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Poetry

Underground Flower

Translated from Korean

There is an orchid that only blooms underground.
Because it never shows itself above ground
few are said to have seen it.
Only white ants can enter the blooms,
drawn by the fragrance rising from the runnels cut by the autumn rain.
The orchid withers in sunlight,
which the white ants burrow into the ground to escape,
their bodies sparkling white, though they work in the dark.

Like undeveloped film, this orchid never shows itself;
its whole body consists of roots,
even its blooms are just hidden roots.

Translation of "Tangsokeu Kot." Copyright Ra Heeduk. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Christopher Merrill. All rights reserved.

English

There is an orchid that only blooms underground.
Because it never shows itself above ground
few are said to have seen it.
Only white ants can enter the blooms,
drawn by the fragrance rising from the runnels cut by the autumn rain.
The orchid withers in sunlight,
which the white ants burrow into the ground to escape,
their bodies sparkling white, though they work in the dark.

Like undeveloped film, this orchid never shows itself;
its whole body consists of roots,
even its blooms are just hidden roots.

Translation of "Tangsokeu Kot." Copyright Ra Heeduk. By arrangement with the author. Translation copyright 2007 by Christopher Merrill. All rights reserved.

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