Song of Peace

  • onOctober 21, 2015
  • Vol.29 Autumn 2015
  • byHwang Tong-gyu
Wind Burial
Tr. Grace Loving Gibson and Hwang Tong-gyu


I’m told
we are a puny race.
Doors locked even in daytime,
bathing our eyes with “Trust Drops,”
we read light essays, hugging the stove.
Dragging the anguish of no place to hide
like a soldier with one or two chevrons on the arm,
you travel the country from Kimhae to Hwachon,*
winter fatigues hanging on you,
a canteen flapping at your side.
Wherever you turn, barbed wire,
at every wire, a checkpoint.
I do not understand this love,
this smothering jealous love.
I spread my gloved hands, palms up.
Snow falling for some time now,
a snow colder than snow.

*From Kimhae to Hwachon: from the southernmost part to the northernmost part of South Korea.


Author's Profile

Hwang Tong-gyu is a professor emeritus at Seoul National University and chairperson of the literature department at the National Academy of Arts. He was a visiting professor at UC Berkeley and NYU, and participated in the University of Iowa's International Writing Program. He has received the Lee San Literature Prize, Daesan Literary Award, Midang Literary Award, and Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit. His books of poems have been translated into English, German, French, and Spanish.