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  • Separation Poems
  • Translated by David Krolikoski (bio)

1. Kim So-wŏl

Azaleas

(Azaleas [Chindallaekkot], 1925)

If the sight of meSickens youI shall send you away in silence

From Mount Yak in YŏngbyŏnI pick an armful ofAzaleasTo toss over the path you shall travel

Step by stepYou will flatten those flowersLightly as you go

If the sight of meSickens youI shall not shed a tear as you leave [End Page 237]

To My Beloved

(Azaleas [Chindallaekkot], 1925)

It is not that I did not forgo sleepSpending countless days in your thoughtsEven now, there are dreams by my pillowDamped by memories of you

A stranger in the crossroads of another worldI am but twenty as the sun plaintively setsWandering through a field, the night dark and blackI nurse a sorrow you have forgotten

When I picture you to this dayThere are dreams by my pillowDampened by tears on the sand amid rainI nurse a sorrow you have forgotten [End Page 238]

2. Han Yong-un

I Saw You

(The Silence of Love [Nim ŭi ch'immuk], 1926)

After you left I have been unable to forget you.The reason why has more to do with me than you.

There is no harvest because I have no land to till and seed.No dinner to eat, I went to a neighbor's house in search of millet or    potatoes, and the owner said to me, "A beggar has no character.    A person without character is not a person. To help you would    be a crime."Through the tears that flowed upon returning home after hearing    those words, I saw you.

I have no home, and for other reasons, no family register.There was once a general, who sought to ravish me and said, "A    person without a register has no rights. What is chastity to you    who has no rights?"I saw you after defying him, in the instant when my anger toward    others was transformed into personal grief.Ah, I once thought all the morals, ethics, and laws were but the    smoke of a ritual carried out for swords and gold.I saw you as I hesitated, wondering if I should receive eternal love, lay    ink upon the first page of human history, or take a sip of wine. [End Page 239]

The Silence of Love

(The Silence of Love [Nim ŭi ch'immuk], 1926)

My beloved is gone. Oh, my beloved, whom I love, is gone.Sundering the blue mountain light, they walked along the small path    that faces the forest of autumn leaves, and tore themselves away.An old promise, once hard and bright as a golden flower, now a    cold speck of dust, was carried off by a sigh of light wind.The sharp memory of our first kiss set the compass of my fate, then    withdrew and disappeared.I have become deaf by my beloved's fragrant voice, blind by my    beloved's flower-like face.As love too is an affair of people, upon meeting, we fear and are    wary of farewells, but separation occurs in an instant, and the    stunned heart tears upon newfound sadness.But knowing that to turn our farewell into a source of hopeless    tears is to destroy love by my own hand, I took the unruly power    of sadness and poured it into the summit of new hope.Just as we fear separation when we meet, I believe we will meet    again when we are apart.Oh, my beloved is gone, but I did not send them away.The song of love, unable to overcome its melody, wanders,    surrounding my beloved's silence. [End Page 240]

The Ferry and the Passenger

(The Silence of Love [Nim ŭi ch'immuk], 1926)

I am a ferry.You are my passenger.

You trample me with soiled feet.I hold you as I cross the water.As long as I hold you, no matter how deep or...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6500
Print ISSN
1939-6120
Pages
pp. 237-243
Launched on MUSE
2020-05-20
Open Access
No
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