At Thirty, the Party Is Over

by Choe Young-mi

Fact is,
the revolutionaries were cooler than the revolution,
the booze was better than the bar,
and that 'O My Comrade' anthem
sucked —
(though I did hum along to those corny love songs).
But what the hell —

the party is over,
the booze has run dry, wallets are emptied and, finally,
even he's left —
but, although the bill's been split, and they've all got their
and even though the place is deserted —
I know there's someone still lurking
wiping tables clean for the boss
remembering all the highs and shedding hot tears
someone who knows every word of the unfinished songs
someone — not him — who'll maybe
set up the tables by morning
who'll invite them all back
who'll rig up the lighting and repaint the stage —

sure. But what the hell.

The literal translation of this poem was made by Kyoo Lee

The final translated version of the poem is by Sarah Maguire


  1. September 16th, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Kltranslation says:

    Wow, interesting! A really subtle and interesting poem that manages to comment on South Korean politics without being too obvious. Thank you!

  2. December 3rd, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Marco says:

    Great website! I love this poem. Thanks.

  3. August 21st, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Isam says:

    Both of the two transltions are good ;forthe poem itself is excellent and its axial theme is too strong and clear to be submerged by translation

  4. August 25th, 2011 at 6:11 pm

    Missvi says:

    lovely.  i like the frankness of the voice.

  5. February 18th, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Bobby(from wyoming) says:

    yo love the poetry, really drew me into it.

  6. March 21st, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    Hayeon Na says:

    Here is an alternative translation of the poem sent in by Hayeon Na:

    Of course I know,

    Yes, Of course I know that I've enjoyed
    the revolutionist rather than the revolution,
    the bar rather than the drinks.

    And when I was lonely,
    I've enjoyed the sweet low hum of a love song
    Rather than an 'O Comrade' anthem.

    But does it matter now?
    The feast is over.

    the liquor's gone,
    and though people left one by one;
    finally even he,
    after paying their dues,
    and finding their shoes,

    I know, in the back of my mind,

    There will be somebody here, alone,
    cleaning up the table for the hostess,
    remembering everything with her bitter scalding tears,

    she will finish the unfinished song that he had started.

    Yes, maybe, I know.

    she will set up the table and call them back
    before the sunrise.

    she will light the stage once more
    with all preparations done.

    But does it matter now?
    But does it matter now.