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  • Seven Sijo Poems
  • Cho Oh-hyun (bio)
    Translated by Heinz Insu Fenkl (bio)

들오리와 그림자

해장사 해장스님께산일 안부를 물었더니어제는 서별당 연못에들오리가 놀다 가고오늘은 산수유 그림자만잠겨 있다, 하십니다

Wild Ducks & Shadow

When I ask him—Master Haejang,hero of the hangover drink—for tidings of the mountain temple,he says, Yesterday the wild ducksthat played in the West Star lotus pondwent away, and now, today, onlythe shadow of the dogwood remains [End Page 169]

비슬산 가는 길

비슬산 굽잇길을 누가 돌아가는 걸까나무들 세월 벗고 구름 비껴 섰는 골을푸드득 하늘 가르며 까투리가 나는 걸까

거문고 줄 아니어도 밟고 가면 운(韻) 들릴까끊일듯 이어진 길 이어질 듯 끊인 연(緣)을싸락눈 매운 향기가 옷자락에 지는 걸까

절은 또 먹물 입고 눈을 감고 앉았을까만첩첩(萬疊疊) 두루 적막(寂寞) 비워 둬도 좋을 것을지금쯤 멧새 한 마리 깃 떨구고 가는 걸까

The Way to Pisŭl Mountain

Who is that returning on the winding road to Mt. Pisŭl,past the trees all stripped of time, the cloud-covered gorges below?Is it a pheasant that splits the sky with its fluttering wings?

No kŏmungo strings, but if you tread there, won't you hear the rhyme?The road is spliced—as if to break—cut precipices—extending:is that scent the spice of hail grains soaked into your clothes?

Does the temple sit, eyes shut, cloaked again in the inky dark?Just as well to be tucked away, in isolation, obscure.That lone bird, about now, does it drop a feather as it goes? [End Page 170]

내가 나를 바라보니

무금선원에 앉아내가 나를 바라보니

기는 벌레 한 마리가몸을 폈다 오그렸다가

온갖 것 다 갉아먹으며배설하고알을 슬기도 한다

As I Look upon Myself

Sitting, in the meditation hall,I look upon myself—

a single bug crawling bystretches its body, contracts it;

gnawing at all manner of things,it evacuates, butalso does lay its eggs. [End Page 171]


아무리 어두운 세상을 만나 억눌려 산다 해도쓸모없을 때는 버림을 받을지라도나 또한 긴 역사의 궤도를 바친한 토막 침목인 것을, 연대인 것을

영원한 고향으로 끝내 남아 있어야 할태백산 기슭에서 썩어가는 그루터기여사는 날 지축이 흔들리는 진동도 있는 것을

보아라, 살기 위하여 다만 살기 위하여얼마만큼 진실했던 뼈들이 부러졌는가를얼마나 많은 사람들이 파묻혀 사는가를

비록 그게 군림에 의한 노역일지라도자칫 붕괴할 것만 같은 내려앉은 이 지반을끝끝내 받쳐온 이 있어하늘이 있는 것을, 역사가 있는 것을 [End Page 172]

Rail Ties

However dark the life you've met with, however dark the world,Though you may be oppressed and cast off when your use is done,I know: You are yet a foundation of history's long road,Single rail ties cut from wood, one by one, a collective age,

You will remain till the end in your eternal place of birth,Old stumps, rotting away at the foot of the Taebaek Mountains.I am living—see the tremors shake me to the very core—

Look! It was to survive, all of it was just to stay alive!That is why the bones —in which we put such faith—were broken;That is how so many live, though they be buried in the dirt.

Perhaps it was hard labor under the rule of tyranny,But this sunken base, on the verge of immanent collapse,

Bears meaning until the very end—That the sky exists, that there is such a thing as history. [End Page 173]


강물도 없는 강물 흘러가게 해 놓고

강물도 없는 강물 범람하게 해 놓고

강물도 없는 강물에 떠내려가는 떳목다리


Having let it flow—the water of the waterless riverHaving let it flood—the water of the waterless riverIn the water of the waterless river, a log bridge floats away [End Page 174]


밤늦도록 불경을 보다가밤하늘을 바라보다가

먼 바다 울음소리를흘로 듣노라면

천경千經 그 만론萬論이 모두바람에 이는 파도란다


Reading the sutras deep into the night,    I look up at the dark night sky,Listen, all alone, to the cry    of the distant sea—The 1,000 sutras, the 10,000 treatises,    all but waves blown in the wind. [End Page 175]

내가 죽어 보는 날

부음訃音을 받는 날은 내가 죽어 보는 날이다

널 하나 짜서 눈 감고 누워도 보고

화장장 아궁이와 푸른 연기 뼛가루도 뿌려본다

The Day I Try Dying

The day I get the death notice    I try dying myself—Build a coffin, close my eyes,    lie down inside;Sprinkle blue-smoke ashes    from the oven of the crematorium. [End Page 176]

Cho Oh-hyun

Master Cho Oh-hyun was born in 1932 in Miryang in South Kyŏngsang Province. He has lived in the mountains since he became a novice monk at the age of seven. Living in the mountains, he does not perceive them, nor does he listen to the sounds of the outside world; and yet over the years he has written over a hundred poems, including many in sijo form. In 2007 he received the Chŏng Chiyong Literary Award for his book Distant Holy Man. He is currently in retreat at Paekdamsa Temple at Mt. Sŏraksan.

Heinz Insu Fenkl

Heinz Insu Fenkl, born in 1960 in Pup'yŏng, is a novelist, translator, and editor. His autobiographical novel, Memories of My Ghost Brother, was named a Barnes and Noble "Discover Great New Writers" selection in 1996 and a PEN/Hemingway Award finalist in 1997. He has also published short fiction in a variety of journals and magazines, as well as numerous articles on folklore and myth. His most recent work is Cathay: translations and transformations, which includes his own fiction as well as T'ang poetry and the...


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