He was in the Dark Cloud by Ra Hee-duk

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Mudeung Mountain, Photography by Seo Young-seok

He was in the Dark Cloud by Ra Hee-duk

I couldn’t see him,
so I couldn’t see the burn on his chest either

From the eastern window, I see Mudeung far away,
his dark green eyes look slack yet serene
but afraid of looking into the crater of  my memory,
I couldn’t come near him, not even once.
His eyes that witnessed such ghastly death:
how could they look so peaceful?
How could his wounded chest look so green?
But today he sat inside a dark cloud.

Though I couldn’t see him,
I woke to the sound of breathing nearby.

When I returned every night to the village tucked under his arm
and slept like a wounded animal,
he would walk down step by step
and watch over my giddy sleepy head.
I have seen him many times, yet it’s as if I didn’t see him.

As the dark cloud lifted,
I saw his back walking up.

Mudeung slowly, who returned to Mudeung–
though I couldn’t see his burn mark in the green,
my hand was stained by his wound.
I woke up tucked under his arm.

그는 먹구름속에 들어 계셨다 / 나희덕

그가 보이지 않으니
가슴의 火傷 또한 보이지 않았다

동쪽 창으로 멀리 보이는 無等,
갈매빛 눈매는 성글고 그윽하였으나
그 기억의 분화구를 들여다보기가 두려워
한 번도 가까이 가지 못했다
너무도 큰 죽음을 보아버린 눈동자가
저리도 평화로울 수가 있다니,
진물 흐르는 가슴이 저리도 푸르다니,
그러나 오늘은 그가 먹구름 속에 들어 계셨다

그가 보이지 않았지만
아주 가까이 숨소리에 잠이 깨었다

밤마다 그의 겨드랑이께 숨은 마을로 돌아와
상처입은 짐승처럼 잠이 들면
그는 조금씩 걸어 내려와
어지러운 내 잠머리를 지키다 가곤 했으니
그를 보지 않은 듯 나는 너무 많이 보아온 것이다

먹구름이 걷히자
천천히 걸어 올라가는 그의 등이 보였다

無等에게로 돌아가는 無等,
녹음 속의 화상은 보이지 않았지만
내 손에는 거기서 흘러내린 진물이 묻어 있었다
그의 겨드랑이께에서 깨어났다

 (Originally published in the Gwangju News, April 2012)

Ra Hee-duk (나희덕) was born in 1966 in Nonsan, Chungcheongnam-do. She received her Ph.D. in Korean literature from Yonsei University in 2006. She has published six books of poetry: To the Root (1991), The Word Dyed the Leaves (1994), The Place is Not Far (1997), That It Gets Dark (2001), A Disappeared Palm (2004), and Wild Apples (2009). She also published one collection of essays, A Half-filled Water Bucket (1999), and a volume of literary criticism, Where Does Purple Come From? (2003). Among her many literary awards are the Kim Suyoung Literature Award (1998), Modern Literature Award (2003) and the Sowol Poetry Award (2007). Growing up in orphanages, because her father was an administrator at an orphanage, she developed her strong sympathy for the less fortunate others. She currently teaches creative writing at Chosun University in Gwangju.

Gazing at Mudeung Mountain by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won (Mudeung Mountain in Gwangju)

Gazing at Mudeung Mountain by Song Su-kwon

The grand mountain,
the mountain that became a shield

The mountain buried
by the fog of floating spirits,
the mountain wet with rain,
the mountain of graves, the mountain of shamans

But look at it:
below the sky where a black kite circles around,
Mudeung is without discrimination–it is equal

The mountain,
the wife and husband
built on the ocher earth
with their teeth clenched;
the mountain, they call, as they leave this world,
till their throats burst up,
sitting on their shovels on the faraway riverbank;
the blood-stained mountain,
the wandering mountain

the mountain that became a shield,
the grand mountain

무등을 보며/ 송수권 

큰 산
방패가 된 산

떠도는 넋들의 안개에
묻은 산
비 묻은 산
무덤산 무당산

그러나 저 보아라 오늘
솔개가 도는 하늘 밑
무등은 무등일 뿐으로 평등하다

지어미 지아비
이 악물고
황토에 심은 산
이 삶을 떠나보낼 때
머나먼 강둑에 삽을 깔고 앉아 목 터져라
부른 산
피묻은 산
떠돌던 산

아 아

방패가 된 산
큰 산

Bound for the South by Koh Jung-hee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won (Mudeung Mountain in Gwangju, Korea)

Bound for the South by Koh Jung-hee

When the moon is full in mid-July, envisioning home,
I run down the road to Haenam, the place that I miss–
the road I take to watch the evening glow below Mother’s grave,
the road the typhoons Thelma, Alex, Vernon, and Win swept over,
the road that the floods ravaged and devilish waters shredded.

The end of the peninsula, the clouds of solitary spray.
Giving my heart to the South, to the South,
I suddenly want to bow, putting my two hands together.
Passing the Honam Plain, I want to bow.

The rice stalks that sway vibrantly
are like the veins of Father hunching over the field.
The horseweed flowers that bloom wildly
are like Mother’s attentive care that lingers
around the mountains and streams of my home.

The Mudeung Mountain that rises up purely,
the white-naped crane that hops,
the white poplar tree that dazzles–
today these do not look ordinary,
and I want to bow to the picturesque landscape.
I want to kneel down and kiss the land of the South.

