The Wine Barrel and the Country Road by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kim Seon-soo

The Wine Barrel and the Country Road by Song Su-kwon

The wine barrel jostles on the bike carrier.
The grass smell turns the spokes.
The spokes make the wine splash.
The gravel jumps up over the barrel
and falls on the grass field.
The country road drinks wine–
it wobbles.
The joy of the barrels that run to the tavern:
a barmaid stands outside.
The barrels jump down.
The road goes into her skirt and ends.

시골길 또는 술통 / 송수권

자전거 짐받이에서 술통들이 뛰고 있다
풀 비린내가 바퀴살을 돌린다
바퀴살이 술을 튀긴다
자갈들이 한 치씩 뛰어 술통을 넘는다
술통을 넘어 풀밭에 떨어진다
시골길이 술을 마신다
비틀거린다
저 주막집까지 뛰는 술통들의 즐거움
주모가 나와 섰다
술통들이 뛰어내린다
길이 치마 속으로 들어가 죽는다

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My Wife’s Bare Foot: Turtle Shell Letters by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

My Wife’s Bare Foot: Turtle Shell Letters by Song Su-kwon

I once saw a turtle die on en route back to the sea
after she had dug up a hole in the hot sand with her hind legs,
laid a few eggs and covered it back up with sand.
Her body was turned over, her short front paws were folded,
she was lying with the soles of her hind legs pointing toward the sky.

The unusually long soles of her feet looked sad.

Toward the anesthesia room, where nobody knows when she will awake,
passing all the patients’ rooms whose lights are turned off,
the bed carriage rolls on.
With a white mask on, her two eyes closed,
her bare feet poking out of the sheet

My wife’s soles were broken up
like the turtle shell soles that looked like ancient letters.

아내의 맨발
–갑골문 甲骨文 /송수권

뜨거운 모래밭 구멍을 뒷발로 파며
몇 개의 알을 낳아 다시 모래로 덮은 후
바다로 내려가다 죽은 거북을 본 일이 있다
몸체는 뒤집히고 짧은 앞 발바닥은 꺾여
뒷다리의 두 발바닥이 하늘을 향해 누워있었다

유난히 긴 두 발바닥이 슬퍼 보였다

언제 깨어날지도 모르는 마취실을 향해
한밤중 병실마다 불꺼진 사막을 지나
침대차는 굴러간다
얼굴엔 하얀 마스크를 쓰고 두 눈은 감긴 채
시트 밖으로 흘러나온 맨발

아내의 발바닥에도 그때 본 갑골문자들이
수두룩하였다.

Gazing at Mudeung Mountain by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Painted by Kang Jang-won (Mudeung Mountain in Gwangju)

Gazing at Mudeung Mountain by Song Su-kwon

The grand mountain,
the mountain that became a shield

The mountain buried
by the fog of floating spirits,
the mountain wet with rain,
the mountain of graves, the mountain of shamans

But look at it:
below the sky where a black kite circles around,
Mudeung is without discrimination–it is equal

The mountain,
the wife and husband
built on the ocher earth
with their teeth clenched;
the mountain, they call, as they leave this world,
till their throats burst up,
sitting on their shovels on the faraway riverbank;
the blood-stained mountain,
the wandering mountain

Oh,
the mountain that became a shield,
the grand mountain

무등을 보며/ 송수권 

큰 산
방패가 된 산

떠도는 넋들의 안개에
묻은 산
비 묻은 산
무덤산 무당산

그러나 저 보아라 오늘
솔개가 도는 하늘 밑
무등은 무등일 뿐으로 평등하다

지어미 지아비
이 악물고
황토에 심은 산
이 삶을 떠나보낼 때
머나먼 강둑에 삽을 깔고 앉아 목 터져라
부른 산
피묻은 산
떠돌던 산

아 아

방패가 된 산
큰 산

Leaning against the Temple Gate by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

The Hwaeom Temple Gate in Gurye, Jeollanam-do, Korea

Leaning against the Temple Gate

Sister,
are you still alive to see
your two eyebrows drowned in the shadow of the fall mountain?—
the river rises in the dark night
as I follow the end of my tears,
stopping clear tears by pressing them down with stones;
words of agony plunge deep down into the river,
coming back alive glittering like stones;
some come alive
like a fish jumping in the water;
or a branch of camellia broken off
and you freely gave to me

Sister, are you still alive to see
a wild goose dropping your two eyebrows
floating around, drowned in the shadow of the fall mountain?—
drinking one cup myself, leaving the other empty;
some meet like waterdrops leaping together on leaves

Sister, do you know
your two eyebrows float, drowned in the shadow of the fall mountain
now return, reflected in this pond water?

