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

  • A Poem That Came Easily
  • Tongju Yun (bio)
    Translated by Kay Richards (bio) and Steffen Richards (bio)

Yun Tongju was born in north Kando, in northeastern Manchuria in 1918. He went to YoŭnhŬi College (now Yonsei University) in Seoul and then to Doshisha University in Kyoto. Arrested by the Japanese in 1943, he was imprisoned in Fukuoka prison, where he died in 1945, possibly a victim of medical experimentation. His one collection, HanŬl kwa param kwa pyoŭl kwa si (Sky, wind, stars, and poetry), was published posthumously in 1948 and continues to be extraordinarily popular. Yun Tongju remains a heroic figure in Korean literature.

The night rain whispers outside the window of my six-mat room, in an alien country. The poet has a sad vocation, I know; should I write another line of poetry? Having received my tuition from home in an envelope soaked with the smell of sweat and love, I tuck my college notebook under my arm and go off to listen to the lecture of an old professor. Looking back, I see that I have lost my childhood friends: one and two at a time—all of them. What was it that I was hoping for, and why am I simply sinking to the bottom alone? [End Page 116] Life is meant to be difficult: it is too bad that a poem comes so easily to me. My six-mat room in an alien country: the night rain whispers outside the window. I light the lamp to drive out the darkness a little, and I, in my last moments, wait for the morning, which will come like a new era. Extending a small hand to myself, I offer myself the very first handshake, tears, and condolences.

Tongju Yun

Yun Tongju was born in north Kando, in northeastern Manchuria in 1918. He went to Yŏnhŭi College (now Yonsei University) in Seoul and then to Doshisha University in Kyoto. Arrested by the Japanese in 1943, he was imprisoned in Fukuoka prison, where he died in 1945, possibly a victim of medical experimentation. His one collection, Hanŭl kwa param kwa pyŏl kwa si (Sky, wind, stars, and poetry), was published posthumously in 1948 and continues to be extraordinarily popular. Yun Tongju remains a heroic figure in Korean literature.

Kay Richards

Kay Richards is the coordinator of the Korean-language program in the department of East Asian languages and cultures at the University of California at Berkeley. She is a charter member of the American Association of Teachers of Korean and has translated Korean literature into English, and Korean American writing into Korean. In 1996, she received the top prize in the poetry division of the Modern Korean Translation Contest, sponsored by the Korea Times. Her essays and poetry have appeared in U.S. and Korean journals.

Steffen Richards

Steffen Richards lives in Berkeley, California.

...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 116-117
Launched on MUSE
2006-08-03
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.