The great monk Cho Oh-hyun’s poems published in Arabic

The cover of Cho O-hyun's poetry book translated into Arabic

When his poems become our world

A good line of verse could bring you amusement for a day. An inspiring poem would then tune your mood for a month. An excellent volume of poetry might set you in heaven for a year. And if you meet a man who lives as a good line in an inspiring poem of an excellent volume of poetry, it means you have an extra life.

My first experience in translating Korean poetry into Arabic started with bringing an anthology selected sixty poems from the works of the great poet Ko Un. Then, I did not meet him, until we gathered last year, for the first time, to sign his Arabic book I translated. It was really a great opportunity, and I think when I start translating another work written by Ko Un, the experience will be totally different because I met the poet. It means that he sent his magic touch to his lines of verse.

The poet and monk Cho O-hyun

This is what happened when I met Master Musan Cho O-hyun first before translating his excellent work Far–Off Saint. I could capture the sense of humor, the cleverness of an old man, the wisdom of the monk, and the culture of a unique poet.

His character pushed me to read and translate a book he dedicated for me. The translated book was published this week in Muscat, the capital of the Sultanate of Oman, by “Bait-Al-Ghasham for publishing and translation, thanks to its director Mr. Mohammed Al-Rahby, The AsiaN columnist.

Mr. Cho O-hyun was born in 1932 and became a Buddhist monk in 1958, later began his literary career in 1966. He is considered today as one of the most prestigious names in the world of poetry in Korea.

The translator and writer Ashraf Dali

In Far–Off Saint readers will find poems that can change their lives, establish a world of wisdom to live within. This is happening while reading poems, recall their thoughts, and while thinking of them.

Mr. Cho O-hyun is very keen about describing the final images of his picturesque poems; the old man on the cliff who was looking through the fog, discovering that his life was a try to hold that mirage; the fisherman who went fishing in his last day, the people who wanted answers of the meaning of their long lives, the monk on top of the mountain looking upon Seoul, while thinking that his life was just a microscopic creature attached to the cloud traveling over the city!

Reading his poems was a good travel to the east, where monks abandon the pleasures of daily normal life for the sake of other pleasures found beyond or narrow world. I wish that his poems could become – someday – our world.

The poet Cho and the translator Dali gather and pose with staffs of the AsiaN in Novermber 2012 at the Manhae Village, Gangwon Province, South Korea

Here is a poem by Mr. Cho O-hyun from Far-Off Saint, as a sample of the wisdom of a cloud rain that grows love on Earth.

Far-Off Saint

Today, this one day,
This one day called today,

The swarm of dayflies
Lay eggs and die,

Saying there’s nothing more to see,
Having fully seen the rising sun
And the setting sun.

Though I’m still alive,
Having lived beyond the time to die,
I don’t fee I’ve lived anyone of the days.

If that’s the case,
The saint is but
A cloud of far-off dayflies,
Though he may live a thousand years.

*Following is Arabic news reports on the publication of Aribic version of monk Cho’s poetry book.
(Each article can be read by clicking the title of media except the print article images.)

Arabic Version of The AsiaN
16 April 2013
Electronic Newspaper: Masress from Egypt
17 April 2013
The AsiaN
18 April 2013
Al Roya Newspaper in Oman
22 April 2013
Oman Daily Arabic
23 April 2013
Al Rai newspaper in Kuwait
23 April 2013
Rosa El-Youssef Daily newspaper in Cairo
3 May 2013

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