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Manoa 14.2 (2002-2003) 97

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When That Day Comes

Sim Hun

[Lost Names]

When that day comes
Mount Samgak will rise and dance,
the waters of Han will rise up.

If that day comes before I perish,
I will soar like a crow at night
and pound the Chongno bell with my head.
The bones of my skull
will scatter, but I shall die in joy.

When that day comes at last
I'll roll and leap and shout on the
and if joy still stifles within my breast
I'll take a knife

and skin my body and make
a magical drum and march with it
in the vanguard. O procession!
Let me once hear that thundering
my eyes can close then.

Sim Hun was born in Seoul in 1904. While still a high-school student, he participated in the March 1, 1919, independence demonstration and was arrested by the Japanese police and imprisoned for four months. Later, he went to China to attend Zhijiang University. When he returned to Korea, he worked as a newspaper reporter and composed poetry. In "When That Day Comes," he mentions the great fifteenth-century Chongno bell. Located in Seoul's P'agoda Park, the bell was associated with the March first demonstration, and in this poem, Sim imagines it clanging loudly on the day that Korea at last regains its freedom. He died in 1937, eight years before Korea's liberation.


Translation by Peter H. Lee



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