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.

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