Caveat: 내 마음에도 눈이 내리리라

눈 오는 지도(地圖)

順伊(순이)가 떠난다는 아침에 말 못할 마음으로 함박눈이 나려, 슬픈 것처럼 窓(창) 밖에 아득히 깔린 地圖(지도) 위에 덮인다.

房방 안을 돌아다보아야 아무도 없다. 壁(벽)과 天井(천정)이 하얗다.

房(방) 안에까지 눈이 나리는 것일까. 정말 너는 잃어버린 歷史(역사)처럼 홀홀이 가는 것이냐, 떠나기 前(전)에 일러둘 말이 있던 것을 편지를 써서도 네가 가는 곳을 몰라 어느 거리, 어느 마을, 어느 지붕 밑, 너는 내 마음 속에만 남아 있는 것이냐.

네 쪼그만 발자욱을 눈이 자꾸 나려 덮여 따라갈 수도 없다.

눈이 녹으면 남은 발자욱 자리마다 꽃이 피리니 꽃 사이로 발자욱을 찾아 나서면 一年(일 년) 열두 달 하냥 내 마음에도 눈이 내리리라.

-윤동주 (한국의 시인, 1917~1945)

The Snowing Map

In the morning that Soon-ee left,
With my heart unable to speak,
Large snowflakes fell
Sadly outside the window
Covering the map
Spread out in the distance.

I return to the room, looking,
But there is nothing there at all.
The wall and the ceiling, white.

Will it snow inside the room?
Will you fly from me like history lost?
Even though you wrote me a letter
With your last words here,
I don’t know where you’re going,
Which street, which village, which house?
Are you to remain only in my heart?

The falling snow covers
Your small footsteps, again and again,
That I can’t even follow.

If the snow melts,
Flowers will bloom in each
Of your footprints, but if
I can find even just one between
The blossoms,
Snow will fall in my heart,
For a year, twelve months,

– Yun Dong-ju (Korean poet, 1917-1945)
(Translation by Yelun Qin)

Yun Dong-ju grew up in Manchuria, in a Korean community, under the Japanese colonial regime. He died in prison in Fukuoka, Japan, having been convicted of advocating Korean independence.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: 나무 잘 오르는 놈 떨어지고 헤엄 잘 치는 놈 빠져 죽는다

I learned this aphorism from my book of aphorisms.

나무 잘 오르는 놈 떨어지고 헤엄 잘 치는 놈 빠져 죽는다 jal o.reu.neun nom tteol.eo.ji.go he.eom jal chi.neun nom ppa.jyeo juk.neun.da
tree well climb-PRESPART guy fall-CONJ swimming well swim-PRESPART guy drown-INF die-PRES
The good tree-climber falls and the good swimmer drowns and dies.

I think actually this has the same meaning as that quote I offered by Randall Munroe a few posts back; essentially, even experts can make mistakes.

Perhaps this offers some solace to those of us who make mistakes – we might nevertheless be experts.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: On how to pass the time

Some of my students have learned of my "hobby" of writing poetry. Hence the following exchange.

Setting: Advanced 8th Grade Speaking class.

Teacher: "Are you ready?"

Student: "Please give five more minutes to prepare the answer."

Teacher: "I'm tired of waiting… it's boring when you guys take so long getting ready to answer the question."

Student: "Just do some work. Or write a poem or something."

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: Califerne

Many people don't realize that the name of my birth state has a rather unusual etymology. California was named by Spanish explorers after a fictional place, which is named in a novel they were familiar with, Las sergas de Esplandián, by Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo. Montalvo, in turn, made up the name, probably under the influence of La Chanson de Roland, from a few centuries earlier, where we can read,

Morz est mis nies, ki tant me fist cunquere
Encuntre mei revelerunt li Seisne,
E Hungre e Bugre e tante gent averse,
Romain, Puillain et tuit icil de Palerne
E cil d'Affrike e cil de Califerne;

I suppose these medieval and renaissance authors were trying to evoke the "enemy" of Christiandom, i.e. the Caliphate. Thus California has the same "conceptual etymology" as ISIS, via a very different path.

[daily log: walking, 7km]

Caveat: 노동자연대 and other activities

Yesterday after working in the morning, I took the subway into Seoul and met my friend Peter. We hung out for a few hours.

There were a lot of protests going on in downtown Seoul. Along Jong-no (the ancient, main east-west drag in downtown Seoul), we saw these protesters and a very disproportionate number of police.


I guess some are protesting about the president’s impeachment. Others are protesting the endemic corruption that the president’s impeachment seems to represent. There will be elections in about 6 weeks, so some people are protesting just because it seems like a good time to protest. It’s part of Korean culture, to a certain extent.

The group above is “leftish” – the red banner with yellow letters, on the right, reads 노동자연대 [nodongjayeondae], which means “Workers’ Solidarity.”

[daily log: walking, 1km]