Sword and Soil by Kim Jun-tae

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Sword and Soil by Kim Jun-tae

If sword and soil
fought,
which would win?

The sword
that pierced the soil
will rust soon,
held by the soil.

칼과 흙/김준태

칼과
흙이 싸우면
어느 쪽이 이길까

흙을
찌른 칼은
어느새
흙에 붙들려
녹슬어버렸다.

(Originally published in Gwangju News, June, 2012)

Kim Jun-tae (1949- ) was born in Haenam, Jeollanamdo. He studied German literature at Chosun University. He made his literary debut in 1969 with the publication of “Thrashing the Sesame” and other poems in The Poet. His poetry collections include Thrashing the Sesame, I Saw God, The Rice Soup and Hope, Fire or Flower?, and Sword and Soil. He is known as the progressive poet of “Oh, Gwangju! The Cross of Our Nation!,” a poem about the Gwangju Uprising he published on June 2, 1980, in The Chonnam Daily. With the publication of this poem, the newspaper was forced to shut down, and he was laid off from his teaching at Chonnam High School. This poem has been acclaimed as the first poem that addressed the uprising. He is a protest poet committed to writing about ruined hometowns, national liberation, and the decolonization of culture.

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