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Imagining the World Through Flowers: Listening to the Music of Flowers by Yun Humyong

  • onOctober 26, 2014
  • Vol.17 Autumn 2012
  • byJung Yeo-ul
Listening to the Music of Flowers
2012
315pp.

During our life, we see flowers at birthdays, graduations, on acceptances to schools, weddings, and at funerals. In our most important moments, there are always flowers. But how many of us actually make an effort to listen to the music of these flowers?

Flowers are always ornaments and never the subject. Beautiful and pretty are words that are spoken from the perspective of the viewer, and not from the flowers. How often do people try to listen to flowers instead of bestowing meaning on their lives by means of flowers? One can say it isn’t just the flowers. While none of us hesitate to lend our ears to the meaning and purpose of existence, most are indifferent to existence itself. Only when there is genuine love is it possible to hear a sigh, feel tears, and witness the smile of existence. Yun Humyong is a writer who sings about this sincere love of flowers.

For the author, flowers represent life, love, and the world. He is a multi-talented artist who has also exhibited his flower artwork, with the title of “Listening to the Music of Flowers.” Yun’s stories are not about the contrived language of flowers but show the writer’s sincerest efforts of trying to hear their very language. He is a writer who has studied flowers for a long time, drawn pictures of flowers, written poems and novels about flowers, and strived to discover the truth of humanity through flowers.

His anthology of short stories, Listening to the Music of Flowers, delineates life’s never-changing truth, a truth that is similar to flowers that always resurrect beauty in the natural course of blooming and withering. No matter how beautiful flowers are, in the end they wither, but come spring, they are reborn with enduring beauty. Even though flowers seem lifeless in their external form during winter, they retain their intrinsic beauty even in quiescence. Flowers offer a precious truth that spring will arrive even under the most difficult circumstances. In Yun Humyong’s work, flowers are not simply an object of appreciation but the zenith of existence.

In Yun's collection, there are numerous incidents of death—death of a mother, death of a teacher, and death of a respected poet, Yi Sang. In his work, he covers not only the death of people, but also the death of space, as in the space of memory that is being endlessly dug out and destroyed in the name of redevelopment. Among these dying things, Yun discovers the essence of life that can never die. Even if they disappear in front of our eyes, the vestiges of their lives will not die. He is showing us it is the writer’s fate to vividly depict these traces. Resurrecting the beautiful marks of life in our hearts, left behind by those disappearing things, becomes the duty of the author. “Let’s express life, express our most truthful self, and express love.” These are the dreams envisioned in Yun Humyong’s new book. 

Author's Profile

Yun Humyong is a poet and novelist who debuted as a poet in 1967 when his poem was published in the Kyunghyang Daily in 1967. His novel won the Korea Times New Writer’s Contest in 1979. His published works include a collection of poetry, An Expert Archer; anthologies of short works, The Love of Don JuanThe Fox HuntListening to the Music of Flowers; and novels, Us to the Stars and A Generation Without a Promise. He is the recipient of the Hyundae Literary Award, Yi Sang Literary Award, and numerous other literary awards.