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A Delicate Scent of The Age, Poem.

The Japanese colonial period was one of the most violent eras in the history of Korea. For that reason, many writings were buried by the Japanese censorship at that time, or they couldn`t see the light of the world. And there are literary works and literary people who came to modern times, particularly poetry, due to its distinctive subtleness and implication. These poetries were also brilliant in literary works at that time. Let`s look at some poetry and poets of the Japanese colonial period.

Yoon Dongju lived a short life, but he is one of the few poets who is left his name to the history of Korean literature, because his works include unique sensitivity and anguish of life which are hoped for independence. Since the 1930s, Japanese Imperialism and countermeasures made the way of Korean literary people. There are two ways for Korean literary people. One way resisted their policy and went to the penitentiary, and the other way obeyed instantly their policy and made literary works for Japanese imperialism. So, he is revered as a national poet representing the year 1940, along with Yi Yuksa.

He is regarded as a national resistance poet with a strong will and soft lyricism. His poetry expresses the contents of life lyrically and its humanity. His poetry also expresses the universe and anguish of colonial intellectuals with deep thought with true self-reflection. Prologue counts among his major works.

I hope to live with a conscience clear until my dying day And yet like the windblown leaf I have suffered I must love all those close to death with a heart that sings of the stars. And take the path I have been called to walk Even tonight, the stars are being ruffled by the wind. (translated from Korean by Alex Rose)

Prologue is the beginning of his poem, Heaven, Wind, Star and Poem. In other words, it is a representative work of poet Yoon Dongju, whose poetry implies the direction of life he wants to live in.Yi Yuksa was born in 1904 in Andong, Korea, and his real name was Wonrock. He is called ‘Yuksa’ because his number was 264 (264 in Korean is yi-yuk-sa) when he was jailed in Daegu Prison for three years in 1927. He was arrested in June 1943 and died at the Japanese consulate general in Beijing in the same year.

He was arrested 17 times while he lived, which was all due to independence movement. This means his life was devoted to the independence movement. Even when the use of Hangul was prohibited, his pen was not broken. He was evaluated as a resisting poet of the 1930s and 1940s, along with Yoon Dongju. Yoon Dongju`s poetry mainly deals with shame and reflection, and Christian sacrifice, but Yi Yuksa`s poetry is masculine and idyllic, and can be said to express his will. This poem is The Wilderness, one of his masterpieces.

In the beginning of time When heaven was first made Hardly was there any cockcrow. When all the mountain ranges Rolled seaward in love They dared not leave this place defiled. Through eons of time The busy seasons blew and blasted Until a big river sprang into flowing. Snow falling, a whiff of aroma floats From plum blossoms somewhere around; I sow the seeds of my humble song. In eons of time hence A superman will come on a prancing white horse. Let him chant my song to echo in this wilderness. (translated from Korean by Jaihiun Joyce Kim)

Yuksa`s historical consciousness of the future is the national liberation. And he thought it must come though his nation, Korea, was in the literary dark. Even though he resisted the Japanese in his heart, he reprimanded himself for not resisting them with action. Furthermore, confidence in the liberation of the Korea and its determined will. These are expressed in the Yuksa`s poetry little by little.

During the Japanese Colonial Era, the historical mission given to our people during this era was to overcome the strength of the Japanese imperialism and to restore the nation. To overcome the Japanese colonial power, all members of the nation protested the Japanese imperialism in their respective positions. Workers and peasants resisted the Japanese colonial rule in the field of life, the independents fought with blood and steel against the enemy, and the educators taught the history and language of the people in the schools. Poets also resisted Japanese rule in their own way, and we call them ‘resistance poets’. The independents were guns to fight against oppression, the resistance poets were bright and warm candles which were unextinguished.

Park Cheoljoo  cjfwn001@naver.com

<저작권자 © 홍익대영자신문사, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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