40s-50s / Poetry Translation / S-Z

On the Bridge – Yi Yong-ak

On the Bridge

Yi Yong-ak (1914-1971)

At night when the wind was rough,
We lit the extinguished square lantern
Again and again, stepping on a chest.
My sister said
She is scared, for the starry night has fallen

On the bridge to a noodle house
I become nostalgic of
Sister and I, children of a noodle house.

On neither Dano nor New Year
But only on one day
In autumn when bugs chirped,
Only on our father’s death anniversary
Had we taken a break
And wailed like adults.

(Translated by Jido Ahn. July 2017)

*Dano (from Korea.net):

Traditionally, the day was believed to be filled with positive yang energy, and in ancient times when people worshiped the sun and the moon, Dano was a day for the sun god.

Dano has always been a day of decorations, a day to enjoy the summer. People would wash and put on new sets of clothes and there was a whole range of “Dano decorations” (단오장, 端午粧).


Learn more about the poet: Yi Yong-ak (1914-1971)


다리 우에서

이용악 (1914~1971)

바람이 거센 밤이면
몇 번이고 꺼지는 네모난 장명등을
궤짝 밟고 서서 몇 번이고 새로 밝힐 때
별 많은 밤이 되어 무섭다고 했다.

국숫집 찾어가는 다리 우에서
문득 그리워지는
누나도 나도 어려선 국숫집 아히

단오도 설도 아닌 풀벌레 우는 가을철
단 하루
아버지의 제삿날만 일을 쉬고
어른처럼 곡을 했다.


2 thoughts on “On the Bridge – Yi Yong-ak

    • Ah, I’ve never been to any kind of Dano festival, actually. Dano isn’t a public holiday, so it seems like a lot of people forget about it all together. Plus, my hometown (Daegu) is too far away from Gangneung, so I don’t think I’ve ever been to Gangneung, actually. But Gangneung Dano festival sounds really great, so I hope I will have a chance to check it out some day!

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