The aim of this paper is to propose a new reading of the Blue Deer Anthology, that was published almost immediately after Liberation, from a postcolonial viewpoint. Until now, the standard evaluation of the Anthology has been discussed in terms of the discovery of nature, traditional rhythms, the linking of popular poetry and pure poetry, the combination of a rural consciousness and a nationalistic esthetic. But I wish to offer a new reading of the Anthology, claiming that although the 39 poems comprising it were mostly composed before the 1945 Liberation, since it was published just after Liberation, in 1946, the composition of the Anthology as such was influenced by the discourse specific to the period of the ‘colonial aftermath’ and the postcolonialism that arose immediately after Liberation.. In other words, the poems of the Anthology are not just pure nature poems, but should be seen as ‘rebellions’ poems of decolonializing cultural resistance, resisting the power of imperialism.
If we summarize the common features shared by the three poets included in the Anthology, Bak Mok-wol, Jo Ji-hun and Bak Du-jin, we discover the following： as they celebrate nature and express Korean sentiments through nature, they introduce an awareness of a break with the burdens of a colonized nation. They also reveal a postcolonial desire to quit the diseased territories polluted by imperialism and return to nature as it was prior to pollution and disease. They also introduce, as a shared characteristic, the claim that they are constructing an alternative form of nature, an imaginary Utopia, as a method of casting off the pollution of imperialism.
However, from the viewpoint of postcolonial methodology, each of the three poets is distinct in literary terms. Bak Mok-wol, confronted with a desire for a geographical transformation of the land colonized by imperialism, resists imperialism by creating an imaginary geography as a form of cultural resistance. One characteristic of his poetry is the way it is influenced by folk song rhythms, with 3 feet in a line, divided into 7/5 syllables. By means of this traditional rhythm, he stresses the rural order in his poetry, and by evoking imaginary localities in various poems he exhibits a decolonializing resistance, transforming the Korean landscape that had been pillaged by Japanese imperialism into “the heart’s map,” “vision’s map，” “an imaginary Utopia.” This decolonizing strategy is similar to that found in Yeats’ “Innisfree.” Jo Ji-hun introduces in various poems a postcolonial resistance that sets out to restore and preserve the original forms of Korean culture, that had been changed and polluted by Japan. Bak Du- jin introduces a view of nature and poetic rhythms that are very different from the other two poets. Unlike the traditional rhythms of the other two, he uses a prosaic style, while by a breathless sequence of nouns, and the use of repeated nouns and clauses, he show a powerful sense of rhythm and stress. In Bak Tu-jin’s poems, nature is not a metaphor for the refashioning of a colonial reality or for an occupied homeland. Rather it is a space of liberation, of rejoicingat the return of a Messiah, like that manifested by the prophets such as Isaiah or Jeremiah in the Old Testament. He is not confined in a nationalistic imagination, but by means of the globalistic image of human salvation proposed by Christianity he expresses a narrative of liberation in opposition to colonialism.
Hitherto, many critics have read the Anthology as a volume of nature poems, of pure poetry, but here it is read as poetry of postcolonial cultural resistance. Seen from the viewpoint of Edward Said, who criticizes cultural indigenization or nationalism, saying “they confine themselves to an inferior place created by the imperialists, casting aaway the historical world for a sad narcissism praising their own integrity and an essential narcissism，” it is the poems of Bak Tu-jin, rather than the works of Bak Mok-wol or Jo Ji-hun, that transcend nationalism and cultural indigenization and come closer to a narrative of decolonializing liberation, expressing a universal ideal.
However, we may conclude that, insofar as the Anthology, composed in the very particular moment of the ‘colonial aftermath/ was composed with a strong postcolonizing desire, setting out to erase the pollution of colonial rule, restoring and preserving the Korean people’s cultural integrity from the time before colonial domination, all three poets can be said to manifest a decolonizing desire.