I'm utterly helpless.
I'll just have to swallow my spit
and adversity, too.
A distinguished visitor deigns to visit
my tiny, north-facing cell.
Not the chief making his rounds, no.
As evening falls, a ray of sunlight.
A gleam no bigger than a crumpled postage stamp.
I'm crazy about it! Real first love!
I try to get it to settle on the palm of my hand,
to warm the toes of my shyly bared foot.
Then as I kneel and offer it my undevout, lean face,
in a moment that scrap of sunlight slips away.
After the guest has departed through the bars
the room feels several times colder and darker.
This special cell of a military prison
is like a photographer's darkroom.
Without any sunlight I laughed like a fool.
One day it was a coffin holding a corpse.
One day it was altogether the sea. How wonderful!
A few people survive here.
Being alive is a sea
without a single sail in sight.
Ko Un's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Sunlight by Ko Un )
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(24 January 1572 - 31 March 1631)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
William Butler Yeats
(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939)
(16 August 1920 – 9 March 1994)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
Rainer Maria Rilke
(4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926)
(7 October 1948 -)
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- I Am the Only Being Whose Doom, Emily Jane Brontë
- Alone, Edgar Allan Poe
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- O Captain! My Captain!, Walt Whitman
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- No Man Is An Island, John Donne
Poem of the Day
- ARRIVAL DAY, michael walkerjohn
- Yeh Meri Betian, Akhtar Jawad
- I am with you, Tiku akp
- आबै-आबौनि गामि, Ronjoy Brahma
- जोमैनि गामियाव, Ronjoy Brahma
- Ogling breasts … 2112-14, saadat tahir
- गोसोखौ बुरखायो, Ronjoy Brahma
- Banging, Casey Renee Kiser
- New Birth, Paul Sebastian
- First Encounter - Tan Sri Clement Hii, john tiong chunghoo