A Song Dedicated to Gwangju by Kim Jun-tae

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

Mangwol Cemetery in Gwangju

A Song Dedicated to Gwangju by Kim Jun-tae

In May, that year,
even the moon was bright in Gwangju, the City of Light
when the vampires rushed in like a  gang
in chartered Honam-line trains and helicopters
to turn the whole city into a ruin.

But in Gwangju,
even the moon was bright and full
when at every door, on every street
invaders like automatons
were running around, hungry for blood.

In May, that year
Gwangju was a vast sea,
a sea where seagulls were flying,
sails were rising,
waves were rolling
where islands were wailing like people.

In May, that year
Gwangju was a solitary cross
where slaughterers were laughing
till they became bright red while they were roasting a yellow dog,
where they took away priests and monks
and beat them up till their testicles burst.

In May, that year
Gwangju was a broken cross.
It was the Buddha’s naked body thrown away.
But in May, that year
Gwangju, the phoenix,
rose up again many times!

Ah, in May, that year
in Gwangju even the moon was bright.
People’s hearts ran like a river of water–
even the roadside trees put their arms around them,
all the people dancing in a circle, united in this new world.

Even when the devils armed with guns and bayonets
were poking everywhere as if crazy
and the whole city rolled like a barley field,
people cared for each other,
waved the flags of flesh and bone
along the road this land should follow.

Ah, in Gwangju, in May, that year
they knew the pleasure of living together–
joy was flapping like a sky, like a sky
where they rose up together again
even as they collapsed, dying.

광주에 바치는 노래/ 김준태

그해 5월
광주는 달도 밝았다
호남선 특별열차로
헬리콥터로 떼몰려온 흡혈귀들이
온 시가지를 쑥밭으로 만들 때

광주는 그러나
달도 둥그러이 밝았다
집집마다 거리마다
침략자와 같은 몽유병자들이
피에 굶주려 날뛸 때

그해 5월
광주는 끝없는 바다였다
갈매기가 날으고
돛이 오르고
파도가 나는 바다였다
섬, 섬들도 사람들로 울부짖는

그해 5월
광주는 고독한 십자가였다
학살자들이 황구(黃狗)를 그슬리며
시뻘겋게 웃을 때
신부와 스님들도 잡아가서
부랄이 깨져라고 두들겼을 때

그해 5월
광주는 부러진 십자가였다
발가벗겨 내팽개쳐진 부처의 알몸이었다
그러나 그해 5월
광주는 또 다시 볓 번이고
치솟아오르는 불사조!

아아, 그해 5월
광주는 달도 밝았다
사람들의 마음이 강물처럼 흐르고
길가의 가로수도 어깨동무 해주고
사람 세상 통일 세상 강강술래였다

총칼뿐인 악마들이
사방팔방 미친 듯이 들쑤셔도
온 시가지가 보리밭으로 출렁이고
사람들은 서로를 아껴주고
이 땅의 갈 길을 향하여
살과 뼈의 깃발을 흔들었다

아아, 그해 5월 광주는
함께 사는 즐거움이 있었다
함께 쓰러져 죽으면서도
함께 일어나 살고야 마는
하늘 같은 하늘 같은 펄럭임이 있었다

Kim Jun-tae (1949- ) was born in Haenam, Jeollanamdo. He studied German literature at Chosun University. He made his literary debut in 1969 with the publication of “Thrashing the Sesame” and other poems in The Poet. His poetry collections include Thrashing the SesameI Saw GodThe Rice Soup and HopeFire or Flower?, and Sword and Soil. He is known as the progressive poet of “Oh, Gwangju! The Cross of Our Nation!,” a poem of the Gwangju Uprising he published on June 2, 1980, in The Chonnam Daily; this poem has been acclaimed as the first poem that attempted to represent the uprising. He is a protest poet committed to writing about destroyed hometowns, national liberation, and the decolonization of culture.

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