Monday, October 25, 2010

When I Think About Why - Anonymous, Korean

"Anonymous" has always been a prolific author across the centuries.... This one is from 16th century Korea.  Given how hand fans were used by both men and women, one should pause before assuming it's a woman speaking.  That ambiguity is one reason I like it.  The other is how it says so much in so few words and uses very simple imagery to speak about so much.  (Think about all the questions you have after reading!)  And it has that wistful melancholy that is very Asian and familiar (to me).
When I Think About Why
                                                   transl. V O. Baron and Chung Seuk Park

When I think about why
You sent that fan to me,
I wonder if you meant
For me to blow out the fire in my heart.

How could I put out a fire with a fan
When teardrops failed?

                                                Anonymous – 16th Century  Korean

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