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Everything Yearned For: Manhae's Poems of Love and Longing

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ISBN-13: 978-0861714896
ISBN-10: 086171489X
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Editorial Reviews


"Hot, hot poetry from a Korean master. It's cause for celebration when one book can brighten so much darkness. Francisca Cho's definitive translation of Manhae's The Silence of Everything Yearned For is a revelatory experience, a wonderful journey to the heart of the heart, gently and wisely guided by a true master. This is the only book-length collection of poems ever published by Manhae (the pen name of the revered Korean activist-monk-poet Han Yong-un). Manhae not only bore witness to the history of his time but also took a leading part of it. . . Cho's indispensable English-language rendition also includes several chapters of skillful commentary on the poems' interwoven topics of Buddhism, activism, and love. In its mode of variations on a central theme--that of love--Everything Yearned For speaks to us more deeply than any linear narrative might. Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus comes quickly to mind, also Whitman's original Leaves of Grass and Tagore's Lover's Gift." (Tricycle)

"Manhae's deceptively simple ecstatic poems draw on a tradition that goes back thousands of years. Manhae joins to that tradition his Korean Buddhist sensibility and practice, and considerable technical skills, producing a suite of poems of striking originality." (Sam Hamill, founder of Poets Against the War and author of Dumb Luck)

"I quickly found myself entraptured with the writing inside Everything Yearned For. [. . .] Francisca Cho does an amazing job with her translation. Her translation is true to Manhae's work as she leaves his extended prose intact, which previous translations have taken out or mutilated. Cho packs the book with everything a reader can yearn for. It's easy to see why she won the Daesan Literary Award for her translation. [. . . Manhae's] poetry dances on the page; it sings and shouts to the reader." (Korean Quarterly)

"This book is amazing." (Andrea McQuillin, editor of Shambhala Sun)

"A wonderful, wonderful book. These poems remind me of Rilke and Tagore. I love that you can't tell whether they are erotic, religious, political-or all three at once! They penetrate your heart like a gong at midnight." (Andrew Schelling, Naropa University, author of Wild Form, Savage Grammar: Ecology, Asia, Poetry)

"Discover Manhae's poetic genius in Cho's superb translation." (Mu Soeng, author of The Diamond Sutra: Transforming the Way We Perceive the World, and Trust in Mind: The Rebellion of Chinese Zen)

"Intense and poignant. Love takes Manhae, and the reader, to a place of awareness that he understands is a dream within a dream; but one with a tang of relative truth about it--the extremes of bliss and despair, a paradigm of duality." (DharmaLife)

"Manhae never considered himself a poet, but his powerful words have been captured sensitively and brilliantly by translator Francisca Cho. The words conjure sad, beautiful images and evoke the true splendor of Manhae's native Korea. Cho has nailed Manhae's distinctive, poetic prose with her graceful translation. Cho provides detailed analyses of the poems, as well as an overview of Manhae's life and the influences on his writing. Everything Yearned For will appeal to poetry lovers and all readers interested in Eastern spiritual voices. Recommended as a splendid, passionate gift choice." (New Age Retailer)

From the Publisher

"Francisco Cho has provided the definitive English translation of these remarkable poems. Manhae's long rhythmical lines seem to sweep forward with an almost Biblical cadence in some places, while in others breaking apart into brief, almost conversational phrases. Their mix of the philophical, mystical, and sensual are uniquely distinctive. A WONDERFUL VOYAGE AWAITS YOU." -from the foreword by David R. McCann, recipient of the Manhae Prize for Arts and Sciences, and Director of the Korea Insitute at Harvard University

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Wisdom Publications (January 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 086171489X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0861714896
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 0.7 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #957,498 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Hoback on April 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
A beautiful translation of the poems of Han Yong-un, nom de plume Manhae. The book itself is gorgeous as well, superbly constructed and with a lovely cover illustration. The author does a remarkable job in capturing the essence of meaning, while preserving the aesthetic beauty of the poetry from its original language.

Don't purchase this expecting a collection of romantic Shakespeare sonnets; you'll be slightly disappointed by the lack of lines you can recite to your intended. The closest it comes to "shall I compare thee to a summer day" is one poem which does indeed compare the intended to jade and other precious goods, but begins and ends with lines to the effect of "it's not quite right to call you beautiful." Kind of a mood killer if your goal is to impress that special someone.

