Shin Kyong-Nim


There are times when I long to become part
of an old-time painting.
There are times when I long to go trudging in,
with my knapsack on,
to enter a tavern,
to push open a back-room door where lasses sit embroidering,
to work the bellows in a blacksmith's shop;
just suppose I couldn't find
the way back out, what then?
Suppose I were trapped
in an old-time painting, what then?
There are times when I suddenly realize
that I'm trapped
inside a modern-day painting,
and can't find the way out of it,
knock and struggle though I may,
I just can't find
any door or exit.
There are times when I long to get out
of this modern-day painting.
There are times when I long to be sitting
in a night express, with my knapsack on,
on my way right out of this world.

With a Rose
(장미와 더불어)

Freed form underground, fairy spirits
ride up sap-filled vines,
then speed heavenward like arrows.
Shooting upward, as far above as the squirrels,
suddenly they look below their feet
and shut their eyes, seized with vertigo.
Opening them again an instant after:Ah!
The beauty of the enraptured earth seen from above

while you rise no farther
but hang dangling at the tips of branches;
whose fault is it if you turned into flowers?
Who should blame you if you failed to convey the words
of the ultimate underground to highest heaven?
The stars that impatiently kicked their feet
will drop down in a flash at break of day
and in clear dewdrops consume themselves
in long protracted kisses.


Source of joy when rising clear
and source of might when tempering with heat,
then source of yearning when hidden by clouds
and source of regret when banished by thunder storms.
Sometimes hanging limply drenched after a storm of rain,
occasionally even contorted and ugly,
then suddenly forgetting all clarity and heat,
yearning and regret quite sloughed away,
ecstatic beauty carelessly dropping into the west.

Let it not be said that there dreams come budding fresh.