Odong-do Island by Lee Si-young

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Choi Il-ryoung


Odong-do Island by Lee Si-young

After this wind, camellias will bloom.
Sea and sky, freeze the wind for three or four days.

오동도/ 이시영

이 바람 지나면 동백꽃 핀다
바다여 하늘이여 한 사나흘 꽝꽝 추워라

Lee Si-young (1949- ) was born in Gurye, Jeollanamdo. He studied creative writing at Seorabeol College of Arts. Since his literary debut in 1969, he has published poetry collections such as The Full Moon (1976), Into the Wind (1986), Friend, the Road Is Far (1988), The Song Dangling with Dew (1991), The Pattern (1994), The Gap (1996), The Quiet Blue Sky (1997), The Silver Whistle (2003), The Sea Lake (2004), The Aroma of Cow Dung(2005), and For Our Dead (2007). He has received many prestigious literary awards, including The Jung Ji-yong Literary Award (1996), The Dongseo Literary Award (1998), Modern Buddhist Literary Award (2004), The Jihoon Award (2004) and The Baeksok Literary Award (2004). For the last forty years, he has strived to write “poetry, resisting the reality and contradictions of the day.” He currently teaches creative writing at Dankuk University in Seoul.

The Entrance of Seonun Temple by Seo Jung-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Painted by Kang Jong-ryeol

The Entrance of Seonun Temple by Seo Jung-ju

To the gully of Seonun Temple
I went to see camellias blooming.
But it was too early for them;
Like the woman’s folk song
drifting from the rice-wine pub
only last year’s are still left
in as hoarse a voice as hers.

선운사 동구(洞口)/ 서 정 주

선운사 고랑으로
선운사 동백꽃을 보러 갔더니
동백꽃은 아직 일러 피지 않았고
막걸릿집 여자의 육자배기 가락에
작년 것만 시방도 남았습니다.
그것도 목이 쉬어 남았습니다.

(Darcy Brandel and Melanie Steyn read the earlier versions of this translation.)

Seo Jeong-ju (1915 – 2000) was born in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do. He is considered the founding father of modern Korean poetry. Under the pen name Midang, he published at least 15 collections of poetry. He taught Korean literature at Chosun University, among others. He was also nominated five times for the Nobel Prize in literature. His grandmother’s stories and his interest in Buddhism had a strong influence upon his writing. His works have been translated into a number of languages, including English, French, Spanish and German.

Camellia at Seonun Temple by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Painted by Kang Jong-rae

Camellia at Seonun Temple by Kim Yong-taek

Rejected by a woman,
I crossed barefoot
the icy gully of Seonun Temple,
biting my teeth
at the freezing water that ached my feet,
Telling myself
I will not cry again
I will not cry again
just because of that love,
just because of that woman,
I hid my tears.
But when I went to the backyard of Seonun Temple
with its camellias bursting red,
I wailed.

선운사 동백꽃김용택

여자에게 버림 받고
살얼음 낀 선운사 도랑물을
맨발로 건너며
발이 아리는 시린 물에
이 악물고
그까짓 사랑 때문에
그까짓 여자 때문에
다시는 울지말자
다시는 울지말자
눈물을 감추다가
동백꽃 붉게 터지는
선운사 뒤안에 가서
엉엉 울었다.

(Darcy Brandel and Melanie Steyn read the earlier versions of this translation.)

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River,A Clear DaySister, The Day Is Getting DarkThe Flower Letter I MissTimes Like A RiverThat Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the MountainA Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

Fingerprints of Wind: Odong-do by Shin Byong-eun

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kim Seon-soo

Fingerprints of Wind: Odong-do by Shin Byong-eun

Wind pushes up wind.
Today I carefully and slowly open the sound of wind,
accompanying the forest’s white wind,
remnants of wind that have lingered for thousands of years.
The chastity she traded to throw her body like a falling petal into wind
has bloomed into a camellia and her tale has become wind.
Yes, in the fresh blood red camellia I can see the road.
A footstep becomes the heart, and the heart becomes a road.
All over the sky and the earth these flowers have bloomed,
and in the depth of every wind these flowers have bloomed.

바람의 지문–오동도/ 신병은

바람이 바람을 밀어올려요
몇 천 년을 맴돌아온 바람의 퇴적,
나는 오늘 숲속 하얀 바람과 동행하며
조심스럽게 천천히 바람 소리를 열어봅니다
꽃잎처럼 몸을 던진 정절이 동백으로 피었고
설화 속의 물길이 바람이 되었어요
동백꽃 빨간 선혈 속에 길이 보여요
발길이 마음 되고 마음이 길이 되는,
하늘에도 땅에도 온통 꽃이 피었어요
바람의 깊이마다 꽃이 피었어요