Winter’s Dance by Kwak Je-gu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won

Winter’s Dance by Kwak Je-gu

Before the first snow falls,
I must mend the memory window.
Brushing off the dust of despair and sorrow
piling up during the past seasons,
I must drive a new nail of waiting
into the edge of the creaking window frame.
I must take down the old curtain
hung without meaning,
light a small kerosene lamp
that won’t go out even in below-zero cutting wind,
and learn winter’s cold and shining dance.
The world is a lovely place depending how you look at it—
a place that dreams of the progress of a new world
where passionate love, labor, revolution, and touching go together.
Winter is rather warm if you embrace it.

겨울의 춤/ 곽재구

첫눈이 오기 전에
추억의 창문을 손질해야겠다.
지난 계절 쌓인 허무와 슬픔
먼지처럼 훌훌 털어내고
삐걱이는 창틀 가장자리에
기다림의 새 못을 쳐야겠다.
무의미하게 드리워진
낡은 커튼을 걷어내고
영하의 칼바람에도 스러지지 않는
작은 호롱불 하나 밝혀두어야겠다.
그리고… 차갑고도 빛나는 겨울의 춤을 익혀야겠다.
바라보면 세상은 아름다운 곳
뜨거운 사랑과 노동과 혁명과 감동이
함께 어울려 새 세상의 진보를 꿈꾸는 곳
끌어안으면 겨울은 오히려 따뜻한 것

Kwak Je-gu (곽재구) was born in Gwangju in 1954. He studied Korean literature at Chonnam National University. He made his literary debut as a poet with “At Sapyung Station,” which won the Spring literary award organized by the Joongang Daily in 1982. From 1981 to 1987, he worked as a member of “May Poetry,” a group of creative writers deeply inspired by the Gwangju Uprising in 1980. His poetry collections include At Sapyung Station, Jeonjang-po Arirng, Korean Lovers, A Song of Seoul and The Clear Current. He currently teaches creative writing at Suncheon National University. In 1996, he received the Dongseo Literary Award.