The Winter Tree by Lee Jae-mu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Heo Hae-jung

The Winter Tree by Lee Jae-mu

When leaves were thick,
I couldn’t see clearly.
Even the sky was covered
and the area around my feet was dark.
The leaves fell when the frost descended.
With stems and branches only, I have endured
a time punctured with holes all over,
and have been stricken by wind.
Now I can see an old friend in the far off distance
and my good neighbor coming closer.
The winter tree is lonely and thus, strong.


이파리 무성할 때는
서로가 잘 뵈지 않더니
하늘조차 스스로 가려
발밑 어둡더니
서리 내려 잎 지고
바람 매 맞으며
숭숭 구멍 뚫린 한 세월
줄기와 가지로만 견뎌보자니
보이는구나, 저만큼 멀어진 친구
이만큼 가까워진 이웃
외로워서 단단한 겨울나무

The Persimmon Tree by Lee Jae-mu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

The Persimmon Tree by Lee Jae-mu

The persimmon tree is anxious to hear the news,
so it reaches out its branches toward the twig gate,
and gently shakes at the wind
shedding red tears
every fall drop by drop.
The farmer planted it there,
and lived for thirty years;
fifteen years have already passed
since he fled on the train.
The persimmon tree longs for him,
so every spring it sprouts new buds
stretching toward the gate.

감나무 /이재무

감나무 저도 소식이 궁금한 것이다
그러기에 사립 쪽으로는 가지도 더 뻗고
가을이면 그렁그렁 매달아놓은
붉은 눈물
바람결에 슬쩍 흔들려도 보는 것이다
저를 이곳에 뿌리박게 해놓고
주인은 삼십년을 살다가
도망 기차를 탄 것이
그새 십오년인데
감나무 저도 안부가 그리운 것이다
그러기에 봄이면 새순도
담장 너머 쪽부터 내밀어 틔워보는 것이다

Darcy Brandel, Laurie Kopack, Anne Rashid, and Melanie Steyn read the earlier versions of this translation.