Massacre, Part II by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

Photo provided by the 5.18 Memorial Foundation

Massacre, Part II by Kim Nam-ju

It was a day in May.
It was a day in May, 1980.
It was a night in May, 1980, in Gwangju.

At midnight I saw
the police replaced by combat police.
At midnight I saw
the combat police replaced by the army.
At midnight I saw
American civilians leaving the city.
At midnight I saw
all the vehicles blocked, trying to enter the city.

Oh, what a dismal midnight it was!
Oh, what a deliberate midnight it was!

It was a day in May.
It was a day in May, 1980.
It was a day in May, 1980, in Gwangju.
At noon I saw
a troop of soldiers armed with bayonets.
At noon I saw
a troop of soldiers like an invasion by a foreign nation.
At noon I saw
a troop of soldiers like a plunderer of people.
At noon I saw
a troop of soldiers like an incarnation of the devil.

Oh, what a terrible noon it was!
Oh, what a malicious noon it was!

It was a day in May.
It was a day in May, 1980.
It was a night in May, 1980, in Gwangju.

At midnight
the city was a heart poked like a beehive.
At midnight
the street was a blood river running like lava.

At 1 o’clock
the wind stirred the blood-stained hair of a young, murdered woman.
At midnight
the night gorged itself on a child’s eyes, popped out like bullets.
At midnight
the slaughterers kept moving along the mountain of corpses.

Oh, what a horrible midnight it was!
Oh, what a calculated midnight of slaughtering it was!

It was a day in May.
It was a day in May, 1980.

At noon
the sky was a cloth of crimson blood.
At noon
on the streets every other house was crying.
Mudeung Mountain curled up her dress and hid her face.
At noon
the Youngsan River held her breath, and died.

Oh, not even the Guernica massacre was as ghastly as this one!
Oh, not even the devil’s plot was as calculated as this one!

학살2/ 김남주

오월 어느 날이었다
80년 오월 어느 날이었다
광주 80년 오월 어느 날 밤이었다

밤 12시 나는 보았다
경찰이 전투경찰로 교체되는 것을
밤 12시 나는 보았다
전투경찰이 군인으로 대체되는 것을
밤 12시 나는 보았다
미국 민간인들이 도시를 빠져나가는 것을
밤 12시 나는 보았다
도시로 들어오는 모든 차량들이 차단되는 것을

아 얼마나 음산한 밤 12시였던가
아 얼마나 계획적인 밤 12시였던가

오월 어느 날이었다
1980년 오월 어느 날이었다
광주 1980년 오월 어느 날 낮이었다
낮 12시 나는 보았다
총검으로 무장한 일단의 군인들을
낮 12시 나는 보았다
이민족의 침략과도 같은 일단의 군인들을
낮 12시 나는 보았다
민족의 약탈과도 같은 일군의 군인들을
낮 12시 나는 보았다
악마의 화신과도 같은 일단의 군인들을

아 얼마나 무서운 낮 12시였던가
아 얼마나 노골적인 낮 12시였던가

오월 어느 날이었다
1980년 오월 어느 날이었다
광주 1980년 오월 어느 날 밤이었다

밤 12시
도시는 벌집처럼 쑤셔놓은 심장이었다
밤 12시
거리는 용암처럼 흐르는 피의 강이었다
밤 1시
바람은 살해된 처녀의 피묻은 머리카락을 날리고
밤 12시
밤은 총알처럼 튀어나온 아이의 눈동자를 파먹고
밤 12시
학살자들은 끊임없이 어디론가 시체의 산을 옮기고 있었다

아 얼마나 끔찍한 밤 12시였던가
아 얼마나 조직적인 학살의 밤 12시였던가

오월 어느 날이었다
1980년 오월 어느 날 낮이었다

낮 12시
하늘은 핏빛의 붉은 천이었다
낮 12시
거리는 한 집 건너 울지 않는 집이 없었다
무등산은 그 옷자락을 말아올려 얼굴을 가려 버렸다
낮 12시
영산강은 그 호흡을 멈추고 숨을 거둬 버렸다

아 게르니카의 학살도 이리 처참하지는 않았으리
아 악마의 음모도 이리 치밀하지는 않았으리

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

To the Friend by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

Photography by Melanie Steyn

To the Friend by Kim Nam-ju

Good friends are not the people of this world any more.
Those alive have either been captured and imprisoned behind the cruel wall
or have become underground water and run silently.
Some went beyond the night and float as ghosts.
Comrade, don’t lose your faith in victory.
Now is the time to stand trials and endure.
Train your heart and body, for the future is beautiful,
and it is ours.

