80s-90s / A-G / Poetry Translation

A Piece of Briquette – Ahn Do-hyun

A Piece of Briquette

Ahn Do-hyun (1961-present)

Though people say many different things,
Life is
To become a briquette, gladly
For somebody else.

From the day the floor chills to the day spring comes,
The most beautiful thing in the streets of Korea
Is a truck that fervidly climbs up the hill
with briquettes.

As if it knows its mission,
A briquette burns endlessly
Once its body catches fire, but
I was oblivious even when I had
warm rice and soup every day.

For I feared becoming a lonely lump of ashes
After loving others with my whole being,
I haven’t become a briquette for anyone.

When I think about it,
Life is
To shatter myself into pieces.

I had never thought of
Clearing the street for others to roam
When the world is slippery with snow in early spring.

1994
(Translated by Jido Ahn. December 2016)

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Learn more about the poet: Ahn Do-hyeon (1961-)

연탄 한 장

안도현 (1961-)

또 다른 말도 많긴 많지만
삶이란
나 아닌 그 누구에게
기꺼이 연탄 한 장 되는 것

방구들 선득선득해지는 날부터 이듬해 봄까지
조선팔도 거리에서 가장 아름다운 것은
연탄 차가 부릉부릉
힘쓰며 언덕길 오르는 거라네

해야 할 일이 무엇인가를 알고 있다는 듯이
연탄은 일단 제 몸에 불이 옮겨 붙었다 하면
하염없이 뜨거워지는 것
매일 따스한 밥과 국물 퍼 먹으면서도 몰랐네

온몸으로 사랑하고 나면
한 덩이 재로 쓸쓸하게 남는 게 두려워
여태껏 나는 그 누구에게 연탄 한 장도 되지 못하였네

생각하면
삶이란
나를 산산히 으깨는 일

눈 내려 세상이 미끄러운 어느 이른 봄날에
나 아닌 그 누가 마음 놓고 걸어갈
그 길을 만들 줄도 몰랐네, 나는.

photo source: Woman Chosun

Other poems by Ahn Do-hyun:
I Ask You – Ahn Do-hyun
Had We Been Snowflakes – Ahn Do-hyun
A Piece of Briquette – Ahn Do-hyun

9 thoughts on “A Piece of Briquette – Ahn Do-hyun

  1. 아름도운 번역. 맞은 감동을 이루어졌어요. Sorry my Korean isn’t very good but i wanted to try and express something to you in Korean. Your translations are great and you introduce me to poet’s i don’t know. i think you get the poet’s emotional intention. 감사합니다.

    • Hi Daniel, thanks for visiting the blog! I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed the translations. Apparently, I have a long way to go with poetry translation, so it always feels incredible to know my blog has successfully introduced Korean poets. Thank you so much again for the comment!

      • “Apparently”? I’m surprised by that. I think you do a pretty tidy job of translating. Of course you should always look to improve but i think you are doing pretty good already.

      • Haha, thanks a lot. I always feel less confident with poetry translation than prose translation, and maybe that’s why I was feeling what I said was “apparently” the case! But I’m glad to hear I’m doing a decent job. 🙂

  2. Pingback: I Ask You – Ahn Do-hyun | Ahn Translation

  3. Pingback: Had We Been Snowflakes – Ahn Do-hyun | Ahn Translation

  4. Pingback: I Ask You – Ahn Do-hyun | Ahn Translation

  5. Pingback: Had We Been Snowflakes – Ahn Do-hyun | Ahn Translation

  6. Pingback: A Half Shattered Briquette – Ahn Do-hyun | Ahn Translation

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