I can’t bury my heart anywhere on this earth
Peder Balke, The Stormy Sea, The National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Norway, c. 1870.

Language: Korean
Region: South Korea
Poet: Sister Claudia Lee Hae-in
Translator: Paige Aniyah Morris and Esther Kim

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I can’t bury my heart anywhere on this earth

Two poems by Sister Claudia Lee Hae-in
translated from Korean by Esther Kim and Paige Aniyah Morris

Sister Claudia Lee Hae-in is a South Korean poet and essayist, as well as a member of the Olivetan Benedictine Sisters of Busan. Born in Gangwon Province in 1945, she fled to Busan with her family after losing her father at the start of the Korean War in 1950. Her literary career began with the release of her debut poetry collection, The Land of Dandelions (Catholic Books, 1976). Since then, she has enjoyed a long and successful career as a writer beloved in South Korea for her spare style and poems deeply rooted in the self, the earth, and everyday delights. The recipient of a New Sprouts Literature Award, Donga Women’s Prize, Busan Women’s Literature Award, and the Chun Sang-byung Poetry Prize, she is the author of 10 essay collections and 14 poetry collections, including Though I Rise as a Half-Moon Today (Bundo Books, 1983).

Paige Aniyah Morris is a writer and translator from Jersey City, NJ, currently based in South Korea. She holds BAs in Ethnic Studies and Literary Arts from Brown University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University-Newark. The recipient of awards from the Fulbright Program and the American Literary Translators Association, her writing and translations are forthcoming or have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Margins, The Rumpus, Strange Horizons, and more

Esther Kim is a writer, translator, and digital communications manager of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop. She edited the Workshop’s Transpacific Literary Project. She holds a Masters in Korean Literature from the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London) and a Masters in English Literature from the University of Edinburgh. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Literary Hub, Mekong Review, and Words Without Borders. She splits her time between New York and Kuala Lumpur.

바다 새

이 땅의 어느 곳
누구에게도 마음 붙일 수 없어
바다로 온 거야

너무 많은 것 보고 싶지 않아
듣고 싶지 않아
예까지 온 거야

너무 많은 말들을
하고 싶지 않아
혼자서 온 거야

아 어떻게 설명할까
아무에게도 들키지 않은 이
작은 가슴의 불길

물위에 앉아 조용히
식히고 싶어 바다로
온 거 야

미역처럼 싱싱한 슬픔
파도에 씻으며 살고 싶어
바다로 온 거야

Seabird

I can’t bury my heart
anywhere on this earth
So I’ve come to the sea

Not wanting to
hear or see so
much I came this far

Not wanting to say
Too much
I came alone

O, how to explain
this small flame in my chest
No one has found?

I wish to sit over the
water and quietly cool
So I’ve come to the sea

I wish to live, to wash my
grief— fresh as seaweed—in the
waves So I came to the sea

달팽이 노래

비오는 날은 나를
설레게 해요

돌층계 위에서
꿈을 펼치다가
잎새에 묻은 빗방울도 핥으며
사는게 즐거워요

동그란 집 속에 몸을
깊이 감추어도 마음은
닫지 않아요

언젠가는 풀기 위해
감아 두는 나의 꿈

넓은 세상도
사람들도
더욱 잘 보이는
비 오는 날

빗방울 끝에 맺히는
기도의 진주 한 알

미묘한 집 속에
숨어 살아도 늘
행복해요

Snail Song​

Rainy days
excite me

With joy I unfurl my dreams
over the stone steps
I lick the drops
of rain-soaked leaves

Inside my round house
I withdraw, but my heart
does not shut its doors

In the hope that someday
My coiled dreams will unspool

I see the vast world
and its people
Most clearly
On rainy days

A single pearl of prayer
forms on the tip of a
raindrop

Though I live hidden
inside this delicate
house I am always
happy