[Web Exclusive] A Poetry Reading by Poet Ahn Sanghak "A Volcanic Island"

  • onSeptember 2, 2019
  • byKorean Literature Now


A Volcanic Island

April 3, 70th spring day


The source of all the world’s sorrow is love.

To the degree that love loses its form, sorrow arises.

Once love has completely vanished, sorrow arises fully.

That can be seen like an ID photograph anywhere on the volcanic island’s spring day.


Rape flowers that have lost love blossom red then drop.

Some love was buried in a pit with no time for leave-taking.

Camellia flowers that have lost love bloom on leafless branches then drop.

Some love took its leave by death in bosoms holding children hoping to save them.


The volcanic island where land and sea blossomed with love just once

is still dropping petals. On this island

where petals long drop, human love, too, once it drops

becomes a present progressive of flowers dropping, long ill.


Some flowers, though they have plowed through seventy springs,

are still dropping as petals that have lost love.

Island that cannot be divided, island that cannot be scattered,

pledging never to be divided, never to be scattered. Souls that have lost love

thus, after risking their lives, are now dropping as petals.


The source of all sorrow is love, souls eager to drop petals

on a land where their sorrows wholly turn into united love,

still wander, dropping plentiful petals. Yet still,

they are not just dropping blindly, seen closely,

rejecting this impure world, yellow flowers blooming yellow, red flowers blooming red,

petals fluttering onto that day’s land, as yet, are still dropping.


Soon, settling gently,

petals that must cover the whole island, petals

are now dropping onto love, origin of all the sorrows in the world.

Truly the day when they will touch clear ground is near.


translated by Brother Anthony of Taize