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.

The Winter Sky by Seo Jung-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Photo by Jung Jeong-im

The Winter Sky by Seo Jung-ju

With the dream of long nights, I wash clean
the beautiful eyebrow of my love in my heart
and transplanted the crescent to the sky.
The fierce bird of dead winter
recognizes its worth and swerves aside.

동천/ 서정주

내 마음 속 우리 님의 고운 눈썹을
즈믄 밤의 꿈으로 맑게 씻어서
하늘에다 옮기어 심어 놨더니
동지 섣달 나르는 매서운 새가
그걸 알고 시늉하며 비끼어 가네

(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.