Thursday, July 30, 2009

Sô Chôngju: Two Poems

Azalea and Gull

Azaleas, azaleas on the hill
longing for the distant sea
mimicking the gull’s voice
call through the hills;

and gulls, the gulls on the sea
with the voice of azaleas
call across the sea
to the distant hills all around.

Black-haired Girl

The black-haired girl in the dark of night
walks the night road all alone.
The night tells how very glad it is,
and the stars say they are not lonely.

Yi T’aebaek, after writing a poem
in jet ink, went and found a ghost.
“Better than mine,” it said in admiration.
“Nicer composition,” is what it said in praise.

The black-haired girl has gone in marriage,
and the gourd flowers smile on the roof.
Beyond the hedge, the stream composes itself,
and the breathing of the skies grows calm.

Note: I found these poems in the Quarterly Review of Literature 50th Anniversary Anthology (1993), another recent used book acquisition. The translations are by David R. McCann.

Quarterly Review of Literature
50th Anniversary Anthology

Editors: T. & R. Weiss

Princeton, New Jersey (1993)

561 pages

Sô Chôngju biography and poems

In the Forum: If I should die in NYC: the full report.

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