restricted access Evening Glow, and: On the Frontline, and: Thus Spoke the Himalayas, and: Bat
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Evening Glow, and: On the Frontline, and: Thus Spoke the Himalayas, and: Bat
Translated by Kim Jong-Gil (bio)

evening glow

A glow lingers above a starving village, A fine and beautiful evening glow.

Not a shred of smoke rises from the houses Where the old and young go early to bed, exhausted.

With nothing to eat, there is nothing to do. The women also watch, with me, the lovely glow.

Since there are officials, governors, primates as always, Haughty as ever—

But like a gift from heaven The glow lingers above a voiceless people. [End Page 161]

on the frontline


Groans, curses, grumbles, shouts—at this roadside spot, sheltered by the edge of a terrain, a cacophony of howling guns and rifles rages across the five-mile width of Greengrass Lake.

As the dusk, pregnant with impending death, descends on all sides with deceiving peacefulness, the whispering, stealing bullets ravage the mulberry leaves above my body, sprawling like a snake, while the scarlet traces of the infinitely beautiful trajectories of lightballs weave and trail among the leaves of broomcorn. Some of the bullets even drop on the leaves before my eyes, like corn for chickens.


What then do they demand of me—those invisible but tenacious enemies who are surrounding and aiming at me in multitudes? Is it my limbs?


I do not, at this moment, feel the slightest hate and anger toward my enemies. Rather my mind drifts, perfectly serene, like ripples on a pond. I, too, aim at myself in an incomparably delicate position where a one-millimeter miss would mean my instant death.


What do my enemies really demand of me? My life? My life is no more than a hypothesis formulated by an agreement between me and my so-called body, but I do not quite know to whom this body, which I presume to call mine, belongs. It seems, however, not to have belonged to the bullets that ravaged the mulberry leaves overhead and dropped like corn.


The moment, therefore, when some Absolute Being suddenly appears, claiming its right, the agreement will expire and the hypothesis—my life—will vanish into the air, spinning like a dragonfly without a tail, leaving I know not what on the ground... [End Page 162]


Is it then my limbs, groaning enemies, that you are stupidly demanding? At that instant, I shall no longer be here, having been restored and returned to eternity.

thus spoke the himalayas

Only those who think can endure This massive loneliness; Eternity is that which perceives And yet rejects all.

Oh, the sheet of blue, the end of end, That we have watched from the beginning! Surviving from the momentary roars of creation, We greet the first dawns and dusks of the world.

You who shout, “Eli, eli, eli,” Leave the mankind you’ve failed to lead, Come and stand with us here, Frozen in this lonely eternity.


Originally you were a crawling beast; what loathsome things obliged you to avoid the earth and daytime, to hide beneath the dark damp roof of a ruined house, to make yourself lean with fantasies and strange dreams, to put forth two wings and steal out on blue moonlit nights to dance your sorrowful dance all alone? [End Page 163]

Kim Jong-Gil

Kim Jong-gil is one of Korea’s leading twentieth-century poets and a prolific translator of many of the most important contemporary British and American poets into Korean, as well as of many Korean poets into English. His recent books of translation include Among the Flowering Reeds: Classic Korean Poems Written in Chinese. Kim is an emeritus professor of English at Korea University, in Seoul, and a member of the Korean Academy of Arts.