Wanderer's Bouquet

Once one year, and I don't know when,
so lonely I could not stand it,
I became a wanderer and spent the year
roaming the mountain district,
and as I did I broke and gathered
a handful of flowers, a bouquet.
That bouquet of flowers I
gave to some child by the roadside.

That child by the roadside
by now must have grown,
and perhaps being lonely he too
has plucked a handful of flowers
to give to some other child.

And after some tens of years have passed,
crossing over yet one more bridge,
might that present of the bouquet
pass on to a child I haven't seen?

And so on a certain day
one thousand, or one thousand five hundred
years from now, below a mountain
where the sky is clearing after rain,
on a vast plain as the sun begins to fall,
where the hand of a new wanderer extends the bouquet,
is a child coming to receive it?

                      Korean; trans. David R. McCann

So Chongju, Korean, trans. David R. McCann, Selected Poems of So Chongju, Columbia University Press, 1989.