THE WRITERS POST
VOLUME 5 DOUBLE ISSUE WINTER 2003 SPRING 2004
A DRUNK POEM
(Translated by Tony O’Donnell)
Sitting, and drinking, all alone
My cognac tilting
Sky and earth rotating
Generals, officers, troops and courtiers
All are wavering.
Sitting, and gulping my innermost feelings
The worm in its home is crazily rolling
The kite is dead in the wide open spaces
Swallows gliding in boundless, misty places
Some friends have gone, all of a sudden
My heart also died with the farewell verses.
Sitting, and mumbling private thoughts
Red-eyed, with dimly flickering moon and stars
Maudlin, babbling, and prattling on
Reading a poem ‘til eyes are raining tears
Sitting, and drinking, with ghosts
Exquisite talents in great disarray
Heavenly gifts are on display
Bohemians cluster in their finery
Strings, flutes, castanets; drums, gongs and clarinets
Poetry, songs, paintings and music, all in a mad whirl.
Sitting, and drinking-in Ho Truong*
A toast to the west, vast world so strange
A toast to the East that’s unrestrained
A kiss for the bottle that consoles a bursting heart
Bridges broken bring decades of separation
Those yonder feel compassion for us chained here.
Sitting, and drinking, to see off the turncoats
They who now change their heart and manners
From beginning to end! What Constancy?
Voices buzz about my ears. I close my eyes tightly.
Sitting, and drinking to the future
Singing, leg-slapping and laughingly fussing
Looking at the sad strange scene before me**
The migrant bird twitters its melodious songs
Sitting, and drinking to my country
Dear Mom! Please forgive me, not once could I return. I’m sorry.
[Original poem Bai Tho Say by Song Nhi
Interpretation and the footnotes by Tony O’Donnell:
* Nguyen Ba Trac was a Vietnamese patriot who successfully used both the pen and the sword. Ho Truong is his famous poem, written while drinking wine on a visit to China before he fought against the French. Here, Song Nhi is borrowing Ho Truong to show much he misses his homeland.
** This line is a direct quote from the famous Vietnamese epic poem, Kieu, written by Nguyen Du long ago and readily quoted by the people.]
Editorial note: All works published in this issue are simultaneously published in the printed Wordbridge magazine double issue 3 &4 Winter 2003 & Spring 2004. (ISSN: 1540-1723).
Copyright © Song Nhi 1999, 2004. Nothing in this issue may be downloaded, distributed, or reproduced without the permission of the author/ translator/ artist/ The Writers Post/ and Wordbridge magazine. Creating links to place The Writers Post or any of its pages within other framesets or in other documents is copyright violation, and is not permitted.