For thirty-three years as a poet
I merrily defined what beauty was.
Each time, without hesitation
I would declare: beauty is like this, or:
this is a betrayal of beauty.
I went crazy over several different kinds
of aesthetic theory.
But beauty was never
in those aesthetic theories.
I was falling asleep
with the light on.
What fear in the days gone by!
From now on I will strictly refrain
from any definitions of beauty!
As if beauty can ever be defined!
All through the weeks of summer rain
no flowers bloomed on the pumpkin creepers.
Now the rains are over
and at long long last a flower has bloomed,
inside it a bee is quivering,
outside it I am quivering.
Pumpkin flower brimming full of life:
you are true beauty!
by Ko Un
from The Sound of My Waves
Cornell East Asia Series, 1996