The time to say good-bye has come.
With the courage that you showed to me,
with the weapon that you left, I take off,
mulling over the words you embodied:
true living comprises not possessions
but endless adventures toward being;
only in battle can a human be born anew every moment;
revolution can achieve its goal only in execution.

벗에게/ 김남주

좋은 벗들은 이제 이미 이 세상 사람이 아니라네
살아남은 이들도 잡혀 잔인한 벽 속에 갇혀 있거나
지하의 물이 되어 숨죽여 흐르고 있다네
더러는 국경의 밤을 넘어 유령으로 떠돌고
동지, 잃지 말게 승리에 대한 신념을
지금은 시련을 참고 견디어야 할 때,
심신을 단련하게나 미래는 아름답고
그것은 우리의 것이네.

이별의 때가 왔네
자네가 보여준 용기를 가지고
자네가 두고 간 무기를 들고 나는 떠나네
자네가 몸소 행동으로 가르쳐준 말
–참된 삶은 소유에 있는 것이 아니고 존재로 향한
끊임없는 모험 속에 있다는
투쟁 속에서만이 인간은 순간마다 새롭게 태어난다는
혁명은 실천 속에서만이 제 갈 길을 바로 간다는–말을 되새기며.

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

The Seat by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Melanie Steyn

The Seat by Kim Nam-ju

The ringleader of the massacre now
sits on a royal seat.

The ringleader of people who rose up against the massacre
now sits on a prison seat.
Which seat is more comfortable?
Which seat is more honorable?

옥좌/ 김남주

학살의 수괴가 지금
옥좌(玉座)에 앉아 있다

학살에 반대하여 들고 일어선 민중들의 수괴도 지금
옥좌(獄座)에 앉아 있다
어느 자리가 더 편안한 자리이고
어느 자리가 더 떳떳한 자리이냐.

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

At the Mangwol Cemetery by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

At the Mangwol Cemetery by Kim Nam-ju (1946–1994)

May lions, the stars of destructed earth,
you lie here cut into pieces
without faces, without names.
You are buried in dirt and in wind, labeled as rebels.

May heroes
who went against domination and injustice
for the freedom of the world where people live,
for the beauty of the world where people live,
and who rose up trembling in indignation,
you have never gone to the world of death.
You have never gone to the other world of oblivion.
The wide open hearts of May still withstand bullets,
the lifted fighting fists still resist injustice.
Innumerable unyielding lives are born
out of your collapsed bodies.
They are born again,
wet their lips in the river of blood you shed,
and sing the song that you couldn’t finish.
They are born anew,
wet their arms and feet in the stream of tears you shed,
and walk the road that you couldn’t walk entirely,
clenching their fists.
For the freedom of the world where people live,
for the beauty of the world where people live,
your sons and daughters now
are willing to risk even their lives.
Like you, they are marching forward
armed with love and hatred of revenge.

May heroes, the stars of the destructed earth,
the dawn buried in darkness is breaking
and the day of victory approaches,
so rise up and receive the glory of victory.

