Jesus of Seoul by Chung Ho-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Painted by Kim Seon-soo

Chung Ho-seung, “Jesus of Seoul”

1

Jesus casts a fishing rod and sits by the Han River.
He makes a campfire at the riverside and dries his wet clothes.
Every day wild grass collapses, pierced by the swords of humans,
and a flower of a human that is like grass blooms and withers.
To see humans become beautiful, Jesus, who is wet with the winter rain,
is crying, leaning against the wall of the Westgate detention center.

2

In the drunken evening, Jesus’ long shadow is moving beyond the horizon.
Over the back of Jesus, who has begged a bowl of cold rice,
a crescent quickly rises. Was there overflowing peace in suffering,
longed-for freedom in tears? Thinking of the bread and love of Seoul,
the bread and tears of Seoul, Jesus is smoking alone.
He watches people disappear into a human dew.
At night people sleep, chewing on sand.
Leaves stay in Seoul for a moment in order to leave,
and Jesus is walking toward the end of despair.

3

Thirsty. I feel thirsty because people’s dreams are gone before Seoul sleeps.
Where is someone walking, holding a lamp?
I can’t see the pathways of Seoul, and you collapse
on the heap of ashes every night and cry, tearing down the cloak.
At the sound of a gunshot, snow falls,
and into the depth of love and faith the first snow falls.
I find no place to throw a stone I grabbed in Seoul.
My beloved, I miss you again.  Lift your cup with me.
Nowhere in Seoul’s night sky where snow is falling
can I rest my head for a moment, so please lift your cup with me.
You whose chest has collapsed at knife point,
carrying a glass, walking into darkness,
escaping from the knife point of this world,
walk Seoul’s snow-covered path till snow stops falling.
The lamps of the evil have not been extinguished yet,
and the silent ears of a human who strains to hear
the dawn of Seoul has been wet by grass blades. I am thirsty.
Ah, I am thirsty because the dreams of Seoul are gone before people sleep.

4

I want to drink a human cup.
I want to meet a person of beautiful memories
and exchange Soju cups and share mung-bean pancakes made of tears.
I want to hear a human’s dress brush grass blades on a spring day
when a petal falls like a knife,
and want to live in the country of people rather than the country of hearts.
I want to kindle alone the lamp of Seoul
so that human lamps will not go out on at dawn;
I yearn for the longing of Seoul,
leaning against a poor person’s window.

5

Those who worship me are sorrowful,
and those who feel sad for me are sorrowful.
Those who are joyful for me are sorrowful,
and those who mourn for me are more sorrowful.
I have not suffered for my neighbors,
and I have not looked up at the stars of the poor.
Those who call on my name with all their hearts are unfortunate,
and those who love my name with all their hearts are more unfortunate.

서울의 예수/ 정호승

1

예수가 낚싯대를 드리우고 한강에 앉아 있다. 강변에 모닥불을 피워 놓고 예수가 젖은 옷을 말리고 있다. 들풀들이 날마다 인간의 칼에 찔려 쓰러지고 풀의 꽃과 같은 인간의 꽃 한 송이 피었다 지는데, 인간이 아름다워지는 것을 보기 위하여,예수가 겨울비에 젖으며 서대문 구치소 담벼락에 기대어 울고 있다.

2

술 취한 저녁. 지평선 너머로 예수의 긴 그림자가 넘어간다. 인생의 찬밥 한 그릇 얻어먹은 예수의 등 뒤로 재빨리 초승달 하나 떠오른다. 고통 속에 넘치는 평화, 눈물 속에 그리운 자유는 있었을까. 서울의 빵과 사랑과 서울의 빵과 눈물을 생각하며 예수가 홀로 담배를 피운다. 사람의 이슬로 사라지는 사람을 보며, 사람들이 모래를 씹으며 잠드는 밤. 낙엽들은 떠나기 위하여 서울에 잠시 머물고,예수는 절망의 끝으로 걸어간다.

3

목이 마르다.서울이 잠들기 전에 인간의 꿈이 먼저 잠들어 목이 마르다. 등불을 들고 걷는 자는 어디 있느냐. 서울의 들길은 보이지 않고,밤마다 잿더미에 주저앉아서 겉옷만 찢으며 우는 자여.총소리가 들리고 눈이 내리더니, 사랑과 믿음의 깊이 사이로 첫눈이 내리더니,서울에서 잡힌 돌 하나,그 어디 던질 데가 없도다. 그리운 사람 다시 그리운 그대들은 나와 함께 술잔을 들라.눈내리는 서울의 밤하늘 어디에도 내 잠시 머리 둘 곳이 없나니, 그대들은 나와 함께 술잔을 들라.술잔을 들고 어둠 속으로 이 세상 칼끝을 피해 가다가,가슴으로 칼끝에 쓰러진 그대들은 눈 그친 서울밤의 눈길을 걸어가라.아직 악인의 등불은 꺼지지 않고,서울의 새벽에 귀를 기울이는 고요한 인간의 귀는 풀잎에 젖어, 목이 마르다. 인간이 잠들기 전에 서울의 꿈이 먼저 잠이 들어 아, 목이 마르다.

4

사람의 잔을 마시고 싶다.추억이 아름다운 사람을 만나,소주잔을 나누며 눈물의 빈대떡을 나눠 먹고 싶다.꽃잎 하나 칼처럼 떨어지는 봄날에 풀잎을 스치는 사람의 옷자락 소리를 들으며,마음의 나라보다 사람의 나라에 살고 싶다.새벽마다 사람의 등불이 꺼지지 않도록 서울의 등잔에 홀로 불을 켜고, 가난한 사람의 창에 기대어 서울의 그리움을 그리워하고 싶다.

