The Sea
(바다)

poem by
Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)
year of publication
1939
poetry collection
Wha-Sa Jip (Flower Snake, 화사집), 1941
바다 1
The Sea 1

오·오·오·오·오· 소리치며 달려가니,
Aa-a-a-a-a-a-h, it runs away with a scream,
오·오·오·오·오· 연달아서 몰아 온다.
Aa-a-a-a-a-a-h, it rushes in one after another.

간밤에 잠 살포시
In my sweet sleep last night
머언 뇌성이 울더니,
a distant thunderclap intruded,

오늘 아침 바다는
making this morning's sea
포도빛으로 부풀어졌다.
all swollen up in a grape color.

철썩, 처얼썩, 철썩, 처얼썩, 철썩
Splash, splaaash, splash, splaaash, splash,
제비 날아들 듯 물결 사이사이로 춤을 추어.
it dances between the waves, like a sparrow flying in.

바다 2
The Sea 2

바다는 뿔뿔이
Each on its own
달어 날랴고 했다.
the sea tried to run away.

푸른 도마뱀떼 같이
Was quick on its feet
재재발렀다.
like a swarm of blue lizards.

꼬리가 이루
The tail was
잡히지 않었다.
hardly catchable.

힌 발톱에 찢긴
Gashed by white claws,
산호보다 붉고 슬픈 생채기!
scars redder and sadder than a reef!

가까스루 몰아다 부치고
It barely pushed up the shore,
변죽을 들러 손질하여 물기를 시쳤다.
tidied the far edges, washing the water away.

이 앨쓴 해도에
Washed hands, then drew them
손을 싯고 떼었다.
off the laborious marine map.

찰찰 넘치도록
So it'll spill round the brim,
돌돌 굴르도록
so it'll roll round and round,

회동그란히 바쳐 들었다!
it hoisted it up high on its hands!
지구는 연닢인양 옴으라들고 …… 펴고 ……
The globe contracted ... expanded ... like a lotus leaf.
바다 1

오·오·오·오·오· 소리치며 달려가니,
오·오·오·오·오· 연달아서 몰아 온다.

간밤에 잠 살포시
머언 뇌성이 울더니,

오늘 아침 바다는
포도빛으로 부풀어졌다.

철썩, 처얼썩, 철썩, 처얼썩, 철썩
제비 날아들 듯 물결 사이사이로 춤을 추어.

{cls: th}바다 2

바다는 뿔뿔이
달어 날랴고 했다.

푸른 도마뱀떼 같이
재재발렀다.

꼬리가 이루
잡히지 않었다.

힌 발톱에 찢긴
산호보다 붉고 슬픈 생채기!

가까스루 몰아다 부치고
변죽을 들러 손질하여 물기를 시쳤다.

이 앨쓴 해도에
손을 싯고 떼었다.

찰찰 넘치도록
돌돌 굴르도록

회동그란히 바쳐 들었다!
지구는 연닢인양 옴으라들고 …… 펴고 ……

The Sea 1

Aa-a-a-a-a-a-h, it runs away with a scream,
Aa-a-a-a-a-a-h, it rushes in one after another.

In my sweet sleep last night
a distant thunderclap intruded,

making this morning's sea
all swollen up in a grape color.

Splash, splaaash, splash, splaaash, splash,
it dances between the waves, like a sparrow flying in.

{cls: th}The Sea 2

Each on its own
the sea tried to run away.

Was quick on its feet
like a swarm of blue lizards.

The tail was
hardly catchable.

Gashed by white claws,
scars redder and sadder than a reef!

It barely pushed up the shore,
tidied the far edges, washing the water away.

Washed hands, then drew them
off the laborious marine map.

So it'll spill round the brim,
so it'll roll round and round,

it hoisted it up high on its hands!
The globe contracted ... expanded ... like a lotus leaf.
poetry collection whasajip cover
original cover of Whasajip
photo from http://encykorea.aks.ac.kr

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.

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Jeong Ji-yong (정지용)

A prominent poet and educator who spearheaded the new modernistic trend of the 1930s through his works on wide-ranging subjects feauring sensual language and keen attention to detail

aritist
Jeong Ji-yong (정지용, 鄭芝溶), poet
pen name
Jiryong (지룡, 池龍)
nationality
Korea
born
June 20, 1902,
in Okcheon, N. Chungcheong Province, Korea
(충청북도 옥천군)
died
September 25, 1950 (unconfirmed)
genre
lyric poetry
major works
Home Longing (항수)
Homeplace (고향)
Windowpane (유리창)
The Sea (바다)
Lake (호수)
The Other Side of the Mountain (산 넘어 저쪽에는)
Cafe France (카페 프란스)
The Road Home (귀로)
Rain (비)
Pomegranate (석류)