망월동에 와서/ 김남주

파괴된 대지의 별 오월의 사자들이여
능지처참으로 당신들은 누워 있읍니다
얼굴도 없이 이름도 없이
누명쓴 폭도로 흙속에 바람속에 묻혀 있습니다

사람 사는 세상의 자유를 위하여
사람 사는 세상의 아름다움을 위하여
압제와 불의에 거역하고
치떨림의 분노로 일어섰던 오월의 영웅들이여
당신들은 결코 죽음의 세계로 간 것이 아닙니다
당신들은 결코 망각의 저승으로 간 것이 아닙니다
풀어헤친 오월의 가슴팍은 아직도 총알에 맞서고 있나니
치켜든 싸움의 주먹은 아직도 불의에 항거하고 있나니
쓰러진 당신들의 육체로부터 수없이 많은
수없이 많은 불굴의 생명이 태어나고 있습니다
그들은 다시 태어나
당신들이 흘린 피의 강물에 입술을 적시고
당신들이 미처 다 부르지 못한 노래를 부르고 있습니다
그들이 새로 태어나
당신들이 흘린 눈물의 여울에 팔과 다리를 적시고
주먹을 불끈 쥐고
당신들이 미처 다 걷지 못한 길을 걷고 있습니다
사람 사는 세상의 자유를 위하여
사람 사는 세상의 아름다움을 위하여
이제 당신들의 자식들은 딸들은
죽음까지도 불사하고 있습니다
사랑과 원수갚음의 증오로 무장하고
그들은 당신들처럼 전진하고 있습니다

파괴된 대지의 별 오월의 영웅들이여
어둠에 묻혀 있던 새벽은 열리고
승리의 그날은 다가오고 있나니
일어나 받아다오 승리의 영예를 그때 가서는.

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

Don’t Sing of May as a Blade of Grass that Withers in Wind by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Don’t Sing of May as a Blade of Grass that Withers in Wind
by Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994)

Don’t sing of May as a blade of grass that withers in wind.
May didn’t come lyrically like wind,
nor did it lie lyrically like a blade of grass.

May came with a beast’s blood-stained claws.
May came with the teeth of crazy dogs hungry for blood.
May came with the soldier’s bayonet cutting the pregnant mother’s womb.
May came gorging on the children’s eyes that popped out like bullets.
May came with American tanks that trampled down the breath of freedom.

Don’t sing of May as a blade of grass that withers in wind.
May didn’t come lyrically like wind,
nor did it lie lyrically like a blade of grass.

May rose with the wailing of an angry lion.
May rose with the blood-stained hair of the slaughtered young woman.
May rose with the last scream that destroyed men shout.
It was the Freedom’s suicidal attack that jumped into the forest of guns and swords.
It was the hammer heated in the fire at the ironworks.
It was the kitchen knives of the boys who rushed out of the restaurants.
It was the rice ball rolled by the innocent lips of barmaids.
It was the dynamite where all the human emotion toward injustice
congealed in love and exploded in hatred.

Don’t sing of May as a blade of grass that withers in wind.
Wind is not fitting poetic language for the beast’s claws.
Don’t sing of May as a blade of grass that withers in wind.
Grass blades are not fitting poetic images for the blood battle resisting massacre.
There is no room for the lyrical to stand
in between the bloody massacre and the armed resistance.
Nor does it deserve a place–
not in Gwangju streets in May of 1980!

바람에 지는 풀잎으로 오월을 노래하지 말아라/ 김남주

바람에 지는 풀잎으로 오월을 노래하지 말아라
오월은 바람처럼 그렇게 서정적으로 오지도 않았고
오월은 풀잎처럼 그렇게 서정적으로 눕지도 않았다

오월은 왔다 피묻은 야수의 발톱과 함께
오월은 왔다 피에 주린 미친개의 이빨과 함께
오월은 왔다 아이 밴 어머니의 배를 가르는 대검의 병사와 함께
오월은 왔다 총알처럼 튀어나온 아이들의 눈동자를 파먹고
오월은 왔다 자유의 숨통을 깔아뭉개는 미제 탱크와 함께 왔다

노래하지 말아라 오월을 바람에 지는 풀잎으로
오월은 바람처럼 그렇게 서정적으로 오지도 않았고
오월은 풀잎처럼 그렇게 서정적으로 눕지도 않았다

오월은 일어섰다 분노한 사자의 울부짖음과 함께
오월은 일어섰다 살해된 처녀의 피묻은 머리카락과 함께
오월은 일어섰다 파괴된 인간이 내지르는 최후의 절규와 함께
그것은 총칼의 숲에 뛰어든 자유의 육탄이었다
그것은 불에 달군 철공소의 망치였고
그것은 식당에서 뛰쳐나온 뽀이들의 식칼이었고
그것은 술집의 아가씨들의 순결의 입술로 뭉친 주먹밥이었고
그것은 불의의 대상을 향한 인간의 모든 감정이
사랑으로 응어리져 증오로 터진 다이너마이트의 폭발이었다

노래하지 말아라 오월을 바람에 지는 풀잎으로
바람은 야수의 발톱에는 어울리지 않는 시의 어법이다
노래하지 말아라 오월을 바람에 일어서는 풀잎으로
풀잎은 학살에 저항하는 피의 전투에는 어울리지 않는 시의 어법이다
피의 학살과 무기의 저항 그 사이에는
서정이 들어설 자리가 없다 자격도 없다
적어도 적어도 광주 1980년 오월의 거리에는!

