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  • Fifteen Seconds Without Sorrow, and: An Unavoidable Road, and: Things That Lead Me to Disillusionment
  • Shim Bo-Seon
    Translated by Chung Eun-Gwi (bio) and Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio)

fifteen seconds without sorrow

Above a distant highrise apartment the sun at its wits’ end is beating its breast, beside the daytime moon. Where shame is concerned, the world went to the dogs long ago. Sometimes, as many as fifteen seconds pass without sorrow arising. With every possible excuse, paths are bending in all directions everywhere. The silence on dusky sidewalks hopes to grow old there. All beings as they age leak like a roof when it rains. All old beings that leak dream of love as a new roof. Everyone knows: whatever happens was bound to turn out as it did. One afternoon as the sun is squeezing out rays with all its might, the past, walking backward, falls over the apartment railings. The future tumbles over right behind it. The present, being brief as a flower’s day—a flower’s day being the time it takes a flower to bloom and fade—is simply sad. A cat is happily nibbling petals. A woman is sipping chamomile tea. They seem quiet and peaceful. I stand aimlessly in the middle of the street. A man passes by on a bicycle, weeping. He is a human being destined to fall over. In my head the dream-garden’s dizziness is in full bloom. Now about fifteen seconds have passed without sorrow. I should get going, but no matter where, ultimately, the path is ending. [End Page 13]

an unavoidable road

This road is the same one I took yesterday. On this road, a person can meet only one other person. Because of shame, he pulls on his ears and covers his face with them. But on this road, there is nothing that cannot be mentioned. All day long he lies facedown. In order to erase the shame, he exchanges his palms and face. Yet, why are things that cannot be mentioned unrelated to those that should be mentioned? Why don’t rules become experiences? This road is easy to remember. The roadside trees successfully drop their leaves all at the same time. In order to forget the shame, he sometimes sings and claps. He never says a word. No one can greet him. [End Page 14]

things that lead me to disillusionment

The sun The right The smell of lemons Strolling without a thought A living dog beside a dead dog An illustrated plant book without hepatica The last sentence in a religious book Death in a slow-motion movie An artist’s erudition Losing by a wide margin Temperamental people Retrospectives Citation and footnote Yesterday’s telephone conversation Large bourgeois families Pronouncing r in French My old school’s main gate Old lovers (in alphabetical order) Consultants’ concept of customer Kant’s Thing-in-Itself The term Thing-in-Itself The smell of lavender Downward Saturn [End Page 15]

Chung Eun-Gwi

Chung Eun-Gwi was born in 1969 in Kyungju, Korea. She received her doctorate from the Poetics Program at the University at Buffalo (SUNY), and is now an associate professor in the Department of English Literature at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, in Seoul. Among her translated works is the volume Ah! Mouthless Things by Lee Seong-bok. She received a Daesan Foundation Translation Grant for Korean literature and a translation grant from the Korea Literature Translation Institute (KLTI). She has participated in many KLTI projects.

Brother Anthony of Taizé

Brother Anthony of Taizé has published more than thirty volumes of translations of Korean poetry. Recently, he published ten volumes of work by Ko Un, along with volumes by Lee Si-Young and Kim Soo-bok. Born in Cornwall in 1942, he has lived in Korea since 1980 and was naturalized as a Korean citizen in 1994. Brother Anthony has received the Republic of Korea Literary Award (Translation), the Daesan Award for Translation, the Korea PEN Translation Prize, and the Ok-gwan (Jade Crown) Order of Merit for Culture from the Korean government. He is also emeritus professor of English at Sogang University and Chair of the...


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