5

나를 섬기는 자는 슬프고,나를 슬퍼하는 자는 슬프다.나를 위하여 기뻐하는 자는 슬프고,나를 위하여 슬퍼하는 자는 더욱 슬프다.나는 내 이웃을 위하여 괴로워하지 않았고,가난한 자의 별들을 바라보지 않았나니,내 이름을 간절히 부르는 자들은 불행하고, 내 이름을 간절히 사랑하는 자들은 더욱 불행하다.

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

Chung Ho-seung was born in 1950, in Hadong, Gyongsangnam-do. Since his debut in 1972 with a poem featured in the Korea Daily News, Chung has published many poetry collections, such asFrom Sorrow to HappinessJesus of Seoul, and Dawn Letter, which has achieved both critical acclaim and mass appeal. His minimal verse style interweaves the everday and the fantastic, proposing the possibility of lyrical revelation in even the most prosaic encounters.

The Pine Tree by Chung Ho-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Painted by Song Seung-ho

The Pine Tree by Chung Ho-seung

The young pine trees,
their roots all wrapped in plastic,
are leaving for somewhere
in a truck.

When the spring rain stops,
some will live, planting their roots,
and others will die
somewhere.

When the pine tree dies
there is nothing to throw away,
but when a human dies
there is much to throw away.

소나무/ 정호승

비닐로 뿌리를 친친 동여맨
어린 소나무들이
트럭에 실려
어디론가 떠나간다

봄비 그치면
더러는 뿌리내려 살기도 하고
더러는 어디에서
죽기도 할 것이다

소나무는 죽으면
버릴 게 없으나
사람은 죽으면
버릴 게 너무 많다

(Darcy Brandel and Anne Rashid read the earlier versions of this translation.)

Chung Ho-seung was born in 1950, in Hadong, Gyongsangnam-do. Since his debut in 1972 with a poem featured in the Korea Daily News, Chung has published many poetry collections, such asFrom Sorrow to HappinessJesus of Seoul, and Dawn Letter, which has achieved both critical acclaim and mass appeal. His minimal verse style interweaves the everday and the fantastic, proposing the possibility of lyrical revelation in even the most prosaic encounters.

Flowers by Chung Ho-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Painted by Kim Seon-soo

Flowers by Chung Ho-seung

I pull out the nails driven into the heart
and plant flowers in that place;
I pull up the stake driven into the heart
and plant flowers in that place.
If flowers were people’s tears
how beautiful would humans be?
If flowers were people’s dreams
how beautiful would humans be?

/ 정호승

마음속에 박힌 못을 뽑아
그 자리에 꽃을 심는다
마음속에 박힌 말뚝을 뽑아
그 자리에 꽃을 심는다
꽃이 인간의 눈물이라면
인간은 그 얼마나 아름다운가
꽃이 인간의 꿈이라면
인간은 그 얼마나 아름다운가

(Darcy Brandel and Anne Rashid read the earlier versions of this translation.)

Chung Ho-seung was born in 1950, in Hadong, Gyongsangnam-do. Since his debut in 1972 with a poem featured in the Korea Daily News, Chung has published many poetry collections, such asFrom Sorrow to HappinessJesus of Seoul, and Dawn Letter, which has achieved both critical acclaim and mass appeal. His minimal verse style interweaves the everday and the fantastic, proposing the possibility of lyrical revelation in even the most prosaic encounters.

To the Daffodil by Chung Ho-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Photography by Chae-Pyong Song

To the Daffodil by Chung Ho-seung

Don’t cry.
Because you are lonely, you are human.
To live is to endure loneliness.
Don’t wait for the call that’s not coming.
When it snows, walk on the snowy path.
When it rains, walk on the rainy path.
At the reed forest, the black-breasted longbill is watching you.
At times, even God sheds tears, feeling lonely.
Because of loneliness the birds are sitting on the boughs.
Because of loneliness you are sitting by the stream.
Once a day, even the mountain shadow comes down to the village, feeling lonely.
Even the bell rings outward, out of loneliness.

수선화에게/ 정호승

울지 마라.
외로우니까 사람이다.
살아간다는 것은 외로움을 견디는 일이다.
공연히 오지 않는 전화를 기다리지 마라.
눈이 오면 눈길을 걸어가고
비가 오면 빗길을 걸어가라.
갈대 숲에서 가슴검은도요새도 너를 보고 있다.
가끔은 하느님도 외로워서 눈물을 흘리신다.
새들이 나뭇가지에 앉아 있는 것도 외로움 때문이고
네가 물가에 앉아 있는 것도 외로움 때문이다.
산 그림자도 외로워서 하루에 한 번씩 마을로 내려온다.
종소리도 외로워서 울려 퍼진다.

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

Chung Ho-seung was born in 1950, in Hadong, Gyongsangnam-do. Since his debut in 1972 with a poem featured in the Korea Daily News, Chung has published many poetry collections, such as From Sorrow to Happiness, Jesus of Seoul, and Dawn Letter, which has achieved both critical acclaim and mass appeal. His minimal verse style interweaves the everday and the fantastic, proposing the possibility of lyrical revelation in even the most prosaic encounters.