Thứ Hai, 9 tháng 1, 2012


                                                      In  A Time of Disturbance In Saigon
                                                                 poem by THEPHONG.

                                                                                 translated by Đàm Xuân Cận

à toi,  Lê Kim Dung, ma bien aimée.

 It was noon.  A big crow in Saigon looked up
The sun was turning
         purple, green, yellow
Buddha was shedding tears
I looked up too
         what was it happening
( People are talking of the age  old prophecies of Trang Trinh...)
It was a misty morning in Dalat
The pilgrims
          from anywhere
                     were climbing Lang Bian Heights
A story was spreading
           any disease could be cured
           by fire and incense
Standing at the top
I looked at the swarming crowd
True, our life today was too tiring
          people would go anywhere for some help
All of us were as the edge of an unfathomable abyss...
O my girl student I met by chance
What do you have if it's not love my dear
We need many things
           a  hell a lot of things
Things will be worse
            before they are better
Love is as pressing as freedom from hunger and thirst
Without it
            my life is a nullity, a void...
I hope
            you'll share my faith in our land
Our faith in the  future of each of us
 You'll be back
             you will be with me
          real love
          is what we need
This shabby land
           should be destroyed by fire or by water or both
We 'll build the sun anew
Once the river had flown
          it will never roll back same again.

Oct., 30, 1963.

Yes, a predestined encounter
I was haunted by you
         week after week
Now in hot, sweaty Saigon
         my heart is still in cool Dalat
I am thankful for all that
         even if I am stripped of possessions
I would give all
          for that precious encounter
( When  we shared opur compassion for our wretched land
          It really uplifted me )
How  I hope
          to see you again.

It was night
          Saigon was as sad as a graveyard
Alas,  poor people
          were making love
           even when they had empty bellies
 I had been without a woman
           for a long, long time
So at night I kept thinking of strange words...
An eighteen year old girl
           talked of sex
           as expertly as a doctor
( Even  when she was only a hairdresser).

" My being at home
          at night
           was not necessary
My stepfather
           would try to seduce me
            he was a horrible man...
I want follow my love
           who has never pressed about marriage
 As far as Dalat to pass the night together
We will be warm, we will be cold
And forget all, all, all...
I want to follow any man
I am thinking of dead young men
            who will never come back
My presence
            in the family
            at night
            is not necessary at all ".

My mates
            have gone
I am left alone
            in this dark, mean place
Where has the red sun gone
            I have not seen
            the student again
Now I am worrying
           where will my next meal come from
Lfe is so difficult
           a small cup of coffee
           has become a luxury
Apart from this,
 I cannot believe what I read
             what I am told
I'm so miserable
           I have no tears left
( The people in the West are so mature !)
We are so childish
           in spite of our long history
We are so weak
          we depend on outside aid too much
We are so immature
            we dare not have a cool
            look at ourselves.
( Anyway mysimple remedy is as follows)
Let us take care of ourselves
            we are sick of advice
             no counsel
             no, nothing.

Let us refuse any aid
            as long as we are not equals
( Two lovers who share the same bed but  have
             different dreams would do better to part )
Just let us
           live on our own
So that we can be ourselves
It is noon
 The people of Saigon
          are looking at the sun
They wait
All of us wait.

Saigon -  October, 30,  1963.

(  from "UpliftingPoems,
  Dai Nam Van Hien Books , Saigon 1974 ).

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