NPR logo 'In the Old Days...'

'In the Old Days...'

'Flowers of a Moment' cover
'Flowers of a Moment' cover

This untitled poem is from Ko Un's most recent book, Flowers of a Moment, translated by Brother Anthony of Taize, Young-moo Kim, and Gary Gach. Ko Un grew up in Korea during the Japanese Occupation. During the Korean War, he was conscripted by the People's Army. In 1952, he became a Buddhist and lived a monastic life for ten years.

To mark National Poetry Month, NPR.org is featuring a series of newly published works selected by the Academy of American Poets. Learn more about this and other titles at the academy's New Spring Books list.

Untitled

Ko Un

 

In the old days a poet once said

our nation is destroyed

yet the mountains and rivers survive

 

Today's poet says

the mountains and rivers are destroyed

yet our nation survives

 

Tomorrow's poet will say

the mountains and rivers are destroyed

our nation is destroyed and Alas!

you and I are completely destroyed

Books Featured In This Story

Flowers of a Moment

by Un Ko, of Taize, Brother Anthony, Yong-mu Kim and Gary Gach

Paperback, 103 pages |

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Flowers of a Moment
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