THE WRITERS POST

(ISSN: 1527-5467)
the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.

VOLUME 7 NUMBER 2

JUL 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

SONG NHI

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THE UNFORTUNATES

 

†††††††††††††††††††† translated by byHo Thi Tam and Tony O'Donnell

 

 

Awake, in this present incarnation,

to a world of strife and consternation

so different to Au Lac's* calm sightings,

my refuge - Vietnam's classic writings.

 

While in my mind my mother's lullabies -

I love the rhymes of those folk-songs so wise.

Then peace, it is said, having been restored

a nightmare follows the fire and the sword.

 

How can it be that from one river's source

opposing currents meet and whirl with force?

At start of conflict between South and North

what the offence or crime gave war its birth?

 

When from mankind humanity departs,

and faced with violence from human hearts,

my trembling soul like a wild bird became

my life's uncertain burden in my name.

 

When gaping craters from the bombs and mines

obstruct that love which two fond hearts entwines

then in rice fields both desolate and wild

I whisper, Love! to Motherland, from child.

 

When river's currents flow as one again

people who seek to ease each other's pain

find hate and rancour do not soon abate

and life with sorrow starts to suffocate.

 

When mountains slide, or river's banks have grown

I am not carved from wood nor hewn from stone;

my heart is hurt at times of others' blows

it writhes and spasms and their torture knows.

 

 

When with at least a hundred things to say

and words stuck in my throat cause dismay,

for language is itself now full of strife,

poetry helps me give my thanks for life.

 

My soul transforming into smoke and cloud;

my heart beats like the sea with waves so loud;

so long forsaken, this flock of wild birds

in homeland's sunset - can their cries be heard?

 

(this interpretation by Ho Thi Tam

and Tony O'Donnell, - Mar 2002)

 

Translatorís note: *In Vietnamese legend Au Lac are the beings (Lac Long Quan - Dragon Lord of Lac - and Au Co - a Chinese immortal), one from the mountains and the other from the sea, from whose marriage union the one hundred eggs were laid which became the Vietnamese people. Much later, in about 258 BC, Au Lac was also the name given to the state as it existed at that time and which lasted for about 50 years. Song Nhi here refers to an earlier golden age.

 

 

The Writers Post
the magazine of literature

& literature-in-translation,

founded 1999, based in the US.

 

VOLUME 7 ISSUE 2 JULY 2005

 

Editorial note: Works published in this issue are simultaneously published in the printed Wordbridge magazine (ISSN: 1540-1723).

Copyright © Ho Thi Tam & Tony O'Donnell 2005. Nothing in this magazine 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.

 

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