80s-90s / K-L / Poetry Translation

New Spring (1-8) – Kim Jiha

For “New Spring 9″ (best known among the series – also known simply as ” New Spring”): click here


New Spring 1

Wind is chilly
Buds sprout all over the body

Birds chirp
Roar from an excavation is strident

Heading to the Unification observatory
of Nanjido, the Mountain Trash.


New Spring 2

In March
Buds sprout all over the body and

Sitting in the long universe
Where a cold spring wind blows,
All day I’m comfortable.

After having a spoonful of meal
I stagger forward
On an uncomfortable street
To look for a sick friend.

Time, please don’t halt
Right now, here in my heart
I shall plant an apple tree.


New Spring 3

I was lonely
All through the winter.
The new spring came and
Talked to the grass and
Chatted with the buds
So I came to think
That there is no loneliness
That dirt, water, air, and wind
Are all our brothers
That they are adults
More reverent than brothers.
My mind eased.

Like a blessing
A bird sings above my head


New Spring 4

I’m thankful for
Still being alive.

I’m thankful for
Being able to eat
Three meals a day.

I’m even more thankful for
Being able to see spring comes and
Flower blooms

My mind is calm, so
When I embrace the universe and

Stand below a tree,
From somewhere comes
The sound of life crumbling
The sound of birds howling.


New Spring 5

Looking and looking back
At a flower

Gazing at the clouds
And gazing at them again

In spring, people are
Closer to the universe.


New Spring 6

When a bee comes in and out
Of flowers

And babies
Frolic in a park

My heart beats.
My eyes thin
In awe of all things.


New Spring 7

From the bottom of the universe
Magnolia burgeons.

The whole body aches
As if green buds are sprouting and

From the bottom of melancholy
The universe rises.

Is in the bottom of my mind.

In a small, breezy spring park,
Loneliness holds hands with loneliness,
Trees intertwine with trees.

There is no I and
Only the façade of melancholy
Surges up to the sky
It is written there:
People are eternal,
People are boundless.
Melancholy disappears
Without a trace
And a butterfly
Buoyantly floats.


New Spring 8

I counted
How old I am

Three point five billion old since life blossomed on Earth
Fifteen billion old since the universe exploded
Infinity old, penetrating before and after then.

Oh, infinity

I am the life of infinitely dying
And not dying

I have no fear.

I will love a clump of grass,
I will love myself.

(translated by Jido Ahn in December 2015)

learn more about the poet: Kim Jiha (1941-)

새봄 1

바람 차다
온몸에 새순 돋는다

새들이 우짖는다
터파기 굉음이 시끄럽다

쓰레기산 난지도
통일전망대 가는 길.


새봄 2

온몸에 새순 돋고

꽃샘바람 부는
긴 우주에 앉아
진종일 편안하다.

밥 한술 떠먹고
몸아픈 친구 찾아
불편한 거리를
어칠비칠 걸어간다.

세월아 멈추지 마라
지금 여기 내 마음에
사과나무 심으리라.


새봄 3

새봄이 와
풀과 말하고
새순과 얘기하며
외로움이란 없다고
그래 흙도 물도 공기도 바람도
모두 다 형제라고
형제보다 더 높은
그리 생각하게 되었지요.
마음 편해졌어요.

새가 머리 위에서 노래합니다


새봄 4

아직 살아 있으니

하루 세 끼
밥 먹을 수 있으니

새봄이 와
꽃 볼 수 있으니
더욱 고맙다.

마음 차분해
우주를 껴안고

나무밑에 서면
생명 부서지는 소리
새들 울부짖는 소리.


새봄 5

꽃 한번
바라보고 또 돌아보고

구름 한번 쳐다보고
또 쳐다보고

봄엔 사람들
우주에 가깝다.


새봄 6

꽃 사이를
벌이 드나들고

공원에서 뛰놀 때

가슴 두근거린다.
모든 것 공경스러워
눈 가늘어진다.


새봄 7

우주의 밑바닥에서
목련이 피어오른다.

푸른 새순 돋는가
온몸 쑤시고

우울의 밑바닥에서
우주가 떠오른다.

마음에 나직한
새 울음소리

외로움이 외로움과 손잡고
나무가 나무와 얽히는
바람부는 작은 봄 공원

나는 없고
우울의 얼굴만
하늘로 높이 떠오른다
거기 쓰여 있다.
사람은 영생
사람은 무궁이라고
우울은 어느덧
자취없이 사라지고
나비 한 마리
하늘 하늘 난다.


새봄 8

내 나이
몇인가 헤아려보니

지구에 생명 생긴 뒤 삼십오억살
우주가 폭발한 뒤 백오십억살
그전 그후 꿰뚫어 무궁살

아 무궁

나는 끝없이 죽으며
죽지 않은 삶
두려움 없어라.

풀 한 포기 사랑하리라
나를 사랑하리


The biggest challenge of translating this series was the use of “I”. Korean language often omits a subject, and the poet rarely uses “I” in these poems. Especially since the poems talk about the universe, nature, and life, I wanted “I” to be absent in the translations, too. But English language heavily uses “I” and other subjects in sentences, so it was inevitable to use “I” in many poems. However, I still tried to use it as few as possible. I’d really appreciate any suggestion or criticism from people who have experience translating Korean poems into English.

Kim is also known as Kim Chi-ha or Kim Chiha, although “Gim Jiha” is the closest to Korean pronunciation.


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