Whisper of Splendor

  • onAugust 3, 2016
  • Vol.32 Summer 2016
  • byChong Hyon-jong


Time Blossoming 1
Behold the waves of Time
It’s morning
Already tomorrow morning
Sailing on this very night
to meet another day
my waves
are blue, oh so blue
their undulation
tinges the light of every day;
oh the heart,
where dawn rises






Poetry Came Surging and Surging


Poetry came surging and surging
while I slept;
the world is but a window
or an egg called earth
whose beak is now cracking it open
or time is a perpetual
pulse of ethereal daylight,
poetry as such surging over anyhow
the universe with some blue ether
the light for which nothing is impervious
infinity smiling, formed by that light—
the infinity right in my eyes
the infinity suffusing my whole body
poetry as such still surging over anyhow
yet I chose to sleep on
instead of arising to set it down…
(it may well be that I no longer think
it’ll be lost unless put down
that the egg will hatch just the same
in the bosom of slumber)







O My Hearts

This day is so fair
dusk is in its own hue
sky in its own hue
clouds in their own hue
and these are the cumulus clouds
that I used to see as a child
O my hearts
O heart of its own hue






Some Solitude

Suffering a brief lonely spell
wild flowers you gathered
and twined into a bracelet.
Boundless was the time spent in silence
the round thing, inside and out, full of solitude.

You wore it on your wrist
or left it on the table
and I, in your absence,
look upon the floral bracelet lying there.

Upon it converges the universe
and loneliness pervades without end.
In that air I too at once
am kindred with solitude—
together with the hand that brought it.






A Day


A day is ten thousand years
a moment veritably an eon.
Where does the day end?
It never ends.
Somewhere the sun rises
somewhere it sinks.
(Just as love rises then sinks)
Heat knows no end.
Nor do ashes.
The wind’s chest is limitless
and so are the river’s sighs.
The sky with all its folds
the heart with all its chambers,
so goes laughter endless
as are tears.
No way to contain the body heat of the whole of creation
infinity unfolds, channels its course full to the brim.
The sky with all its folds
the heart with all its chambers,
a day never ends.




Ode to a Cricket

It is all very well Autumn came but
O cricket you’re making a sound
underneath my desk,
though not quite like a stone step,
so intent
on and on without a break
pouring into my ear
your clear music
your pure sound
O cricket
you’re letting flow
from my ears
a spring that never dries out
and the clearest in the world
your sound
vibrating from the wings
on a tiny, 17-millimeter body
arousing me from my summer-long sloth
and the mind prone to be slothful
is a Word which, let us say,
the sacred texts of all those so-called religions
put together
could never be anywhere near; O better singer
intent, purposefully intent,
pouring your word into my ear
until I grasp
(in truth, I did upon hearing)
and turning my heart
into a wellspring
of the world’s clearest spring-water
O you a better singer





A Visitor

To have a visitor
is indeed a matter of gravity.
For he
brings with him his past
his future.
Brings with him his whole life.
Brings with him his heart
vulnerable as can be
as may have been cut asunder—a heart
whose written account
a wind may be able to read;
should my heart imitate such wind
this visit after all will be a hearty welcome.






Tang of Energy

This morning
I’m having a green apple, an early crop,
and so rapt
over its green fresh flavor
my heart at once
Energy unbounded
in the freshness
the tongue savors.
The tang of
now in my mouth
after all the flowing
and winding through
the labyrinth
of those dynamic resources
stored in Nature.
The heart dances
to the wavelength of light
O freshness.





O the Dazzle of the Diamond
- Istanbul Poems

Topkapi Palace Museum’s Treasury Section
The very moment you stand before
the 86-carat diamond,
a lightning of lights!
All gemstones are virtual suns
yet this enormous diamond is literally the sun itself!
To let your eyes fixate such luminescence
is dangerous, for you will be blind
or lose your mind.
O the stone so dazzling, you just gasp,
not a word, and certainly no creed
but a virtual light
O the dazzle of the diamond.






Whisper of Splendor

The splendor
of the movement of Time
as the day draws to an end
in the gloaming
nothing wanting
so are solitude or seeds
one separate universe each
(which is splendor of all splendors)
could poetry, I wonder,
join in that movement.

Whatever sweeps over you when you secretly weep
for the loneliness of the ailing
could that be perhaps poetry.
(O splendor of loneliness and tears)

Underneath this ground still tracked
with all the past shadows of footprints
could poetry lay her breast somewhere there.
(Splendor of shadows and breast!)

The sky’s windy edge still suffused
with all the past breaths
could poetry breathe somewhere there.
(O splendor of breaths and winds)





Translated by Cho Young-Shil
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Author's Profile

Chong Hyon-jong worked as a reporter for seven years and subsequently taught at Yonsei Unversity as a professor of Korean Literature. He has received the Pablo Neruda Medal and the Eungwan (Silver Crown) Medal, which is the second highest Order of Cultural Merit in Korea. He has translated the works of Rainer Maria Rilke, Pablo Neruda, and Federico García Lorca into Korean.