남도행/ 고정희

칠월 백중날 고향집 떠올리며
그리운 해남으로 달려가는 길
어머니 무덤 아래 노을 보러 가는 길
태풍 셀마 앨릭스 버넌 윈이 지난 길
홍수가 휩쓸고 수마가 할퀸 길

삼천리 땅 끝, 적막한 물보라
남쪽으로 남쪽으로 마음을 주다가
문득 두 손 모아 절하고 싶어라
호남평야 지나며 절하고 싶어라

벼포기 싱싱하게 흔들리는 거
논밭에 엎드린 아버지 힘줄 같아서
망초꽃 망연하게 피어 있는 거
고향 산천 서성이는 어머니 잔정 같아서

무등산 담백하게 솟아 있는 거
재두루미 겅중겅중 걸어가는 거
백양나무 눈부시게 반짝이는 거
오늘은 예삿일 같지 않아서
그림 같은 산과 들에 절하고 싶어라
무릎 꿇고 남도땅에 입맞추고 싶어라

(Originally published in The Gwangju News, August, 2011)

Gazing at Mudeung Mountain by Seo Jung-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won (Mudeung Mountain in Gwangju, Korea)

Gazing at Mudeung Mountain by Seo Jeong-ju

Poverty is no more than tattered rags.
Can it cloak our inborn flesh, our natural heart
like the summer mountain
that stands baring its dark green back to the dazzling sun?

As the green mountain tends to orchids under its knees,
all we can do is nurture our offspring.

Husbands and wives,
as you meet the afternoon
when life retreats and gets swept up in rough waves,
once in a while sit down,
once in a while lie next to each other.

Wives, gaze silently at your husbands.
Husbands, touch also your wives’ foreheads

Even when we lie in the pit of a thorn bush,
we should always remember that we are just gems, buried alone,
thickly covered with green moss.

무등을보며/ 서정주

가난이야 한낱 남루(襤褸)에 지나지 않는다.
저 눈부신 햇빛 속에 갈매빛의 등성이를 드러내고 서 있는 여름 산 같은
우리들의 타고난 살결, 타고난 마음씨까지야 다 가릴 수

청산이 그 무릎 아래 지란(芝蘭)을 기르듯
우리는 우리 새끼들을 기를 수밖에 없다.

목숨이 가다 가다 농울쳐 휘어드는
오후의 때가 오거든
내외들이여 그대들도
더러는 앉고
더러는 차라리 그 곁에 누워라.

지어미는 지애비를 물끄러미 우러러보고
지아비는 지어미의 이마라도 짚어라.

어느 가시덤불 쑥구렁에 놓일지라도
우리는 늘 옥돌같이 호젓이 묻혔다고 생각할 일이요
청태(靑苔)라도 자욱이 끼일 일인 것이다.

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.

NB: Read Moon Byung-ran’s “Poverty” as a pair:

Standing on the Mountain by Kim Hyun-seung

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Mudeung Mountain, painted by Jung Jeong-im

Standing on the Mountain–Dedicated to Gwangju
by Kim Hyun-seung

Climbing on the Mountain, I look over it–
my city that always blooms like flowers,

the city that fought for freedom
like a knife blade driven through the air,
the place where even the green grass of graves
became warm with the names of brothers.

It now encroaches upon the fertile field
and expands into the vast suburb, following chimney smoke.

Now new roofs have risen high upon hills and forests,
and ivory sounds drift down from the high, illusory towers
that intellect, poetry, and night laboratories have built.

Climbing on the Mountain, I look over it,
my hometown that always blooms like flowers.
Roads lie untied like chima strings;
familiar bars, bookshops, barbershops,
still streams and trees greening the streets
bring neighbors near to hold hands.

And the whistle sounds we all hear
in the morning and in the afternoon
carry away my dream and my innate sorrow to a far, faraway place.

Ah, the mountain which I would climb
to sing out upon whenever heavy with cares
and my beloved city I will return to when old
to look vastly through the glasses of recollection–
my hometown where poets grow!

산줄기에 올라 -K도시에 바치는-/ 김현승

산줄기에 올라 바라보면
언제나 꽃처럼 피어 있는 나의 도시

지난 날 자유를 위하여
공중에 꽂힌 칼날처럼 강하게 싸우던,
그곳에선 무덤들의 푸른 잔디도
형제의 이름으로 다스웠던‧‧‧‧‧‧

그리고 지금은 기름진 평야를 잠식하며
연기를 따라 확장하여 가는 그 넓은 주변들‧‧‧‧‧‧

지금은 언덕과 수풀 위에 새로운 지붕들이 솟아 올라,
학문과 시와 밤중의 실험관들이
무형의 드높은 탑을 쌓아 올리는 그 상아의 음향들‧‧‧‧‧‧

산줄기에 올라 바라보면
언제나 꽃처럼 피어 있는 나의 고향-
길들은 치마끈인양 풀어져,
낯익은 주점과 책사와 이발소와
잔잔한 시냇물과 푸른 가로수들을
가까운 이웃을 손잡게 하여 주는‧‧‧‧‧‧

그리고 아침과 저녁에
공동으로 듣는 기적소리는
멀고 먼 곳을 나의 꿈과 타고난 슬픔을 끌고 가는‧‧‧‧‧‧

아아, 시름에 잠길 땐 이 산줄기에 올라 노래를 부르고,
늙으면 돌아와 기억의 안경으로 멀리 바라다볼
사랑하는 나의 도시 – 시인들이 자라던 나의 고향이여!

Kim Hyun-seung (1913-1975) was born and raised in Gwangju. He is known for sublimating his Christian imagination into poetry as in “The Prayer of Autumn.” He is also known for founding a literary journal, New Literature, in 1951. In the 1950s, he taught creative writing at Chosun University and mentored many great poets known around the country.