Prologue by Lee Si-young

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Kim Kyung-sang


Prologue by Lee Si-young

Come quickly, the face I miss,
the one who left to set foot over the mountain, across the water.
Even when the bamboo leaves rustle, the faces await you–
they burn their sad eyes, opening the paper screen.
Before this night ends, come, shaking the ground,
and let us hasten to listen to Mother’s long story.


어서 오라 그리운 얼굴
산 넘고 물 건너 발 디디러 간 사람아
댓잎만 살랑여도 너 기다리는 얼굴들
봉창 열고 슬픈 눈동자를 태우는데
이 밤이 새기 전에 땅을 울리며 오라
어서 어머님의 긴 이야기를 듣자


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.

In the Space the Flower Left by Moon Tae-jun

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Darcy Brandel

Painted by Jung Jeong-im

In the Space the Flower Left by Moon Tae-jun

To think is to sit down on an empty chair
To sit down in an empty space the flowers left

To long is to sit down on an empty chair
To still leave it empty after sitting like red petals

moontaejunphotoMoon Tae-jun (1970-) has published four collections of poetry: Chattering Backyard (2000), Bare Foot (2004), Flatfish (2006), and Shadow’s Development (2008) as well as other essays and commentary. One of the most popular poets of the younger generation, Moon uses deceptively simple poetic language with profound lyricism, commenting on the struggle of daily life. Grounded in Buddhist philosophy, his poems speak with reverence for all forms of life and emphasize the necessity of emptying oneself. Moon is a recipient of many prestigious awards, including the Dongseo Literature Award (2004),  the Midang Literature Award (2005), and the Sowol Poetry Award (2007).

Lake by Jung Ji-yong

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Photography by Lee Sang-youp

Lake by Jung Ji-yong

A face
I can surely block
with my two palms,

but my heart of longing,
big like a lake, and
I cannot help but close my eyes.

호수/ 정지용

얼골 하나 야
손바닥 둘 로
푹 가리지 만,

보고 싶은 마음
湖水 만 하니
눈 감을 밖에.


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.

Stairs by Kwak Je-gu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won

Stairs by Kwak Je-gu

One day
on the forest trail
that reaches from the riverside
to the hut where I live
I resolutely made wooden stairs
so that their creaking cries
would come when I stepped,
more melodic than mountain cuckoo cries.
The day
will come
when you visit my cottage
and step on these stairs.
Even though it will be the time
when the god who loved me deeply
will also visit ready to open his bundles,
saying, look, this is the thing
you’ve been looking for all along; with longing,
I will, without failing, be able to listen
to you stepping on my wooden stairs.
Regardless of the god’s presence,
I will start to run after you on the forest trail by the riverside.

계단/ 곽재구

내가 사는 작은 오막살이집까지
이르는 숲길 사이에
어느 하루
마음먹고 나무 계단 하나
밟으면 삐걱이는
나무 울음소리가 산뻐꾸기 울음
소리보다 듣기 좋았습니다
언젠가는 당신이
이 계단을 밟고
내 오막살이집을 찾을 때
설령 그때 내게
나를 열렬히 사랑했던
신이 찾아와
자, 이게 네가 그 동안 목마르게 찾았던 그 물건이야
하며 막 봇짐을 푸는 순간이라 해도
난 당신이 내 나무계단을 밟는 소리
놓치지 않고 들을 수 있습니다
그리고는 신과는 상관없이
강변 숲길을 따라 달려가기 시작할 것입니다