Poet's Choice

By Robert Pinsky
Sunday, August 26, 2007

The Korean poet Kim Sowol (1902-1934), according to his translator David McCann, was a modernist influenced by Western poetry -- but a modernist who also incorporated many traditional techniques, images and forms from Korean folk poetry and folk song. His work is still popular and beloved in Korea. Here is Kim Sowol's "A Later Day," a poem that considers explicitly the relation between old ways and new generations:

What father and mother said you know

by heart, how Raising sons or daughters,

means looking forward

t o the days to come.

Just so. And clearly,

all were born of two parents.

But my friend, what does this mean?

What will be taught, hands raised,

long from now by a generation

who grew up all together and learned it?

Never mind the days to come,

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