Thứ Hai, 17 tháng 10, 2011


                           TA QUANG TRUNG
                       Wild Grass

Translated from the Vietnamese
by Dam Xuan Can.

I have resigned to my loneliness
like a star lost at the edge of the universe
sailing in darkness
with anguish and sorrows
loves and hates,
with fading ideals
and deeds which meet defeat;
for I have resigned myself to be a blade of wild grass
that grows and increases in this corner of the land.
And I have lulled myself to a deep sleep
 of a mass of empty promises;
in the prison the awareness of liberty exerts itself,
the dream of paradise flowers in hell.

And I have seen the soul decay
and the body tire
and  my two hands wasted
and my past defiled
 by more than one treachery.
I have resigned myself to be an annymous blade of grass
in the botanical garden
which the giant's heel tramples on without pity.

So many times has hatred possessed me
when the  will has wished to overcome fate
and the mind has carried this bitterness
of anonymous grasses, insignificant,
trampled underfoot as a nation is trampled.

And I have seen myself awakened, wild of looks
gazing at buds withered
and trees parched
by the fires of days and years,

Reduced to this vegetable state,
I pray in silence
that I may remain forever a blade of grass
which grows on this dear land
to bear all the outrages in store for the little and the weak,
all the humiliations of today.

                                                                 DU TU LÊ
Translated from the Vietnamese
by Dam Xuan Can

                                    1) Oh! This is nothing

I have already told you, sleep my little love,
The bullets crack constanly but they carck so far away
Even if their loud din siounds near tomorrow
That will change nothing, nothing will shock us
Not surprising is it , indeed, since we came into the world
The bullets have cracked in our honour; the fires have
                                                 raised their flames of joy
The days have suffered, the nights have sobbed
And in the heart of the land
So many and so many lives are laid to rest
So many and so many looks of terror
Som many and so many feet have dragged
So many and so many fingers have prepared to pull the trigger
The threatening air
Now the rows of barbed wire warn my friends and I who have  almost given up
And the trumpet  sounds harass us, they drive us mad.
I have already told you, sleep my little love
Oh all this, it is nothing, such has life been for a good long time
Such is life, it is nothing, don't you know ?

                             2)   When one dies young

When  the killed in action is only a chap under twenty-one,
What is left  for him to bring to the world beyond?
The rifle is too bulky for him to  keep;
And he surely.does not have the heart to give the unused grenades to his parents
Hapiness has never been fully within his tiny grasp.
And love is merely a vague thing in his splattered brain.

He asks himself why he must die,
Truth, as usual, remains hidden till the agony.

All of sudden he realises youthfulness;
All of sudden he senses the futile death;
Alas, everything is too late,
And his only reward is his very last breath.

The soul is fading away, but the eyes are still turning backwards
On his footsteps
Countless people are dutifully following

                                              HOANG KHOI PHONG

Translated from the Vietnamese
by Dam Xuan Can

                                          This is for my son not yet born and named

I am twenty-four    I am not married, but have many sweethhearts;
Yet as a man I must think of the future,
I will get married to one whom I love.
Problably I will then be twenty-eight and your mother just turned twenty.
On the wedding nigh I  will pretend to forget I am a soldier,
I will whisper to your mother about my long-cherished  plan;
At last you will see today.
But the war will in all likelihood outlast my life,
So I must think of your future in the very first with your mother.
When you are born you will be as beautiful as your mother and more intelligent than I am ;
You'll carry out my plan bravely.
I am sure I cannot be with you always.
I war bullets are insensitives.
These words you'll see and grasp through your mother
When you're about to enter high school
 I want to say frankly to you
                             You'll be with your mother more oftwen.
Because of one or another reason ( infancy or the war for instance)
She is very clever
                                  whilst I am but a soldier.
All the time I wish your life were different from mine.
I won't be able to give you a handsome amount of money;
I hope you'll have a happy childhood
Because I knew of battles and their tragic aftermath as a child.
Whatever the situation your mother and I wish you to finish high school
I n the  event of the call-up you'll be an officer - it's better that way.
It is good for you to learn one of the arts;
Poetry, writing or painting enables you to express yourself;
Music makes you relaxed and unlikely to indulge in delusions of youth.
Don't be like me.  I hope in the pub whenever afight ends;
I drink to forget the slaughter and to drown sadness;
Do you know drinking only makes my sadness more acute.
Your mother reproaches me a lot, but she gives in soon,
After all she prefers meeting me in a pub than in gambling dens or brothels
It is not because I do not love her.
                                                   I love her more than  myself.
But I am a soldier,
And the war does, short of killing me body and soul when I am away from her
It is very good for you to know an art.
I know artists suffer a lot in a small and weak country.
They simply are not free and do not have enough to eat -
 I want you to express your feelings and pave the way for those coming after yon.
This is reason I am writing these lines to you.
In case I die
                  before the war ends,
You'll be a mona then.  You 'll  fight in my place to achieve peace.
If I die
          and peace returns,
Praise peace,
                   Denounce war.  But in deadly seriousness,
I must say to you,
                   Rebuild the nation
                                              Regain our pride.
You should concern yourself with this all your life.
Without any help from me, you should know yourself.

(   from TENGGARA 4 / April 1969).

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