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POETRY

It’s

  • onOctober 29, 2014
  • Vol.25 Autumn 2014
  • byKo Un
First Person Sorrowful
Tr. Brother Anthony of Taize and Lee Sang-Wha
2012
152pp.

 

It’s a heart throbbing,
tears dripping from the muzzle of a gun.
 
It’s
subtracting rather than adding up,
dividing rather than multiplying.
 
It’s
listening.
 
It’s
a bowl of rice.
 
It’s
underground roots
not having to worry about the leaves up above.
 
It’s
someone’s childish fluting.
 
It’s every kind of life,
each individual life
not subject to other lives.
 
It’s
the sight of harnessed oxen plowing fields in days gone by.
 
Alas!
oxen’s millennial yokes.
 
It’s
a father dying ahead of his son.
 
It’s
a mother tongue.
 
It’s
one person’s blood warming another person’s blood.
 
It’s
a mother for whom her baby’s crying is all.

It’s
an archipelago.
 
It’s a person being a human for another human being,
a person being nature for Nature.
 
It’s
myself being finally abolished
 
Ah, Peace!

 


Note: An earlier version of this poem was included in Songs of Tomorrow.

Author's Profile

Ko Un’s poetry collections have been translated into twenty-seven languages, east and west. English editions of his books include Ten Thousand LivesManinbo: Peace & WarFirst Person SorrowfulHimalaya Poems; and What?: 108 Zen Poems. He has received several prestigious awards, such as the Golden Wreath Award at the 53rd Struga Poetry Evenings in Macedonia, the America Award, Griffin Poetry Prize Lifetime Recognition Award, Bjørnson Order for Literature, and the Republic of Korea’s Eungwan Order of Cultural Merit. His poems have been featured in PO&SIEChicago ReviewWorld Literature TodayThe New YorkerAzalea, and Mānoa.