20s-30s / K-L / Poems in Korean Middle School Textbooks / Poetry Translation

Pink Clusters – Kim Eok

Pink Clusters

Kim Eok (1896-?)

On the street where spring breeze buoyantly rolls,
Pink apricot blossoms open their eyes.

Ineffably delighted to see pink clusters,
A butterfly dances as it sways.

On the street where spring breeze buoyantly rolls,
Pink apricot blossoms flutter in the wind.

As pink clusters fall in the wind,
A butterfly turns around as it sobs.

1934
(Translated by Jido Ahn. Feb 2016)

 

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Learn more about the poet:

There isn’t much information about the poet on the web. His whereabouts have been unclear since 1956, six years after he was kidnapped (납북) to North Korea. Quite a few Korean poets who lived in Korean War era either voluntarily remained in North Korea (mostly because their hometowns were in North Korea) or kidnapped, and most of their lives in North Korea remain unknown.

Before Korea was divided, Kim “discovered” and mentored Kim Sowol, one of the most famous poets in Korea. But Kim Eok is such a controversial poet, because he openly supported Japan Empire’s annexation of Korea. Also, when Kim Sowol’s diary was discovered in 1970s, some of the poems that were known to be Kim Eok’s were turned out to be Kim Sowol’s.

 

연분홍 송이송이

김억 (1896-?)

봄바람 하늘하늘 넘노는 길에
연분홍 살구꽃이 눈을 뜹니다.

연분홍 송이송이 못내 반가와
나비는 너흘너흘 춤을 춥니다.

봄바람 하늘하늘 넘노는 길에
연분홍 살구꽃이 나부낍니다.

연분홍 송이송이 바람에 지니
나비는 울며울며 돌아섭니다.

1934

 

A little bit about the translation: ‘하늘하늘,’ ‘송이송이,’ ‘너흘너흘,’ ‘울며울며’ are repetitions of an adverb.  These are crucial in creating a rhythm in the poem. But I did not repeat an adverb in the translation, because it sounds more natural not to repeat them and repeating them wouldn’t necessarily revive the rhythm of the original poem. So, there’s no point repeating them. In addition, I added “in the wind,” in the line 6, although the original would be closer “pink apricot blossoms flutter” in order to match the rhythm in the line 2; those two lines are mirroring lines. Also, I translated ‘연분홍’  as “pink” instead of “light pink,” which is more precise, because “light pink” would make the lines sound wordy.

This poem appears in the 7th grade Korean textbook

photo source: Magazine Shin-DongA

2 thoughts on “Pink Clusters – Kim Eok

  1. Where did you find this poem? Do you have any other poems by Kim Eok? I am a very distant relative of his- I’d love to know more about him!

    • Hi Billie, thanks for visiting the blog! I learned this poem when I was in school in Korea. If you can read Korean, you can simply search 김억 on Google, and you’ll see some articles and blog pages that have his other poems. As of now, I don’t have any other translations, but I’m more than willing to translate a couple more poems written by him in the near future. I know it’s exciting to learn more about distant relatives and ancestors!

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