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.

If May Passes by Forgotten by Ko Un

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid
Narrated by Melanie Steyn

If May Passes by Forgotten by Ko Un

What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
One midnight in May martial law descended upon us.
We were beaten up like dogs and dragged in.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
One day in May we rose up,
clenching a thousand-year-old anger, clutching empty hands, we rose up.
We ran to the fresh green street, our street,
to Kumnam-no, the street of liberation, to rise up.
We drove away the pitch dark night,
firing our hearts with democracy, people, and nation
against the division of treason
against the treason of forty years of fascism,
against the tank of martial law we rose.
Sing! Fight! Bury these ghastly bodies!
On this fresh green street, our street,
soon we fell down from bullets,
shedding blood.
We fell, spilling red blood–
collapsed corpses, we were dragged on and on,
covered by gray dust, covered by ash,
we were taken somewhere like dead dogs,
carried on the military trucks that rushed by.
Oh, Mangwol Cemetery is not the only place, the only place.
Seven hundred, eight hundred, or two thousand patriots
are still buried in unknown territory.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
One day in May we fought to the end,
at Province Hall, in deserted back alleys,
we fought, stepping on the bloodstains of our dead comrades.
We fought proudly in the name of the Civilian Army of the Gwangju Uprising,
against foreign forces,
against compradors,
against the legacies of the Yushin dictatorial reform,
defending the lives of our land who could not be desecrated,
we died with punctured chests.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
At dusk, in the street outside Province Hall, a high school student tore his clothes
and his cry echoed through the streets:
“my sister was murdered brutally and ferociously–
give me a gun. I can fight.”
Soon after, he too, was shot and killed.
“Your beautiful breasts chopped like tofu.”
Oh, young girls and pregnant women
were stabbed to death.
In the streets, back alleys, and dead ends
young men were killed and dragged away.
One day in May, on the street of democracy, people, and nation,
suddenly the savages descended:
the 20th Division of Yangpyong,
the Special Troop,
the 31st Division.
The martial law troops of the 7th Airborne, the 3rd Airborne, and the 11th Airborne broke in, randomly shooting M16 rifles,
crushing with their gun handles,
stabbing again and again with their fixed bayonets;
reeking of liquor, they shot to death even those who surrendered.
Oh, the screams of this Inferno ran over the streets, like waves.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
Afterwards, the silence of the tremendous terror, like the steel grave,
extended over the living and the dead.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
From death we had to start all over again.
Those who survived, even those who forgot their grief had to return
and start all over again in the street of death.
We have died and have no words.
We have lived and have no words.
We were jailed, gagged, without even the sky to look towards,
gnashing our teeth,
every heart filled with a thousand years of bitter resentment,
swallowing this time of shame.
Down the violated street military boots of the 5th Republic marched heavily.
After that May, we carried death on our backs.
One snowy day,
we first came out to Kumnam street and Chungjang street,
and shook one another’s hands once again:
“You are alive.” “You are, too.”
Then we ran to Mangwol cemetery and wept.
Since then we came together every year and rose up.
Over and over we identified the enemies hiding on the dark side,
blowing our hot breath and defrosting the windows.
The star spangled banner flies high over this land–
this land swarms with Japs.
Now Gwangju is not Gwangju—Gwangju is not only a place.
It is the heart of the history of this land.
So many people rose up in every street–
every town, people met whispering:
lives of workers have become lumps of coal,
cows are worth nothing, and farmers have swallowed pesticides and perished.
A taxi driver burned himself up.
Families have been asphyxiated by coal fumes.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
College students set themselves on fire, falling like flowers,
and tens of others are ready to follow.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
Billions of Won were spent on teargas, apple bombs, and other god-damn bombs,
which blew up in our eyes and made us blind,
or shocked our chests and we collapsed.
Those who threw a stone were dragged out and beaten up till they vomited blood.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
The struggle for justice has not ended in the factories or the schools.
Even in prisons the struggle goes on for victory.
But in the cities of deception the flag of blood-ties waves strong,
Japan’s ruling party gleefully enters in and out,
like eunuchs who visit their in-laws.
Even the trash of the Yushin dictatorship has returned to take its part.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
To break these foreign forces, these compradors, this betrayal,
to sweep up this division and this fascism,
to achieve our independence,
our equality, and our reunification,
to dance a dance of history,
let our bodies terribly rot,
buried deep in this history.
We will fight, dead.
We will fight, feverishly living.
So we live, out of breath.
Oh, May!
Oh, May!
Oh, May of the splendid, green, dazzling days!
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
On a day dense with teargas
we shed tears and cough.
The cuckoo sings; at night it sings mournfully.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
Oh, dead fighters, friends,
a hundred years of struggle is not over yet.
We have to fight a hundred years more, friends.
We must fight on from generation to generation.
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
What will we do if May passes by forgotten?
No matter what, we will always unite again.
The scattered will meet again.
Blood-boiling May,
the month of struggle that shakes the whole body,
May, you are us.
United, we move on, breaking the waves of the ocean.
Although May has passed,
May is always alive in us.
We ourselves are May.
We are May.
We are May.
Shouts bursting from seven million of our people!
The masses of joy and embracing that will burst
from every corner of this land on that morning!
Oh, that’s our May. Liberation achieved from death.
that day, come quick!

Ko Un was born in Kunsan, Jeollabuk-do in 1933. As a recipient of numerous literary awards, Ko Un is one of the most famous contemporary poets in Korea. Since his debut in Hyondae Munhak in 1958, he has since produced over 120 literary works, including novels and critical writings. In 2010 he completed Maninbo, a now 30-volume poetry collection that had been published in installments over a period of twenty three years.