Posts by Brother Anthony of Taizé

Translation Tuesday: “The Woman in Tula” by Kang Unkyo

"the sunset which used to come running, when she smiled carefully"

Kang Unkyo is a veteran Korean poet whose poetry, like all great art, has evolved in response to the times. From nihilistic political verse to “People’s Poetry” of abstractions, she has refreshed many traditional forms. Known for her lyrical touch, the poet here creates a sensory pastiche of the woman in Tula. 

That woman in Tula who used to blush,
that woman in Tula who used to ask the menu carefully,
that woman who used to put on a red-apple-patterned apron
and make red salad,
the sunset which used to come running, when she smiled carefully,
the woman in Tula who used to turn over and wipe the reddened tables,
that woman, red glasses, red curtains, red calculator

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Translation Tuesday: Two poems by Yoo An-Jin

Now my language is a roaring of waves

It’s not often that poets become household names, but acclaimed Korean poet Yoo An-Jin had help from her contribution to the immensely popular essay collection, “Dreaming of a Beautiful Friendship,” as well as from her first novel, Anemones do not Wither, adapted into a hit television series. In these poems, sensitively translated by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Yu Chang-Gong, we see the other side of that popularity: the sudden loneliness amid a crowd; the naked dread of age.

Aged Forty

Just as the place where a river ends is the sea,
do we reach the sea of tears
at the age when youth’s tears run dry?

Now my language is a roaring of waves
and if once I shout
ten million words resonate
while my gestures have turned into writhing waves.

Though it unravel ten million times,
it is all a knot of dancing steps
indeed, from forty onwards is an age of tears,
an age of tears
showing nothing but waterways.

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Translation Tuesday: Two Poems by Kim Seung-Hee

Avantgardists are dreadfully fierce though they do not mean to be.

In Poetry’s Emergency Room

Poetry is emergency room, poetry is oxygen tent, poetry is red blood inside a cold apple,

sorrow is like fertilizer

that must be sprinkled here and there on poetry,

poetry is a pregnant woman’s day,

the day of delivery nobody knows when it will be;

poetry comes racing embracing a bomb,

racing over the clouds.

Yet in one tiny paddy-field,

yellow heads of rice are ripening.

A field the size of a bowl of rice, small enough for a conical hat to cover,

a tiny bowl of a hat-field,

a gruel-bowl sized, rice-bowl sized gruel-field, rice-field,

hat-field.

Ordinary patients recover energy thanks to a bowl of gruel,

so by the power of a small strip of autumnal paddy

I am saved, you are saved,

so once again we lie flat on the field gleaning ears of language

then sow seeds of language

so that golden paddy-fields rise in tiers,

one of your poems,

a steaming bowl of rice, your collection of lyric poems. READ MORE…