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  • Falling Persimmons
  • Chŏn Pyŏng-gu (bio)
    Translated by Chae-Pyong Song (bio)

On the hill of Kwansan port, overgrown with weeds,Where the dividing line crosses,Hoo-doo-dook, Hoo-doo-dook,Falling Persimmons.

Where only the house remains, its owner gone,A persimmon tree already for many yearsHas been solely ripening persimmons,And dropping them without sympathy.

If I reach out a hand, I could quickly pickone red, juicy persimmon,But the barbed wire that pierces the heartBlocks even one step.

The piteous persimmon tree,You too suffer the pain of division.When will you summon the owner?When will the day come when he, riding on your branches, willPick out persimmons with pleasure? [End Page 193]

With the wedding celebration tableNeatly piled with those appealing persimmonsThis village's lasses, they say,Went to P'aju, across the Imjin River, to their grooms;Their faces, red like persimmons,Must be deeply wrinkled by now.

Where are the brides of those days?Though I search beyond the river, I can't see them.The red persimmons that I could embrace only in dreams,Hoo-doo-dook, Hoo-doo-dook.

They strike this heart;They strike this peninsula,Crying for the owner, crying for unification.Hoo-doo-dook, Hoo-doo-dook. Ah, the falling persimmons. [End Page 194]

Chŏn Pyŏng-gu

Chŏn Pyŏng-gu has written poems that attempt to capture ordinary lives in North Korea. "A Birthday Table" is one example.

Chae-Pyong Song

Chae-Pyong Song is an associate professor of English at Marygrove College in Detroit, Michigan. He has published articles on modern fiction, as well as translations of Korean poetry and fiction, and coordinates the Master of Arts in English program.