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  • Five Poems from Distance (1996)
  • Lee Si-Young (bio)
    Translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé (bio) and Yoo Hui-sok (bio)

A Dried Fish

There's been something wrong with you lately.What on earth have you done with your body?This morning you brazenly failed to turn up in time for a meeting,didn't even have your glasses on.

What?We should live with one side of our souls totally emptied out?That's the only way we can hear the birds singingand the angry voice of last night's spirits?

Why, indeed.Just so,maybe you're right.But what are you up to, now?Where's your body?That once so nimble, dried-up soul? [End Page 167]


One morning after I'd dreamed a dreamless dreamheavy snow had fallen:a couple of early-morning magpies seem to have already walked there,two pale blue lines of silk-like footprints leading endlessly away.


The drizzling rain soaks the roadside trees.An old man was crossing the street, holding upan oiled-paper umbrella, just like in the old days.Desolation. [End Page 168]

Risky Abode

A few sparrows alight on one trifling branch.Bending, the tree finds the earth's center anew.An armful of wind comes blowing past; the branch trembles.The sparrows' little eyes shift brisklyand dark night soon descends on them.

Evening Hours

Once I used to think that I ought to take responsibility for the whole world in some area or other. That was how it was in those days. There were battles and struggles in solidarity, day in and day out; wounds spread across our angry brows. I am sorry, but that's how my youth flowed away.

But nowadays, across the park where cicadas are singing shrilly, I find myself standing in a time of shadows where I eat lunch alone and supper alone. Nowadays no one talks of the beauties of solidarity, and nobody says he'll take responsibility for this complicated world.

Evening hours come to me so quietly. [End Page 169]

Lee Si-Young

Lee Si-Young (Yi Si-Yong), born in Kurye, South Chŏlla Province in 1949, began publishing poetry in 1969, and his first volume Manwol (Full moon) appeared in 1976. Since his second book, Param sokŭro (Into the wind, 1986), he has published many volumes of poetry. He received the Sorabol Literature Prize, the Jŏng Ji-Yong Literature Award, and the Paek Sŏk Award.

Brother Anthony of Taizé

Brother Anthony of Taizé was born in England in 1942 and completed studies in medieval and modern languages at Oxford. He is a member of the Community of Taizé and has been living in Korea since 1980, where he taught medieval and renaissance English literature at Sogang University (Seoul) for many years. More than twenty volumes of his English translations of modern Korean literature have been published. A Korean national, his Korean name is An Sonjae.

Yoo Hui-sok

Yoo Hui-sok is professor of English education at Chonnam University, South Korea. In addition to Korean literature, his major field of research is nineteenth-century American and English literature. He has published a wide variety of articles on twentieth-century Korean literature and American writers.