     어/ 송수권

누이야
가을산 그리메에 빠진 눈썹 두어날을
지금도 살아서 보는가
淨淨한 눈물 돌로 눌러 죽이고
그 눈물 끝을 따라가면
즈믄 밤의 강이 일어서던 것을
그 강물 깊이깊이 가라앉은 고뇌의 말씀들
돌로 살아서 반짝여 오던 것을
더러는 물 속에 튀는 물고기 같이
살아오던 것을
그리고 산다화 한 가지 꺽어 스스럼없이
건네이던 것을

누이야 지금도 살아서 보는가
가을산 그리메에 빠져 떠돌던, 그 눈썹 두어날을 기러기가
강물에 부리고 가는 것을
내 한 잔은 마시고 한 잔은 비워 두고
더러는 잎새에 살아서 튀는 물방울같이
그렇게 만나는 것을

누이야 아는가
가을산 그리메에 빠져 떠돌던
눈썹 두어날이
지금 이 못물 속에 비쳐 옴을

The Cuckoo of Jiri Mountain by Song Su-kwon

Translated by Chae-Pyong Song and Anne Rashid

Azalea painted by Kang Jang-won

The Cuckoo of Jiri Mountain

From across many summits
many cuckoos
called out their cries,
weeping as a group–
only after nine years of spring,
after being accustomed to untamed sorrow,
I knew that they were from a single cuckoo

Below Jiri Mountain,
when a cuckoo hides
on a summit,
its cry reverberates–
another summit behind takes it over
and yet another takes it over again–
I knew it cried as many cuckoos

Within Jiri Mountain
after the chain of summits cried out,
after coping for so long,
I saw the river finally open
without Han,
without lament

The strong current
of the Sumjin river
rushed toward Hadong
into the South Sea–
I saw it push up
against many small isles
of the South Sea archipelago,

One spring day
below Jiri Mountain,
one cuckoo cried out
till all her tears dried up,
remaining
as the last sorrowful color
of this world–
I saw it burn up
a field of azaleas
by the Refined Rocks

지리산 뻐꾹새/ 송수권
여러 산 봉우리에
여러 마리의 뻐꾸기가
울음 울어, 떼로 울음 울어
석석 삼년도 봄을 더 넘겨서야
나는 길뜬 설움에 맛이 들고
그것이 실상은 한 마리의
뻐꾹새임을 알아냈다.지리산하
한 봉우리에 숨은
실제의 뻐꾹새가
한 울음을 토해 내면뒷산 봉우리 받아 넘기고
또 뒷산 봉우리 받아 넘기고
그래서 여러 마리의 뻐국새로
울음 우는 것을 알았다.

지리산중
저 연연한 산봉우리들이
다 울고 나서
오래 남은 추스름 끝에
비로소 한 소리 없는
강이 열리는 것을 보았다.

섬진강 그 힘센 물소리가
하동쪽 남해를 흘러들어
남해군도의 여러 작은 섬을
밀어올리는 것을 보았다.

봄 하룻날
그 눈물 다 슬리어서
지리산하에서 울던
한 마리 뻐꾹새 울음이
이승의 서러운
맨 마지막 빛깔로 남아
이 세석 철쭉 꽃밭을
다 태우는 것을 보았다.

Song Su-kwon (1940- ) was born in Koheung, Jeollanam-do. He made his literary debut in 1975 by publishing in Munhak Sasang “Leaning against the Temple Gate” and four other poems. So far he has published more than ten collections of poetry. Many of his poems and themes are significantly influenced by his formative experience of Jeolla-do and its dialect; his poems are known for their sympathetic representations of farmers and fishermen in the region. Among his awards are the Cultural Ministry Arts Award, the Sowol Poetry Award, the Jung Ji-yong Literary Award, the Youngrang Poetry Award, and the Kim Dong-ri Literary Award. Recently he retired from teaching creative writing at Suncheon National University.