Sŏmjin River/섬징강

Kim Yong-Taek/김용택

Translated by Brother Anthony of Taize (An Sonjae)

Sŏmjin River

Look as you follow the Sŏmjin River in drought.

Though people draw and draw from it, Chŏlla’s vein-like

streams keep flowing into it unceasingly

and on its twilit banks, as the sun is setting,

white clover flowers blossom like balls of rice

and vetch flowers like glowing charcoal bow their heads.

On river banks no map ever mentions,

on plants no book of flora mentions,

it draws and sets darkness,

then hangs floral lamps

brightening sunburned brows.

Look as you follow the Sŏmjin River

that, after flowing and flowing, if it thirsts,

summons the streams on their way to Yŏngsan River,

takes them longingly in a bone-crunching embrace,

as it twists its way round Chiri Mountain’s stubby waist.

How could the Sŏmjin River ever dry up,

even if a few louts come rushing to draw from it?

Once Chiri Mountain has washed its face in the twilit river,

risen again and laughed aloud,

it looks toward Mudŭng Mountain and asks: Is that not true?

Then Mount Mudŭng, bathed in the glow of twilight, replies: Of course it is,

and nods its bright brow. Just watch it,

as you follow the Sŏmjin River, look.

How could the Sŏmjin River ever dry up

even if a few ignorant bastards draw from it?


가문 섬진강을 따라가며 보라

퍼가도 퍼가도 전라도 실핏줄 같은

개울물들이 끊기지 않고 모여 흐르며

해 저물면 저무는 강변에

쌀밥 같은 토끼풀꽃,

숯불 같은 자운영꽃 머리에 이어주며

지도에도 없는 동네 강변

식물도감에도 없는 풀에

어둠을 끌어다 주이며

그을린 이마 훤하게

꽃등도 달아준다 흐르다

흐르다 목메이면

영산강으로 가는 물줄기를 불러

뼈 으스러지게 그리워 얼싸안고

지리산 뭉툭한 허리를 감고 돌아가는

섬진강을 따라가며 보라

섬진강물이 어디 몇 놈이 달려들어

퍼낸다고 마를 강물이더냐고,

지리산이 저문 강물에 얼굴을 씻고

일어서서 껄껄 웃으며

무등산을 보며 그렇지 않느냐고 물어보면

노을 띤 무등산이 그렇다고 훤한 이마 끄덕이는

고갯짓을 바라보며

저무는 섬진강을 따라가며 보라

어디 몇몇 애비 없는 후레자식들이

퍼간다고 마를 강물인가를

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