[KS] Korean Poetry Translation Help (Yi Sang, once again)

kevin parks kevin at macosx.com
Wed Mar 2 00:24:28 EST 2011

I am working on a series of musical settings of Yi Sang poems. I have 
significant portions of the project finished with about 8 settings in 
various states of completion.

I have mostly been working from Walter Lew's excellent transitions. 
However, to round out my series, I am hoping to include a few poems that 
he has not translated but which fit well with the other texts I am 
already using. To this end I have attempted translations of some poems 
myself but as you can imagine this is quite tricky, especially for 
someone who is not a card carrying literature student or professional 
translator and has limited knowledge of Sino-Korean characters.

I was wondering if there were people here that would be willing to help 
by looking over what I have and suggest any improvements and help me 
work through some knotty bits that have eluded my grasp. Finally there 
is the matter of one poem that hasn't even been started but entices me 
greatly. However, that one might be more than I can handle on my own.

There are nine poems to be added in total and 4 or 5 of them are already 
translated completely and just need some tuning. I am tempted to just 
send them to the list but that might just clog inboxes so I will hold 
off. I usually type in the original from the Kim Chu Hyun edition and 
also consult the Edition Bbul text which is also excellent and has many 
useful footnotes (I have these pages scanned in and carry them with me) 
then translate these to modern standard Korean and just hack at it from 
there with several dictionaries open.

What can I say other than help will be acknowledged and I would be 
extremely grateful and if these translations come out nicely we can 
maybe find a way to send them out into the world.


Kevin Parks
University of Virginia, Music Dept.

P.S. For the curious the poems I am using from Walter are are 오감도 2, 
3, 4, 7, 10, 13, 소영위제(Soyŏng Problems), 절벽(Precipice), one of the 
지비 (Paper Memorial Stone) & 꽃나무 (Flowering tree). The poems I am 
hoping to add are: 회한의 장 (Regretful Chapter?), 내부 (Interior), 가정 
(Family? Home?), 최후 (The End), 아츰 (Morning), 문벌 (Lineage?), 자화상 
(Self-Portrait), 一九三三, 六, 一 (1933, 6, 1) and my pie in the sky is 
this somewhat longer poem 1931년(1931). Again many of these are started 
or in some cases completed but would certainly benefit from once over 
from someone with a poetic sensibility or with better translation chops 
than I currently posses.

More information about the Koreanstudies mailing list