Saturday, May 19, 2018

Dŏnagan Kkamagui (떠나간 까마귀): A nice children's poem about the Trump White House

Ddŏnagan Kkamagui ("The Crow that Passed by") is a poem by Ri Wan Gi that appeared in the literary magazine Adong Munhak (Children's Literature) in November of 2017.  It is interesting in that it mentions Trump by name and also references his "Make America Great" slogan (강대한 미국을 만들기). Actually, the phrase could more accurately be translated as "Make a Powerful America" but I think they were aiming for the former. This is my first attempt at translating poetry, and I found it unexpectedly difficult, so apologies for the somewhat stilted language.

Many thanks to @FahySandra for finding this poem in a South Korean archive and sending it to me and @NKResearcher for providing the missing stanzas.

The Crow that Passed by
떠나간 까마귀
Ri Wan Gi

Hearing the delicious rumor 
That at the White House there were some tasty corpses
The crow flew from far away.
Settling on the White House roof
He muttered, "The rumors were true,
The corpse smell is ripe."
He flitted back and forth
"Aha, it’s coming from that window."
The crow settled on a nearby branch. 

Within the room, Trump
was making a rambling speech
to his sycophantic aides:
"To make America great,
We must annihilate Korea through war."

"Eh? War?"
The crow, well over a hundred years old,
Witness to numerous battlefields, 
pricked his ears.

"Mr President! All those bastards
Who opposed your war drive have departed."
At the flunky's words
The man called Mr President screeched even louder
"All those shitheads who resigned from the White House,
One by one - they're all maniacs."

The crow nodded his head,
"Seems there were quite a few 'maniacs' there."

One person stepped forward from the side
And spoke up,
"But Mr President, Congress
Is griping that a war with well-armed Korea
Would bring nuclear catastrophe to American soil.
What a bunch of idiots."

The President trembled with rage
"To make America great,
We must wage war
Against those crazy nonsense-spewing bastards."

At Trumps’ bawling, like the chime of a broken gong,
The crow grimaced
"Ow my ears, such a racket!
Crying war, war…
For real, this president is crazy for war."

Right then the plump fellow 
Jumped up, not wanting to be overlooked.
"Mr President! Korea has tested
H-bomb equipped ICBMs
With complete success
Threatening destruction before the UN General Assembly
How can we patch this up?
Even congressmen are holding anti-Trump rallies;
Such a pain in the butt."

Frothing at the mouth, the President stamped about,
"So those bastards 
Don’t want to make America great!
It’s all the busywork of lunatics."

Meanwhile huge crowds
assembled in the streets
Calling down with Trump, who drives sane men mad;
Screaming: Drag forth lunatic Trump, that walking corpse,
Who has plunged America into crisis and danger
The protest column plunged wildly forward
Toward the White House

Suddenly the crow
Who'd been salivating over the corpse smell
Took offense at the racket
"Pfooey, messing with such a rotten corpse, even I'd go nuts
Much as I do enjoy corpses
The stench of such a demented corpse
It's utterly loathsome
Gack, ptooey!

And so he spread his wings
And flew away
From the house of the crazy old lunatic