The Moonrise Hill by Lee Sung-bu

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Jiri Mountain; Photography by Ha Sung-mok

The Moonrise Hill by Lee Sung-bu

The moon that rises over Jiri Mountain
doesn’t illuminate grass and trees and roads,
but she shines upon the traces of tears
that won’t come off from inside people’s hearts.
The stars of early autumn look closer
and the sky is a deep blue mirror.
The hearts touched by this moonlight
have disappeared in a row, intermittently,
into the mountain’s shadow, and today,
even the ghosts have stopped their wandering and shouting
and pass between shadows, dropping their heads.
I only glimpsed the moon that rises over the hill–
a moon that has seen me in the midst of quiet and yet has not spoken–
and I have collapsed on the grass to catch my breath.
Every time brightness and shadow rustle together,
I hear lost love, sorrow, and anger
rushing in again.

달뜨기재/ 이성부

지리산에 뜨는 달은
풀과 나무과 길을 비추는 것이 아니라
사람들 마음속 지워지지 않는
눈물자국을 비춘다
초가을 별들도 더욱 가까워서
하늘이 온통 시퍼런 거울이다
이 달빛이 묻은 마음들은
한줄로 띄엄띄엄 산그림자 속으로 사라지고
귀신들도 오늘은 떠돌며 소리치는 것을 멈추어
그림자 사이로 고개 숙이며 간다
고요함 속에서 나를 보고도 말 걸지 않는
고개에 솟는 달 잠깐 쳐다보았을 뿐
풀섶에 주저앉아 가쁜 숨을 고른다
밝음과 그림자가 함께 흔들릴 때마다
잃어버린 사랑이나 슬픔 노여움 따위가
새로 밀려오는 소리를 듣는다

*달뜨기재 지리산 동쪽 웅석봉과 연결된 산줄기의 고개 이름

Jiri Mountain is located in the southern region of South Korea, spanning three provinces: North and South Jeolla, as well as Gyeongsang. Throughout Korean history, the mountain has taken up a variety of different meanings, reflecting many writers’ desires and needs of different moments in time. For some Korean writers, Jiri Mountain is a tragic figure of tumultuous modern Korean history. For others, it has been a figure of the magical, the sacred, the abundant, and the motherly.  For others, Jiri Mountain has been metaphorized as a mountain of the people and resistance, but also as a mountain of death and resentment, where fierce battles were fought between the end of Japanese colonial rule and the Korean War, slaughtering many Koreans. And still yet, for others, the mountain is a space of life and hope that renews the lives of today and tomorrow.

One thought on “The Moonrise Hill by Lee Sung-bu

  1. Byeoksoryeong, a ridge located in the center of the Jirisan mountain range, stands at 1,350m, serving as the waist of the mountain range. This peak is surrounded by the high and lush peaks around it, and at night, when the moon rises above the evergreen forests, its light is so clear and white that it almost seems to have a blueish tint; this view is known as one of the 10 most beautiful vistas of M. Jirisan. It is located at the center of the Jirisan trekking course that stretches from Nogodan to Cheonwangbong. A 38km road stretching from Hwagae to Macheon, connecting the heart of Jirisan to the northern and southern foothills was recently opened.

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