Born in Korea in 1930, Park Ynhui(Pak In-hu˘¨i) spent many years abroad. After receiving a doctorate in French literature from the Sorbonne in 1964, he went on to take a second doctorate, in philosophy, at the University of Southern California in 1970. From 1968 he taught in New York and Boston, until his retirement in 1993. Since then he has returned to Korea and teaches philosophy at Pohang University of Science and Technology. He writes his name in English as Park Ynhui, but in Korea he publishes under the pen name Park Yeemun.
He has published widely, mainly books and papers on philosophical topics in both French and English. He published four volumes of poetry in Korean: The Snow on the Charles River (1979), Dream of a Butterfly (1981), The Shadows of the Invisible (1987) and Resonances of the Void (1989) and in 1999 has published his own poetry in English, Broken Words, from which the following poems are taken. He has written of his own work:A poem can do many things. It can bring knowledge; it can induce emotion; it can function as a decorative element in which it means. It can represent, describe and express something or feeling. It can move us, amuse us, please us. But these functions are secondary. The fundamental function of poetry is neither congnitive nor emotive, but 'aesthetic'. It consists in overcoming the tension between reality and language, between plenitude and void, between sense and nonsense in and through linguistic means. The subjects of a poem can be man, nature, society, and politics. But these subjects are superficial. The fundamental subject of a poem is 'cosmic existential emotion'. The intention of a poem can be ideological, moral and political. But the ultimate intention of a poem is 'metaplysical and religious.'
the whole thing is absurd
I am absurd,
if I think it all over
the vast void
we all go somewhere
which is nowhere
we are not necessarily unhappy
but still empty deep down like a straw
we all strive only to make nonsens out of some sense invisible
A Poetic Transfiguration
I was suddenly awakened to see
everything in the world transformed into words, to understand
the whole universe as nothing but
a cosmic poem.
A Poet's Confession
All my life I have searched for words
for these things in-between the sense and the nonsense.
But my God! I can not find them, still;
I have invented in vain.
atop the arid hill's precipice
in the nowhere of the flat plain, desolate and vast,
I admire your frame, your endurance, your dignity,
and your presence more real than reality.
Cathedral, Palace, El Greco and
narrow stone-paved streets
weaving the medieval capital village
behind the walled city
strong like a burning desert,
transparent like the Sun over the blue sky
in the early autumn,
a stranger, I adore the beauty of your empty remains,
and your hollow triumph.
Emperors, Kings, Knights
and the Slaves, their Gods and their worshipers,
their pride, their humiliation, and their victory and death.
but there childern's children and nameless tourists are gone
without trace of blood, without
names and memries.
In nowhere in the middle of Spain,
I live the greatness of pointless beauty in the presence of the frozen past.
And in my pensive stare at this fairy-tale city.
no single munutc has been wasted.
I have wandered and wandering,
through and through, like a cloud
I have wondered and wondering
still and still, like a star
A Flight Over the Alps
white, blue and dark articulation of the Earth.
in a small big 747,
beyond the ocean of white clouds!
A lone planet in the Universe,
a single air-craft over the mountains,
And a thinking species in the machine.