On a green spring afternoon,
I was asleep under a flower tree.
A petal came down and hugged me.
Another petal came down
and caressed my lip and brow.
One more came down and cleaned my fingernails.
In no time a lifetime passed,
and the flower tree withered to death.
I became a butterfly and all alone
followed the flower’s path—
flying as in a dream over the hazy field-path.
Moon Deuk-su, Korea (1928–2020)
Translation Ko Chang-soo – Stanley Barkan
from “The Anthology of Modern Korean Poetry”
East-West Publications (UK) Ltd.