Some very popular Korean poems

 

             Submission  by Manhae Han Yong-Un (Translated by Francisca Cho)

 

Others love their freedom, but I prefer submission.

Its not that I dont know freedom.

I just want to submit to you.

Willing submission is sweeter than exalted freedom.

 

If you tell me to submit to someone else,

thats the only thing to which I cant submit.

If I submit to someone else, I cant submit to you.

 

 

 

Azaleas  by Kim So-wŏl

 

When seeing me sickens you

and you walk out

I'll send you off without a word, no fuss.

 

Yongbyon's mount Yaksan's

azaleas

by the armful I'll scatter in your path.

 

With parting steps

on those strewn flowers

treading lightly, go on, leave.

 

When seeing me sickens you

and you walk out

why, I'd rather die than weep one tear.

 

 

 

Beside a chrysanthemum  by Midang Sŏ Chŏng-ju

 

For one chrysanthemum to bloom

a nightingale

has sobbed since spring, perhaps.

 

For one chrysanthemum to bloom

thunder

has pealed in dark clouds, perhaps.

 

Flower! Like my sister standing

at her mirror, just back

from far away, far away byways of youth,

where she was racked with longing and lack:

 

last night's frost came down

to bid your yellow petals bloom, perhaps,

while I could not get to sleep.

 

 

 

Grass  by Kim Su-yŏng

 

The grass is lying flat.

Fluttering in the east wind that brings rain in its train,

the grass lay flat

and at last it wept.

As the day grew cloudier, it wept even more

and lay flat again.

 

The grass is lying flat.

It lies flat more quickly than the wind.

It weeps more quickly than the wind.

It rises more quickly than the wind.

 

The day is cloudy, the grass is lying flat.

It lies low as the ankles

low as the feet.

Though it lies flat later than the wind,

it rises more quickly than the wind

and though it weeps later than the wind,

it laughs more quickly than the wind.

The day is cloudy, the grass's roots are lying flat.

 

 

Flower  by Kim Chun-su

 

Before I spoke his name

he was simply

one set of gestures, nothing more.

 

Then I spoke his name,

he came to me

and became a flower.

 

Just as I spoke his name,

I hope that someone will speak my name,

one right for my color and perfume.

I long to go to him

and become his flower.

 

We all of us

long to become something.

You for me, and I for you,

we long to become a never-to-be-forgotten gaze.

 

 

 

Back to Heaven  by Chŏn Sang-pyŏng

 

I'll go back to heaven again.

Hand in hand with the dew

that melts at a touch of the dawning day,

 

I'll go back to heaven again.

With the dusk, together, just we two,

at a sign from a cloud after playing on the slopes

 

I'll go back to heaven again.

At the end of my outing to this beautiful world

I'll go back and say: It was beautiful. . . .

 

 

 

Mokkye Market by Shin Kyŏng-Nim

 

The sky urges me to turn into a cloud,

the earth urges me to turn into a breeze,

a little breeze waking weeds on the ferry landing

once storm clouds have scattered and rain has cleared.

To turn into a peddler sad even in autumn light,

going to Mokkye Ferry, three days' boat ride from Seoul,

to sell patent face-powders, on days four and nine.

The hills urge me to turn into a meadow flower,

the stream urges me to turn into a stone.

To hide my face in the grass when hoarfrost bites,

to wedge behind rocks when rapids rage cruel.

To turn into a traveller with pack laid by, resting

on a clay hovel's wood step, river shrimps boiling up,

changed into a fool for a week or so, once in thrice three years.

The sky urges me to turn into a breeze,

the hills urge me to turn into a stone.

 

 

 

Today  by Ku Sang 

 

Today again I confront a day that is source of mystery.

 

In this day the past, present and future are one,

just as each drop of water in that river

is linked to a tiny spring in some mountain valley

and linked to the distant, azure sea.

 

In that way, in this today of mine, being linked to eternity,

at this very moment I am living that eternity.

 

That means that it is not after I have died

but from today on that I must live eternity,

must live a life worthy of eternity.

 

I must live in poverty of heart.

I must live with an empty heart.