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The Mountain

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2020. 11. 27.

The Mountain

 

 

I blamed you.

When I asked you, you kept silent

Thus I blamed you.

But I realized your answer is `silence'.

 

I sneered at you.

When I touched you, you didn't move

Thus I sneered at you.

But I realized your movement is `immobility'.

 

I doubted you.

When I sat on your lap, you didn't embrace me

Thus I doubted you.

But I realized your embrace is `let me be'.

 

Thou Greatest!

Thou Highest!

Thou Heaviest!

Thou Heartiest!

 

Let me be like you!

Let me sit face to face with you!

Let me lie down within you!

 

By Ham Sok Hon

Translated by Ann and Sungsoo Kim

 

* In 1945 after the end of WWII, Ham Sok Hon (1901-1989, a Korean Quaker) was arrested by the North Korean Communists and was beaten into unconsciousness at his arrest. Ham survived but found himself a prisoner under North Korean Communists who were themselves under Russian authority. Moreover, the Communists confiscated Ham's house and most of his belongings. This meant Ham's aged mother, wife and six children, found themselves poverty-stricken. Life was hard for Ham and his family. In fact, it may have seemed not life, rather a struggle to survive.

 

In the prison, Ham tried to maintain his imperturbability in spite of overwhelming despondency. Ham asked himself: "Korea is liberated but why am I still in prison? Where is Korea going?" There was no answer but silence as Ham wept yet remained serene. In order to heal and calm his shattered heart, Ham began to write various poems whilst in the prison cell. To avoid the eyes of the prison officers, Ham deliberately expressed his suppressed emotions and feelings through metaphysical language, poems, rather than essays. Inevitably, for the first time in his life, Ham becomes a `poet'.

 

In one of his poems, 'The Mountain', Ham described the characteristic of God as an immovable mountain. Looking up to the silent heaven and mountains, perhaps Ham comprehended the nature of God as a transcendental as well as a neutral being in human affairs: just as heaven provides light and rain for all beings, whether good or evil, in Ham's view God's nature was neutral and impartial.