The Snowy Village by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Korea Tourism Corporation

Photography by Korea Tourism Corporation

The Snowy Village by Kim Yong-taek (1948-)

Have you entered a snowy village in the evening?
Have you seen a snowy village
where snow falls from the sky
and the village quietly receives it?
As you enter the village, all the roads of the world end,
even those to the rice paddies and farm fields.
It is useless to turn around to see the road I have traveled.
It lies in white.
Everything is of no use any longer.
The life of no return quietly lies ahead of me, without any roads.
Oh the snow falls, filling the evening sky!
If you look closely and push away the snow,
there is nothing you will not see in this world.
Only the snow that has come to this world after living in the sky carefully descends,
dropping its feet on the dark roofs of this world, with its two eyes closed.

눈 오는 마을/김용택

저녁 눈 오는 마을에 들어서 보았느냐
하늘에서 눈이 내리고
마을이 조용히 그 눈을 다 맞는
눈 오는 마을을 보았느냐
논과 밭과 이 세상에 난 길이란 길들이
마을에 들어서며 조용히 끝나고
내가 걸어온 길도
뒤돌아 볼 것 없다 하얗게 눕는다
이제 아무 것도 더는 소용없다 돌아설 수 없는 삶이
길 없이 내 앞에 가만히 놓인다
저녁 하늘에 가득 오는 눈이여
가만히 눈발을 헤치고 들여다보면
이 세상엔 보이지 않은 것 하나 없다
다만
하늘에서 살다가 이 세상에 온 눈들이 두 눈을 감으며
조심조심 하얀 발을 이 세상 어두운 지붕 위에
내릴 뿐이다

kimyongtaekphotoKim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River, A Clear Day, Sister, The Day Is Getting Dark, The Flower Letter I Miss, Times Like A River, That Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the Mountain, A Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

An Early Winter Letter by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Jiri Mountain; photography by Ha Sung-mok

An Early Winter Letter by Kim Yong-taek

Lovely leaves
have all been shed
from the mountain ahead of me.
Longing for the empty mountain,
white snow
might fall
upon the river.

Before the snow falls,
I would love to see you.

초겨울 편지/ 김용택

앞산에
고운 잎
다 졌답니다
빈 산을 그리며
저 강에
흰눈
내리겠지요

눈 내리기 전에
한번 보고 싶습니다

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River, A Clear Day, Sister, The Day Is Getting Dark, The Flower Letter I Miss, Times Like A River, That Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the Mountain, A Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

Sumjin River: Part Five by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Sumjin River, photography by Bok Hyo-geun

Sumjin River: Part Five by Kim Yong-taek

In this world,
when we feel
our living is parched,
without any sign of subsiding,
go to the riverside at dusk,
gaze at the darkening river
that brings this world in
and takes it away,
dip one end of the dry heart
in the darkening river,
be quenched, and let it go.
After letting go of everything,
without anything left to let go,
only with our poor eyes,
on the dusky river,
will we become alive, little by little,
with our eyes opening like stars
that, as the night deepens,
shine more, alive with longing;
like the few lamps of the heart
that have driven a short wick
deep into the river—
a wick that has no oil left
no matter how much you squeeze–
and have withstood like the dawn
without letting any sparks fly,
washing our eyes
in the dawn river
that brings this world in
and takes it away,
we should live
with eyes of longing,
and stand as one good life
indebted to this earth.

섬진강 5/ 김용택

이 세상
우리 사는 일이
저물 일 하나 없이
팍팍할 때
저무는 강변으로 가
이 세상을 실어오고 실어가는
저무는 강물을 바라보며
팍팍한 마음 한끝을
저무는 강물에 적셔
풀어 보낼 일이다.
버릴 것 다 버리고
버릴 것 하나 없는
가난한 눈빛 하나로
어둑거리는 강물에
가물가물 살아나
밤 깊어질수록
그리움만 남아 빛나는
별빛같이 눈떠 있고,
짜내도 짜내도
기름기 하나 없는
짧은 심지 하나
강 깊은 데 박고
날릴 불티 하나 없이
새벽같이 버티는
마을 등불 몇 등같이
이 세상을 실어오고 실어가는
새벽 강물에
눈곱을 닦으며,
우리 이렇게
그리운 눈동자로 살아
이 땅에 빚진
착한 목숨 하나로
우리 서 있을 일이다.

