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  • Selected PoemsYŏnjudae, Woman Diver, Snow, Bright Soil, Earth and Bacteria, The Tank’s Departure, Storm Cloud—1927, Map, You’re Still Young, Hyŏnhaet’an, September 12th, Song of the Liberation Soldier, March 1st Is Coming, Where Are You Now?
  • Im Hwa
    Translated by Kevin Michael Smith (bio)


Yajugae's roasted chestnut vendorspiritedly boilingAeogae's dumpling vendorhooray hooray!My body in Kwachŏn, Kwanakin Yŏnjudaemy heart is unearthedhooray hooray!

Ducklings in a cattail fieldquack quackA pheasant in a young pine groveflutter flutterMy body is Guanyin Bodhisattvain Yŏnjudaewhile I tap my fingersflutter flutter

(Tonga ilbo, 12.8.1924) [End Page 231]

Woman Diver

Wind rustling through a reed fieldtoday came with a westerlytomorrow at the shorea whirlwind

Last night what dreams I sawin the barley field a bachelor's dreamtomorrow to the mud flatsand early to sleep I go

(Tonga ilbo, 12.15.1924) [End Page 232]


The sunis forever escapinga blizzard on the streets—    a storm—God's name written on a signpostis buried in an instantit won't be seen againAh—a blizzard  a storm it isthe moon's weight unanchored,it drifts across the skya tree's tranquil shadowis suddenly stirred—darkness—commotion—stormThe compasses' needlescannot recalibrate direction —isat this time—on the frozen pondbetween the clefts of heaved icean eye is an eye is an Eye … …sparklingthreateningthe future of the fish speciesan eyeball is—   —(Winter)

(Chosŏn ilbo, 1.2.1927) [End Page 233]

Bright Soil

Caught by many fangsand though it is naked, crimson earth long worn outit is holy land in which the skulls of ancestors are buriedinherited from generation to generationEven if it is rotten land, indefinitely ruggedthis here is our sprout endlessly whisperingthe most sacred sound of breathing in the ears of the youthsClearly it is muttering somethingSilently, not speaking, without restBut—anyone who even begins to assume thisis only stupid and foolishwith an insect-like mouth, unable to properly speak a single wordDonning filthy white robes, the staggering people of my countrywhom I long to see, there is only themO! And yetthough they all are like this, ugly and impoverished friendsthey are my compatriots, aged owners of this bright soil sharing blood and flesh with me—They are my Chosŏn people

(Chosŏn ilbo, 1.2.1927) [End Page 234]

Earth and Bacteria

The air pressure drops and the stylus joltsan observation post attendant wearing glasses with the  wrong prescriptionhangs a white flag called "Clear Skies" on the flagpole

However an errand boy using his own eyeswhen 2 or 3 minutes later rain gushes down will scramble around  looking for a red flag to raise  ▶The news that that office clerk died on the spot from the pesthas already leaked from the observation post —by road            ▶ penetrating the universe —by fields and mountainsspeeding—expandingHowever with the flag still hung round his neck the errand boy  dances wildly inside a wooden crate  Rain ● Wind    Hissing—undoubtedly snatched the errand boy back to the officeThe pest—the boy knew it was a great thing  ▶A low-pressure system and the pest—Inside the pallid coffin too the loyal office worker willnot only definitely think of but also definitely find_____________If so the boy could not not hoist the flagInstead he put the white flag inside the coffin on the lying    man's chest—to give the deceased a bit of comfort[End Page 235] "Ha! For forty years the first mistake wasa low-pressure system and the pest," laughed the errand boy out  the windowBacteria Bacteria—its power is great—its power is greatIt gobbles down one life per minutein 1.6 billion minutes—well the time conversion is bothersome= the earth is cold= the earth is coldBacteria embraces the earth and roars...