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someone said

Someone said: if the leaves fall off the trees and press their lips to the ground, it is so that they may be reborn as seedlings, so that the rainbow of their bodies will appear again.

Someone said: if a grain of wheat does not fall to the ground and decompose, it will remain a single grain of wheat, unable to bring to life the fragrance of the wind over the field.

Someone said: if the hill back home, despite time’s passing, spreads out the wide sky and stays there, it’s because the songs of birds that have not yet returned still linger in its ears.

Someone said: if we lean against one another, and form a forest as we go on living, it’s because there is still a dawn we have to sing.

Someone said: if a flowing river gives its body to the evening sea, it’s because it can hear tales of love that the evening sea cannot quite hear, and because the sea knows more tales than the hill could finish,

because someone is still telling them. [End Page 63]

winter forest

Now my body has become a winter forest, my youthful flesh has fallen away, like leaves that have fallen and will not return. The wind blows through the bones inside the trees. At the ends of my branches that are once-loved memories, evening has begun to lay its colors. Someone is looking down upon me. Now I have sent away everything that once dwelt inside my body, and as I gaze into the hollow void inside me, the stars I used to think beautiful slip away— and the eyes of people I once loved, now pale-green leaves, the enmities inhabiting narrow alleys—all those things slip away. But someone is still looking down upon me, saying: the struggle is not over yet. As the distant evening glow enters my body I am standing, empty and glowing. My torn body still upright and shining.

the sea

  Barbed Wire Poems 1

At last Hwaseong’s Jeongok port has reopened. Rusty barbed wire had been wound all round it but now the wire has been removed so that international boat races can be held. Now the port is open, the tide rises, in the evening the tide ebbs and beyond it the sun sets.

A poet tried to sing of the setting sun escaping over the distant sea beyond the barbed wire but said his eyes stung and so he slept fitfully. Facing the evening that sings of peace, ships launched out to sea, the sun goes down into the darkened eyes of the barbed wire winding around all, unable to sing of the long evening after dark. [End Page 64]

The bone that was long ago driven into my body is being caught   again. I am driving the rusty bone, once wrapped all round my body, deep into the twilight mudflats. I am driving in deep the song within me that can cherish long the setting sun. Until those fragmented songs become the sun and rise again within my body.


  Barbed Wire Poems 2

Since I have received such a great blessing I will now become a poor barbed-wire entanglement.

I will hide my face, shy even of the wind’s breath. I will tell the stars emerging inside me to rise lower.

I will throw a stone at the clouds and tell them to shut their mouths.

I will send water to divided lands and make them one.

Since I have committed such a great sin I will slash my entire body,

cut out my tongue, hang it on the twilight as the sun is setting. [End Page 65]

Brother Anthony of Taizé

Brother Anthony of Taizé has published more than thirty volumes of translations of Korean poetry. Recently, he published ten volumes of work by Ko Un, along with volumes by Lee Si-Young and Kim Soo-bok. Born in Cornwall in 1942, he has lived in Korea since 1980 and was naturalized as...


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