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Ko Un

By This Poet

2

Majung Village

Over the steep, panting hills where
I rest my heart.
I like the simple homeliness
of the bitch and her puppies.
For how many centuries have
such homely sights been dear to us?
The stern old nettle tree standing by the village gate
gathers sweeping winds.

That’s not all.
Beyond the village
the well never dries.
What a wonder it is,
the well’s not a dipperful lower.

Children throw stones.
On the other side of the hills
pheasants flutter away, frightened for no reason.

The snow’s not gone yet.
An old man, arms akimbo, runs into an eddy of wind.

In the old days a poet once said

In the old days a poet once said 
our nation is destroyed
yet the mountains and rivers survive

Today's poet says
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
yet our nation survives

Tomorrow's poet will say
the mountains and rivers are destroyed
our nation is destroyed and Alas!
you and I are completely destroyed