Han

by | Oct 22, 2010 | 1 comment

Han: a collective feeling of lament, suffering and loss.  That’s the best definition I can come up with.

It has no translation in the English language.

I thought I could sense this han in you Daniel- this collective consciousness of a small, but strong war-torn country that has suffered and lost so much.  It was built into you, despite the way you appeared to others on the outside.  I saw…

There is no translation, but maybe I feel something like this now…and will feel it twenty years from now even more.

I found a collection of poems by Pak Chaesam that I purchased a few years ago as I’ve been unpacking books that were stored away for the past two years.  It’s translated in English next to the original Korean, and I’m sure it loses much, but here is the poem entitled “Han”

Han


Something like the persimmon tree?
Ripening in the sad evening glow,
the tree where the fruits of my heart’s love
ripen.


With room to spread in the next world only,
still it looms behind the one I was thinking of,
falling down from above her head.


It may yet become the fruit
of her overwhelming grief
that she wished to plant
in the yard of her house.
Or would she understand
if I said it was all my sorrow,
all my hope from a previous life,
the color of that fruit?
Or did that person too
live in sorrow through this world?
That I do not know, I do not know.

JAC

October 22, 2010

1 Comment

  1. xteethx

    Reminds me of a Korean poem that struck a chord with me and also has a tinge of han; comfort and love to you, Julia.

    The Rock

    When I die, I wish to be a rock and stand,

    Unstained by any tint of compassion,

    Unmoved by any sorrow or any joy,

    Lashed by the wind and rain,

    Whipped inward, ever inward,

    Muted by a million years of inhumanity,

    Till my life passes ino oblivion,

    Becoming a floating cloud,

    A thunder faraway.

    I wish to be a rock,

    Though dreaming, singing no song;

    Though cleft in two,

    Enduring it in silence.

    -류치환 Lew Chi Whan (1908-1967)

    Translated by Kim Seung Kyu

    Reply

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You May Also Like…

List-making in a Dark Time

List-making in a Dark Time

For any other list-makers out there, I published this on HerStories yesterday.""In this time of quarantine, my lists are offering me space outside of the walls of my home, a way of making sense of chaos, a self-imposed structure on structure-less days, and even a way...

Simple Things

Simple Things

"In our deepest self we keep living with the illusion that we will always be the same." Henri Nowen "It's really very simple," my late spiritual director, Gladys, once said to me. She was talking about how she lived each day, waking up, having a written conversation...

Continuous Living

Continuous Living

"Anxiety turns us toward courage, because the other alternative is despair." Paul Tillich I've claimed "seasonal affective disorder" for years, and that may be so, but I'm starting to realize it's not only summer to fall that is hard for me. It's winter to spring, and...