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What I Have Learned from the Summer HillAn Hee-yeon

『What I Have Learned from the Summer Hill』

Author : An Hee-yeon
Publisher : Changbi
Publication date : July 24, 2020
Number of pages : 152
Format : 125x200mm
ISBN : 9788936424466

An Hee-yeon

She started her career as a poet in 2012 as the winner of the Changbi Prize for New Figure in Poem. Her poetry collections include When Your Sadness Interferes and Within the Things Called Night. She also won the Sin Dong-yup Prize for Literature.

Bearing with Myself, Who Takes a Long, Long Time

 

When you need something that takes a long, long time

Let’s think of the fruit compote simmered in honey

The name of which uses the letters Right(正) and Fruit(果)
The wait for the clear, deep hue
– Excerpt from the poem “Saw”

On the summer hill the poet walked in order to completely lose herself and learned the following. First, how to behold the landscape beyond the world, without hope or despair. Second, that there are equal quantities of anxiety and calmness in total. Third, how to bear with herself, who takes a very long time. There is “time required to infuse because I am me” (Excerpt from the poem “Turning”). To wait for the time that would be entirely for myself; the time that would take a long, long while; it is my share to endure it, once again.

Waiting means I have something I must remember. As Maurice Blanchot says, waiting is the act of enduring oblivion once again, and the act of enduring waiting itself once again,[1] even if I’m not sure what it is that I must remember, to wait for it. To lose myself, in order not to forget it. To bear with myself, which would take a long, long time, to wait for my lost self.

In this instance, could I call it poetry? The wait for my poetry, which is yet to come and therefore, may never come. The wait for my poetry that will seep from me, the clear and dark poetry that will be infused from me. The act of bearing with myself who takes a long, long while, comes to resemble, almost, a religious practice aspiring for poetry.

My journey
Began with a question
Where am I from, who am I, and where am I going

They call me a stone
They say there are stones that tell you stories if you sit face to face with them
But I am rather a stone wandering and searching for stories
The language of cliffs and waterfalls
I want to build myself with stories they’ve gained by colliding with their entire beings

Should the end just be a great silence
What would it have been like without gravity?
I used to envy trees or birds
But all the creatures exist to endure
I witnessed a bird shaking their heads to shake off depression
And the tree that shuddered for a while along with it after the bird left it

It’s the same for everyone that we all fall asleep standing up
They’re all asking their share of the questions
– Excerpt from the poem “The Stone That Rolls”

I ponder when it was that I first began to love summer. Summer is only half the world. A breathless, sweltering summer day makes me wait for a cold winter day that is soon to come. On a winter day cold enough to freeze everything in the world, I think back on the heat of that summer day and make up my mind once again to endure the cold. Here is the poet, heading for the moment even the waiting is forgotten. For her, losing is to not forget — to forget even enduring myself that takes a long, long while.

There are equal quantities of hope and despair, anxiety and calmness in total, so let’s not slip into anxiety or despair. Let us be as calm as we are anxious. May my heart — anxious, miserable, in pain and sad like an angry beast — calmly rest. May “it” be buried completely in the dark abyss where even anxiety or despair cannot invade. May it slowly sink into the depth of endless tranquility. So, when I feel lethargic from too much calm, when I realize “Oh, this is a dream” in a dream, or when I get used to asserting myself saying, “I think I know it all,” may I take “it” out of the abyss where it was buried to remember it.
“I love waiting” (Excerpt from the poem “Stollen – for Hyeon-jin” ). What the poet learned from the summer hill she made is an appreciation of waiting. Don’t be afraid to wait. Even if we don’t know what it is we’re waiting for, even if it never comes, let’s not be disappointed. Because the state of our anticipating hearts will be the strength that makes us live. “He survived after passing through days several times more than he shared with the dog/ Arrival — that was the only word he was able to read and write/ He thinks that word sounds like an egg, warm and round/ A word something will break the shell of/ and be born from, if he waits” (Excerpt from the poem “Because His Little Dog Is Too Little”).

 

By Jeon Yeong-gyu
Literary critic

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[1] Written by Maurice Blanchot. Translated by Park Joon-sang. Awaiting Oblivion, Greenbee.



Translated by