- Reeds’ Blood, and: The Hill inside the Hill, and: Splendor of Water 4
The reason I like reeds is because they live as if they were dead. And because they sway as if alive when in fact they are dead.
Alive and dead mingled, nicely paired, dead reeds sing in harmony with live ones, live reeds dance holding dead ones in their arms.
Spending whole lifetimes quite distracted, readily accepting separation from their bodies, they laugh as they wave goodbye.
Since they care for each other, they waste no words, no touch of a hand, no shoulder embraced. I want to embrace you, white reed blossoms drifting! You never let anyone see the blood you shed every day.
the hill inside the hill
Inside each hill is another hill. Inside the hill that we can see with our eyes is a living hill that’s hidden. If we climb the hill, we can hear very clearly what the hill is saying. Inside the skin of the rough hill the fragrance of a deep, soft hill. [End Page 105]
If there is no water inside the water, we can’t see ourselves in the water. Even if you went out to the sea alone you would not be able to hear words from far away.
So, inevitably, there is an I inside me, a life smaller than I am, hiding inside me, a soul of words that can be heard when I’m quiet.
splendor of water 4
When I think about how, once I am dead, I will turn into water, sometimes it makes me depressed. When I flow downhill, dissolved in the water of a mountain ditch, I don’t think anyone will recognize my voice inside the babbling that water makes. And even when I have dissolved so completely that I am nothing but water, I won’t yet be clean. But when I become flowing water, the sins I’ve committed will gradually dissolve, too—along with lingering grudges, lonely nights, residual sorrows. All will be washed away, bit by bit, until I am pure water, free of desires. When I am pure water, I will call to you. Look at yourself reflected in the water. Listen attentively for my voice. Joyful, having rid myself of every melodramatic gesture, I’ll confess that I wanted to live with you forever. Then, for the first time you will wholly possess me, mind and body. Do you know what it means for someone to possess someone else entirely? Scoop up the water, wash your hands, moisten your throat. I will slake your thirst when you are weary. I will dissolve within you. I will then have no reason to regret having become water. [End Page 106]
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 a Korean citizen in 1994. Brother Anthony has received the Republic of Korea Literary Award (Translation), the Daesan Award for Translation, the Korea PEN Translation Prize, and the Ok-gwan (Jade Crown) Order of Merit for Culture from the Korean government. He is also emeritus professor of English at Sogang University and Chair of the International Creative Writing Center at Dankook University.