My interest in languages often finds me looking up new things to read and watch from cultures around the world. I’ve picked up languages over the years and have a fair degree of proficiency in many of them. The ones I don’t know, however, I look for translations – and these are many. I routinely reach out for translated books and movies with subtitles for languages I do not know, because there’s so much available around the globe, no matter how many you pick up it still seems insufficient. Today’s pick is a poem by Korean poet Do Jong-Hwan. Some of his published collections of poetry include “You, My Hollyhock” (접시꽃 당신), “In Godumi Village” (고두미 마을에서), “A Flower Falls In The Village Of People” (사람의 마을에 꽃이 진다), and “The Root Of Sorrow” (슬픔의 뿌리)
FLOWERS THAT BLOOM WHEN SHAKEN
(흔들리며 피는 꽃)
Where is the flower that blooms without shaking?
Any of the beautiful flowers of this world
all bloom while being shaken
They shake on stems that grow upright
Where is the love that goes without shaking?
Where is the flower that blooms without being soaked?
Any of the shining flowers of this world
bloom as they are soaked
Soaked by wind and rain, petals bloom warmly
Where is the life that blooms without being soaked?
These lines are a comforting reminder when things don’t go our way and everything seems to be crumbling around. Flowers withstand rain and winds and still bloom beautifully. Of course, translations often vary, depending on the literary background of the translators, and their proficiency in both, the language of origin and the language being translated into. More so when it comes to poetry, at times the emphasis is on diction, sometimes on lyrical quality, the literal translation, or otherwise the interpretation. I picked this one because the analogy perfectly reaches across – hardships and challenges will always be encountered in life, but we can choose not to succumb to them and rather let them mould us into something stronger.
For those who read Korean and would like to form their own interpretations, here’s the poem in it’s original script.