Sumjin River: Part Three by Kim Yong-taek

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Sumjin River painted by Song Man-kyu

Sumjin River: Part Three by Kim Yong-taek

You must be attached to this.
Watching the sun set,
the glittering ripples rush in continuously
and seep deeply into you and the water’s edge across the river.
Beloved, without your knowing,
you must be attached to the place where the water is deep.
Flowers bloom–they wither in no time;
even flower seeds wither.
Leaning your heart against the plant leaf
on which white snow fell,
you came this far to stand.
When you arrived, the sun set,
thirsting for water, and you stood in front of the water,
feeling sorrowful, joyful, and happy,
and cried, your two shoulders shaking out of love.
You must have planted your longing deep under the water.
Though you didn’t have anybody you waited for,
you returned from the water’s edge and treaded up the night path.
Because your eyes were familiar with
each stone and each blade of grass on this path,
you must have been attached to this land.
The village where the light becomes alive little by little,
longs for the love that it must cultivate.
Your thin back that I watch quietly from afar
without your knowing
must have borne a pretty love.

섬진강3/ 김용택

그대 정들었으리.
지는 해 바라보며
반짝이는 잔물결이 한없이 밀려와
그대 앞에 또 강 건너 물가에
깊이 깊이 잦아지니
그대, 그대 모르게
물 깊은 곳에 정들었으리,
풀꽃이 피고 어느새 또 지고
풀씨도 지고
그 위에 서리 하얗게 내린
풀잎에 마음 기대며
그대 언제나 여기까지 와 섰으니
그만큼 와서 해는 지고
물 앞에 목말라 물 그리며
서러웠고 기뻤고 행복했고
사랑에 두 어깨 깊이 울먹였으니
그대 이제 물 깊이 그리움 심었으리.
기다리는 이 없어도 물가에서
돌아오는 저녁 길
그대 이 길 돌멩이, 풀잎 하나에도
눈 익어 정들었으니
이 땅에 정들었으리.
더 키워나가야 할
사랑 그리며
하나둘 불빛 살아나는 동네
멀리서 그윽이 바라보는
그대 야윈 등,
어느덧
아름다운 사랑 짊어졌으리.

(Originally published in Gwangju News, December, 2011)

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 painted by Song Man-kyu

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