Of course it hurts when buds burst.
Otherwise why would spring hesitate?
(From Karin Boye’s “Of Course it hurts”)
This is the first verse of the poem “Of course it hurts,” known as one of the most beloved Swedish poems of all time by Karin Boye (1900-1941). The poem was published in a book of poems titled “For the Tree’s sake” in 1935. This verse is frequently quoted to express the difficulties of changes in daily life. The poem is also cited to express anxieties and abrupt changes in adolescence. Some quote it to reflect the wonders of love and death; others see it as a decisive moment in which the new gives way to the old.
I seek solace in this poem when embracing change, rather than resisting it. My profession as a diplomat requires frequent changes of the environment every few years. I relocate to a new country and strive to understand new cultures.
I am moved and humbled when I hear my Korean colleagues speak of the massive changes Korea has gone through over the past decades. While I feel deeply moved by Korea’s ceaseless economic, democratic, and cultural changes that inspire the world, I feel humbled when I think of the changes inflicted on individual lives while going through these changes. Of course, the changes are for the better, and adapting to changes is not always easy. Perhaps this poem created 100 years ago might provide some insight for Korea. This is how the poem ends:
“Then, at the point of agony and when all is beyond help,
the tree's buds burst as if in jubilation,
then, when fear no longer exists,
the branch's drops tumble in a shimmer,
forgetting that they were afraid of the new,
forgetting that they were fearful of the journey -
feeling for a second their greatest security,
resting in the trust that creates the world.”