What Manhae does provide is wonderful, utterly sublime lines of longing, the pain of seperation, and often unrequited desire. The title does well in capturing the sensibility of the poems - think of a type of love where the entire world and everything in it conspires to remind you of the object of your desire. The oft ambiguous sex of the narrator actually adds to this ambience, and the tone and content of some poems does lend a degree of believability to rumors that some (if not all) of the poems were written by a Buddhist nun instead of the implied author. One can easily see and interpret some of the works in the context of an author active in the nationalistic Korean independence movement

Superb work which will undoubtedly be the definitive translation. Manhae deserves to be brought out of obscurity for western readers and enjoyed, and this translation should do well to accomplish that.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By An Seon Jae on March 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When this book was first published in 2005, the poet Robert Pinsky wrote in his Washington Post column: "One of the fathers of the Korean independence movement was Manhae, an important figure not only in poetry but also in religion, culture and politics. An American poet reads with a gasp that Manhae, a monk who profoundly influenced Buddhist thought and practice, was also a coauthor of the Korean Declaration of Independence. As Han Yong-un, he was also a founding modern poet. So here are significant accomplishments comparable to those of Thomas Jefferson, Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson, all credited to someone born in 1879, the same year as the American businessman-poet Wallace Stevens. (. . .) In Cho's English renderings, these poems have the power to expand an American reader's notion of poetry." That's quite a strong endorsement!

Former American Poet Laureate Robert Hass, reviewing Ko Un's "Ten Thousand Lives" at about the same moment, included a mention of this book too: "Manhae, writing a sort of rhythmic prose in the manner of Tagore, produced something quite new in Korean literature, a book of intensely spiritual love poems. The situation of the lovers is not clear; even the gender of the beloved is not clear, and Manhae wrote a preface to the book which invited allegorical readings. The loved one is not only the beloved; it is also everything yearned for. If all living beings are the beloved for Sakyamuni, philosophy is the beloved for Kant. If the spring rain is the beloved for the rose, then Italy is the beloved for Mazzini.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kyle R on January 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While I haven't read it through and through yet, these poems by Manhae are a gem that can be easily overlooked. A Korean buddhist monk turned poet, they have a really nice reciprocity to them. You get a direction to follow like "parting" or "introspection" and then by the end of the poem, Manhae has almost said, "actually, reverse that, it's te other way around." It's not a sense of mistaken purpose or a double-standard, it's a Buddhist mentality working its way into the literature. Does the Yin need the Yang or the Yang need the Yin...? Which one defines the other? Do they even bear a definition? These poems make you comfortable in your own heart and mind, which is like a gift, more than it is a poem.

"Bear with Me"

I have no choice but to leave; bear with this parting.
When you go over the ridge, don't look back.
My being is about to enter a grain of sand.

If you can't bear with this parting, bear with my death.
My lifeboat is sinking in a sea of shame.
Blow, make it drown quickly, and be glad for it.

If you can't bear my death, don't favor me with love.
Instead, make yourself unloveable.
I'll enter your heart and live in you.
Bear becoming one with me.
Love me not and I shall not love you.

Pick up this book and enjoy a fresh feeling of renewal in each one of Manhae's thoughts. Enjoy!
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Format: Hardcover
Honestly, while of course the original author and the translator are excellent, it does appear to me that a lot of the details that Manhae included in his poems, which almost approach a narrative quality at times, are not preserved in the translation. It is all a matter of taste. If you like nearly baroque detail and depth, as well as embellishment and the probable multiple meanings Manhae intended for his poems, then I suppose you would need to read the poems in the original or translate them yourself. I fully respect this translator's interpretation and approach, but to me I happen to prefer retaining more of the complex details in translation. Yes, I have read them in Korean. I think I will continue reading them in the original. Korean not being my first language though, I very much appreciate this translation giving me the opportunity to approach these poems in my own language. Anyways, I do greatly appreciate this translation which brings Manhae into English speaking culture and brings his work even closer to my heart.
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