Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid
Prologue by Shin Dal-ja
Rumors are spreading.
Is paper disappearing?
I walk out to an empty field.
A desolate page comforts it after a harvest.
I open it carefully.
I walk out to a trail in a forest.
A small concert plays with the words of whispering leaves
and with the songs birds make with their beautiful sentences.
I go, and stand by a small pond in a beautiful yard of a Korean house
waiting for calligraphy many fish write with their bodies.
What replaces paper?
I hold it dear.
Paper is the spirit of humanity;
I worship paper as the pure spirit.
What would the poet write on it?
그래서 빈 들에 나갔지 추수 끝난 뒤에 헛헛한 들을 달래고 있는 적막 한 페이지
조심스레 펴 보았지
그래서 숲 속 작은 골목길로 나갔지 나뭇잎들이 수군거리는 말 새들이 단정히
문장 만들어 자작곡을 붙이는 작은 연주회
그래서 가 보았지 수려한 한옥 마당에 작은 연못 안의 물고기들 온몸으로 일필휘지하는
휘호 하나 기다리며 나 서 있으니
종이를 대신하는 것이 무엇인가
종이는 사람의 정신
정한 신이라 우러르니
거기 무엇을 시인은 적을 것인가.
(Originally published in Gwangju News, July 2012)
Shin Dal-ja (1943- ) was born in Geochang, Gyeongsangnam-do. She studied Korean literature at Sookmyung Women’s University. She taught creative writing at Pyongtaek University and Myungji College. Her poetry collections include Father’s Light, Passionate Love, The Long Talking Relationship, and Paper. She also has written several collections of essays including The Poet’s Love, You Remember These Three Things, and At Forty, I Learned the Baby-Steps of Life. Her literary awards include The Korea Literature Award, the Modern Buddhist Literature Award, and Youngrang Poetry Award.