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River, A Clear Day, Sister, The Day Is Getting Dark, The Flower Letter I Miss, Times Like A River, That Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the Mountain, A Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

Gwangju, Our Love by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Gwangju, Our Love by Kim Yong-taek (1948- )

Gwangju, our love,
that does not freeze
even during dictatorship’s biting winter,
where snow does not accumulate
though it is dumped like bullets–
here living water gushes with steam.

우리 사랑 광주/ 김용택

엄동 같은 독재에도 얼지 않고
총알처럼 눈 퍼부어도
눈 쌓이지 않는
생수 솟는 김나는 샘
우리 사랑 광주.

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River, A Clear Day, Sister, The Day Is Getting Dark, The Flower Letter I Miss, Times Like A River, That Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the Mountain, A Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

A Spring Day by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won

A Spring Day by Kim Yong-taek

If you are looking for me,
and all you find is a hoe covered with soil
in the kitchen garden,

just know that I have gone
to admire plum blossoms,
following the spring water of the Sumjin River,
holding a lovely woman’s hand.

봄날/김용택

나 찾다가
텃밭에
흙 묻은 호미만 있거든

예쁜 여자랑 손잡고
섬진강 봄물을 따라서
매화꽃 보러 간 줄 알그라.

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River,A Clear Day, Sister, The Day Is Getting Dark, The Flower Letter I Miss, Times Like A River, That Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the Mountain, A Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

You are so lovely by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Photography by Hye Hyon

You are so lovely by Kim Yong-taek

On a spring day
because of your love
I saw the pleasing sight of sunlight shining
into my shadowy backyard.

Out of darkness to the fireside of love
you gently called me,
and smiled as purely as a wildflower,
standing in front of me in the bright, shining light
that only someone who has passed through darkness can make.

Ah,
just to think of you–
you
are
so
lovely.

참 좋은 당신/ 김용택

어느 봄날
당신의 사랑으로
응달지던 내 뒤란에
햇빛이 들이치는 기쁨을 나는 보았습니다

어둠 속에서 사랑의 불가로
나를 가만히 불러내신 당신은
어둠을 건너온 자만이 만들 수 있는
밝고 환한 빛으로 내 앞에 서서
들꽃처럼 깨끗하게 웃었지요

아,
생각만 해도

좋은
당신

(Anne Rashid and Melanie Steyn read the earlier versions of this translation.)

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River,A Clear DaySister, The Day Is Getting DarkThe Flower Letter I MissTimes Like A RiverThat Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the MountainA Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.

Camellia at Seonun Temple by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song

Painted by Kang Jong-rae

Camellia at Seonun Temple by Kim Yong-taek

Rejected by a woman,
I crossed barefoot
the icy gully of Seonun Temple,
biting my teeth
at the freezing water that ached my feet,
Telling myself
I will not cry again
I will not cry again
just because of that love,
just because of that woman,
I hid my tears.
But when I went to the backyard of Seonun Temple
with its camellias bursting red,
I wailed.

선운사 동백꽃김용택

여자에게 버림 받고
살얼음 낀 선운사 도랑물을
맨발로 건너며
발이 아리는 시린 물에
이 악물고
그까짓 사랑 때문에
그까짓 여자 때문에
다시는 울지말자
다시는 울지말자
눈물을 감추다가
동백꽃 붉게 터지는
선운사 뒤안에 가서
엉엉 울었다.

(Darcy Brandel and Melanie Steyn read the earlier versions of this translation.)

Kim Yong-taek (1948- ) was born in Imsil, Jeollabuk-do. With lyrical (often regional) vernacular, he has written many poems about undamaged agricultural communities and the profound beauty of nature. His poetry collections include The Sumjin River,A Clear DaySister, The Day Is Getting DarkThe Flower Letter I MissTimes Like A RiverThat Woman’s House, and Your Daring Love. He also published essay collections such as A Small Village,What’s Longed for Exists behind the MountainA Story of the Sumjin River, and Follow the Sumjin River and Watch. He was awarded the Kim Soo-young Literary Award (1986) and the Sowol Poetry Award (1997). He currently teaches at Woonam Elementary School.