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

 

Like Water, I Flow by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

The Sumjin River, photographed by Nam Hee-jin

Like Water, I Flow by Kim Nam-ju

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water, following water myself.
As I meet the new spring carried in by the brisk eastern wind,
I will flow on and on into a stream,
moisten the pebbles,
wash away the dead skin on the naughty boy’s feet that have sat all winter.

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water,
following water myself.
As I meet a farmer in the draught
under summer’s penetrating sun
I will flow on and on into a ditch
to ease the farmer’s worry
and to dampen the rice stalks in the burning field

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water, following water myself.
Since the half moon rises upon the hill,
soon Chusok will come.
I will flow on and on over the shallows holding moonlight
to run the water mill and pound rice into flour.

On and on, where does water flow?
I ask the water, following water myself.
Summer followed spring, and now fall deepens.
I too will flow into a deep river gently
and go to a warm port to hibernate.

물 따라 흘러 가면서/ 김남주

흘러 흘러서
물은 어디로 가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게 물어본다
건듯건듯 동풍이 불어 새봄을 맞이했으니
졸졸졸 시내로 흘러 조약돌을
적시고
겨우내 낀 개구쟁이의 발때를 벗기러 가지

흘러 흘러서 물은 어디로 가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게
물어본다
오뉴월 뙤약볕에 가뭄의 농부를 만났으니
돌돌돌 도랑으로 흘러 농부의 애간장을 녹이고
타는 들녘 벼포기를 적시러
가지

흘러 흘러서 물은 어디로 가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게 물어본다
동산에 반달이 떴으니 낼 모래가
추석이라
넘실넘실 개여울로 흘러 달빛을 머금고
물레방아를 돌려 떡방아를 찧으러 가지

흘러 흘러서 물은 어디로
가나
물 따라 나도 가면서 물에게 물어본다
봄 따라 여름 가고 가을도 깊었으니
나도 이제 깊은 강 잔잔하게 흘러
어디
따뜻한 포구로 겨울잠을 자러 가지

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.

Stars by Kim Nam-ju

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Jung Jeong-im

Stars by Kim Nam-ju

The night falls,
and the world is quiet all over.
There is one thing that stays awake
all night, glowing
with longing, unable to sleep.
People call it a star,
a promise, a hope.
When the night deepens
and people suffer most,
they become stars one by one
and cry Mother, Mother.

별/ 김남주

밤 들어 세상은
온통 고요한데
그리워 못 잊어 홀로 잠 못 이뤄
불 밝혀 지새우는 것이 있다
사람들은 그것을 별이라 그런다
기약이라 소망이라 그런다
밤 깊어
가장 괴로울 때면
사람들은 저마다 별이 되어
어머니 어머니라 부른다

Kim Nam-ju (1946-1994) was born in Haenam, Jeollanam-do and studied English at Chonnam National University. He is known as one of the major resistance poets in South Korea, leading the people’s movement in the 1970s and 80s that ultimately toppled the dictatorship in Korea. Because of his activism, he was imprisoned twice, for more than ten years in total. In prison where paper and pencil were not allowed, he wrote many poems on milk cartons with the nail he made by grinding a toothbrush. These poems were later published in two collected volumes of his prison poetry, The Sunlight on the Prison Bar. His poetry bears witness to the tyranny of dictatorship and the hardships of the oppressed. He published such poetry collections as Requiem, My Sword My Blood, One Fatherland, The Weapon of Love and In This Lovely World. He received the Yun Sang-won Literary Award in 1993 and the National Literary Award in 1994. His poems have also been memorialized by Korean activist, rock singer An Chi-hwan in his album entitled Remember.