|poem by||Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)|
|year of publication||1941|
|poetry collection||Baeknokdam (백록담), 1941|
|그늘이 차고,||covered with shade,|
|따로 몰리는||as the whirlwind|
|소소리 바람.||converges as one.|
|앞섰거니 하야||Rushing ahead|
|꼬리 치날리어 세우고,||with the tail raised sharply,|
|종종 다리 까칠한||it moves with the gait of|
|산새 걸음걸이.||a thin-legged wild bird.|
|여울 지어||Forming swirls|
|수척한 흰 물살,||of lean white currents,|
|손가락 펴고.||its phalanx of fingers.|
|멎은 듯||Seemingly letting up|
|새삼 돋는 빗낱||only to renew the droplets,|
|붉은 잎 잎||noisily tramples|
|소란히 밟고 간다.||all over the red leaves.|
|꼬리 치날리어 세우고,|
|종종 다리 까칠한|
|수척한 흰 물살,|
|새삼 돋는 빗낱|
|붉은 잎 잎|
|소란히 밟고 간다.|
|covered with shade,|
|as the whirlwind|
|converges as one.|
|with the tail raised sharply,|
|it moves with the gait of|
|a thin-legged wild bird.|
|of lean white currents,|
|its phalanx of fingers.|
|Seemingly letting up|
|only to renew the droplets,|
|all over the red leaves.|
Longing for Home (향수) is the first poem in the great poet Seo Jeong-ju (서정주)'s first poetry collection Wha-Sa Jip (Flower Snake). The works in this collection deal with profound and heavy subjects such as self-perpetuating instinct of life, the deeper realm of the human psyche, and so on. This particular bent in the author's early works gave the poet the label of Lifist (생명파).
The work starts with a stark depiction of the birth of the author himself. You get the feeling that it foregoes any embellishment or euphemism in the brutally honest and naked scene of the humble birth, neglected by his own father so that the old grandmother is the only one around, in a dead poor shabby place, by a mother whose fingernails were black. It was really a rock bottom start.
The boy still survives and grows up, even though, in his own words, all he encountered in the world was shame. People see a sinner or a fool in him but he brushes it off, and won't apologize for anything.
He finds his share of brilliantly dawning mornings, in poetry in particular, but even that doesn't turn him into a nice docile person. He declares that he lived a life of a sick dog heaving with its tongue hanging out. It seems the instinct for survival is what kept him going, as he states what raised him was the wind more than anything else.
It is a narrative we don't see in poetic works every day, and is made all the more striking by the succinct yet impactful words. The author's direct, in-your-face kind of depiction touches your heart and puts the scene right before your eyes, so to speak, skipping any cerebral interpretation, which may be the hallmark of great poetry.