The Sea of Clouds in Jiri Mountain by Bok Hyo-geun

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Jiri Mountain; photography by Park Hwan-yun

The Sea of Clouds in Jiri Mountain by Bok Hyo-geun

Again Mother
appears to make a blanket,
spreading the new cotton wide.

Throughout the autumn she collects the cotton
from the upper field of the mountain ridge.

Mother remembers
how she sent out the first, the second, the third,
without even a patch of farmland to pass along,
without even a worn-out spoon.

At dawn,
the frosty wind is still chilly.

With new blankets,
she wishes for sweet dreams
for her sons and daughters,
and for all the offspring in this world
till the world gets warm
with the generous morning sunlight.

Mother of Jiri Mountain
hangs up the new cotton,
standing alone like an island.

지리산 운해/ 복효근

어머니는 또
햇솜을 저리 넓게 펴 놓으시고
이불을 지으려나보다

가으내 산마루 별밭에서
목화를 따시더니

묶어보낸 전답 하나 없이
닳아진 숟가락 하나 없이
제금 내보낸 첫째 둘째 셋째…

아직 새벽
서리 바람 차운데

넉넉한 아침 햇살 잘 펴져서
세상일 따뜻해질 때까지
내 딸 내 새끼 이 세상 모든 짐승 새끼들도
새 이불 펴 덮고 꽃잠 자라고

지리산 어머니
섬처럼 홀로 서서
햇솜을 펴 널고 계신다

Jiri Mountain is located in the southern region of South Korea, spanning three provinces: North and South Jeolla, as well as Gyeongsang. Throughout Korean history, the mountain has taken up a variety of different meanings, reflecting many writers’ desires and needs of different moments in time. For some Korean writers, Jiri Mountain is a tragic figure of tumultuous modern Korean history. For others, it has been a figure of the magical, the sacred, the abundant, and the motherly.  For others, Jiri Mountain has been metaphorized as a mountain of the people and resistance, but also as a mountain of death and resentment, where fierce battles were fought between the end of Japanese colonial rule and the Korean War, slaughtering many Koreans. And still yet, for others, the mountain is a space of life and hope that renews the lives of today and tomorrow.

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