Song for Five Friends
- onJuly 16, 2015
- Vol.28 Summer 2015
- byKim Kwang-Kyu
- A Journey to Seoul
Tr. Brother Anthony of Taizé 2006243pp.
Rocks and trees formed a screen.
When we first shared love, we were concealed,
not by closed steel doors or drawn curtains
but by scattered stones and bamboo leaves.
When we lay holding our breath in the pine forest,
what sheltered us from those tenacious pursuers
was not grenades or machine guns
but the deafening sound of a waterfall pouring down.
When we hastened southward with starving steps,
all the time looking back at the seven stars of the Great Bear,
what guided us through the darkness
was not some iron-hard ideology but the faint moonlight.
This poem is inspired by a famous lyric by the scholarpoet Yun Seon-do (1587–1671) that many generations of Korean schoolchildren have memorized. The old poem is a celebration of the beauty of nature in six four-line stanzas, showing the poet withdrawing from society. The present poem echoes the images of nature found in Yun’s poem but from a very different perspective, evoking the horrors of the Korean War.