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.

(Translated by Jido Ahn. December 2016)


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

연탄 한 장

안도현 (1961-)

또 다른 말도 많긴 많지만
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

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

6 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

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