Epitaph in the Mangwol Cemetery by Koh Jung-hee

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photographed by Y.S. Paek

Epitaph in the Mangwol Cemetery:
In Memory of Hwang Il-bong

How could the karma ravaging one generation
only affect the souls sleeping at Mangwol cemetery?
They started a seed fire to the stacks of the age of darkness,
opening up the wide sky.
They were buried, burnt up like the charcoal of the Hwangsan battlefield.
Today they stop the passing Moon and question.
They ask about the wages of my sin.
How could the scars of the knife that ravaged one generation
be only the wages of my sin?
When I face the Moon, I feel like a philistine,
and know a bunch of mums is just not enough.
As I meet with your only remaining eye, rising as the Moon,
I feel ashamed.
Today all I add is my helplessness,
my light that won’t even cover up one plot.

망월리 비명(碑銘) – 황일봉에게 / 고정희

한 세대 긋고 지난 업보가 어디
망월리에 잠든 넋뿐이랴만
한 시대가 쌓아올린 어둠의 낟가리에
불쏘시개 되어 하늘 툭 틔우고
황산벌 숯가마로 묻힌 저들이
오늘은 가는 달 붙잡고 묻는구나
내 죄값을 달에게 묻는구나
한 세대 긁고 지난 칼 자국이
어디 내 죄값뿐이랴만
내가 달과 마주 서니 속물일 뿐이어서
국화 한 다발도 속될 뿐이어서
달로 떠오르는 네 외짝눈과 만나니
부끄럽구나
한 평 땅 덮지 못할 내 빛
무력한 근심이나 보태는 오늘

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