어나고 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 StationJeonjang-po ArirngKorean LoversA Song of Seoul and The Clear Current. He currently teaches creative writing at Suncheon National University. In 1996, he received the Dongseo Literary Award.

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