Poetry Depot

March 16, 2011

Ko Un, Major Contemporary Poet from Korea

Filed under: Korea — razvan @ 1:24 am

Ko Un (born on 1 August or 11 April 1933) is a South Korean poet. His works have been translated and published in more than 15 countries and he has been imprisoned many times.[1] Un is often considered a likely winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature,[2] so much so that reporters have camped outside his house ahead of the annual announcement.[1][3] (from wiki)
Ko Un was a witness to the devastation of the Korean War. He volunteered for the People’s Army, but was rejected because he was underweight. 

He became a Zen Buddhist monk in the 1950s, and returned to secular life sometime in the 1960s.

Ko Un became an activist opposing the harsh and arbitrary rule of South Korea’s president, President Park Chung-hee. His dissident activities led to several terms of imprisonment and torture.

The democratization of South Korea in the late 1980s finally gave Ko Un the freedom to travel to other countries, including a visit to the United States and make a spiritual journey through India. (from Poetry Chaikhana)

A Long Night 

We put up a tent for the night
between Shigatse and Latse.
As soon as the tent was up
a storm broke.
The tent shook as if about to fly away.

The water rose
up the river bank,
and with it the loud sound of the stream.

Shortly before, our water had boiled at 80 Centigrade.
Not anything like 100.
My anxiety and resignation had boiled away with it.

Already unrecallable sights have been swept away.
The sound of the river rose louder still.
The only thing left for me was to be swept away in the swollen stream.
I recalled my wife’s face.
I recalled my daughter’s face.
I had absolutely no use for things like truth.

translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taizé and Lee Sang-Wha

from Asymptote Journal

1 Comment »

  1. Interested in Korean poetry in translation, I would love to read posts on your blog

    Comment by Thoithoi O'Cottage — May 23, 2011 @ 12:36 pm


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: