I was reading Translator’s Note: Three Poems by Ko Un from the Poetry Foundation and came across this excerpt:

We translated “명사도 동사도 다” (“all nouns and verbs”) as “all words,” which sounds less awkward in English, and decided not to isolate “there” (“거기”) on its own line, the way it’s isolated in the original, since it would sound overemphatic in English, especially as an ending.

The first part of this sentence makes sense. Indeed, all of the other noted changes in the larger paragraph make sense to me. However, I'm not sure about the part about not isolating "there". I'm also not sure exactly what it's referring to.

Here are links to the poem in Korean and English. I'm not excerpting because I'm not sure which parts are relevant, and I don't want to just dump the full text into this question. I see that "there" is on multiple lines by itself.

My specific questions:

  • What effect does isolating "there" on its own line have in the original Korean?
  • Why would preserving "there" on its own line sound "overemphatic" in English?
  • How does combining "there" with another line preserve the original poetic intent?
  • Hm, this might be a bit too advanced for my understanding of Korean (I'm a bit rusty), but I can do my best Dec 24, 2020 at 0:14


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