NPR logo 'In the Old Days...'

'In the Old Days...'

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, 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.


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 |


Buy Featured Book

Flowers of a Moment
Un Ko, of Taize, Brother Anthony, et al

Your purchase helps support NPR programming. How?