The Leper by Seo Jung-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Photography by Jung Beom-tae

Photography by Jung Beom-tae

The Leper by Seo Jung-ju (1915-2000)

The sunlight from the sky
filled the leper with sorrows.

He gobbled up a baby
when the moon rose over the barley field.*

All night he cried scarlet cries like flowers.

* There once was a myth in Korea that if lepers ate a baby’s liver, they would be cured.

문둥이/서정주

해와 하늘 빛이
문둥이는 서러워

보리밭에 달 뜨면
애기 하나 먹고

꽃처럼 붉은 우름을 밤새 우렀다

출전: “시인부락” (1936)

seojungjuphotoSeo Jeong-ju (1915 – 2000) was born in Gochang, Jeollabuk-do. He is considered the founding father of modern Korean poetry. Under the pen name Midang, he published at least 15 collections of poetry. He taught Korean literature at Chosun University, among others. He was also nominated five times for the Nobel Prize in literature. His grandmother’s stories and his interest in Buddhism had a strong influence upon his writing. His works have been translated into a number of languages, including English, French, Spanish and German.

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