Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2023  Vol. 21  No.3
an online journal of literature and the arts
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translation from Hangul by Suphil Lee Park

Advent of April


interpretive translation
How come I write poems as if on command
But flowers follow water without a word


syllabic translation
Poems come to me like fate
Flowers flow past me speechless


literal translation


In this concise poem, Kim is comparing herself to flowers, and the command of water not invoking any words, (poetry) becomes the poem’s central question, hence illuminating her point of view that a flow of life is bound to incite a desire to put it to words. This is an intriguing existential question since Kim was a courtesan poet and courtesans were called haeuhhwa (解語花 / 해어화), “flowers that understand speech,” literally translated.

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