Ko Un - Beggars: Husband and Wife

When they have no food left
they go roaming around five villages :
Okjŏng-gol, Yongdun-ri, Chaetjŏngji,
Chigok-ri, and beyond Sŏmun ―
no, six, including Tanbuk-ri in Oksan County:
‘If you’ve any food, please, could you give us a spoonful?’
Their humility is so much humbler by far than
even the wife from Sŏnun-ri in Jungttŭm could manage.
The words ‘please, could you give’ are scarcely audible.
During the bleakest days of harsh spring famine,
when they cannot see so much as the shadow
of a pot of cold left-over barley-rice, they say:
‘Let’s go drink some water instead.’
Off they go to the well at Soijŏngji
to draw up a bucketful. Then those two beggars,
husband and wife, lovingly share a drink, and go home again
In the twilight thick flocks of jackdaws settle,
daylight fades into twilight,
as husband and wife pass over the hill at Okjŏng-gol.
In the twilight, smoke from a fire cooking supper
rises from only very few houses.

Translated by Brother Anthony of Taize, Young-moo Kim, and Gary Gach