In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • Untitled Poem 130, and: Untitled Poem 140, and: Untitled Poem 148, and: Untitled Poem 178, and: Untitled Poem 179, and: Untitled Poem 193, and: Untitled Poem 201, and: Untitled Poem 215, and: Untitled Poem 477, and: Untitled Poem 485
  • Ko Un
    Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio) and Lee Sang-Wha (bio)

untitled poem 130

All are animals. Anything, whatever it may be, among all things, and its neutrons, too, are animals. Ah, that empty sky, my lust, is an animal. Those deaths, transcendence of I, are animals.

A snippet from today’s diary.

Plants, too, are animals. Wind, water, or something turns leaves and branches and trunks of trees and even the crown of roots beneath the ground, even the crown of branches above the ground into animals.

Fire, too, is an animal. When something catches fire, the oxygen in the air arrives promptly to keep the fire alive and vigorous.

The world is an animal. The world is a temptation to interrelation, a commitment to relationship, relationship’s fair and unfair trade.

Ah, the unconscious is more of an animal than the conscious. [End Page 114]

Ah, the Persian poet Rumi is an animal. The tether of poetry he speaks of is poetry’s animal. Non-freedom, too, when handcuffs are snapped on, is ultimately an animal of liberation.

The time before I write a poem and the toilet stench after a poem is written are animals, too.

I am indeed antiquity, was a penniless bum in ancient times. Indeed, I was a petty thief in Byeoknando Island in Songdo in the Goryeo Dynasty, who never knew until I died that a Persian barwoman was my mother.

I am more of an animal.

Sleep well, my lovely animal, animals’ ink-like tears.

untitled poem 140

How pitiful the world’s ten thousand years of answers and replies are!

Refuse them as a stone, as a cave.

Reject them as lightning, as moonlight.

Suffer them as a stagnant puddle, as a naked body with shining scars.

The next day, shoot out questions that cannot be answered as a sunspot, as a blind father. [End Page 115]

untitled poem 148

We need a song to sing while walking along. We need a song, not a song on some extravagant stage or in a theater, but three or four of us, several of us, singing together, comforting each other, consoling each other on a weary night road.

We need a song, not the ideological kind, not the military-march kind, but a sad song to sing as we walk along barefoot at night, a little remainder of an old-fashioned custom from our African ancestors.

We need a song for the road, a song we sing walking together, a song like lamenting, like congratulating, like praying most dolefully,

a song of my ancestors and a song of my own, an incantation transmitted over a million years, a song that is river and also fountain.

We need a song which those who were sleeping in some distant village wake up with and listen to with closed eyes while waiting for new sleep to come.

We need a song, a walking song that insects, stars, and dead souls, too, cherish. [End Page 116]

We need a song, a song whose weight, neither low nor high, reaches the light of daybreak. On that side of the song, people sing standing, on this side of the song, people sing in a bar convivially, vigorously.

I will live as a walking song. I will walk along as that song, wanting nothing more for the remaining days, if there are days remaining.

untitled poem 178

While wandering I spent many days in an outdoor theater in a former Greek colony, in that ruin, in the ruins of that ruin.


Before being someone’s home, you are, above all, above all my home.

Ruins of ruins!

You are my mother’s mother’s womb, therefore home is home’s second generation.

untitled poem 179

Stream in the Alps, who would see you on their way?

Stay all on your own, a stream the color of spoiled makgeolli, then a river like the slate-gray complexion of...


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