We promise one another / poems from an Asian war
Don Luce and... introduced ..
DAUGHTER OF VIỆTNAM
By Tố Hữu ( b. 1920 - d. 2002 )
TỐ HỮU is one of the greatest living poets of Việtnam . He has
consistently expressed the hopes of the revolutionary forces in his
country . Born in Huế in 1920 , he was arrested for anti-colonial
activities when he was nineteen , but escaped three years later .
He became president of the Committee of Resurrection of Huế in
1945 . In 1951 , he was admitted as a member to the Central
Commitee of the Lao Động ( Workers ) Party .
He is respected for having achivied in his work a remarkable
synthesis of traditional and modern motifs and for his sensi -
tivity to the aspiration of the common people of Việtnam .
( DON LUCE ' s note )
Who are you my sister , young girl or ghost ?
How old are you or have you no age ?
Is this your hair or clouds or stream ?
Are those your eyes that look at me ?
Or was it the lightning in the storm ?
Is your body flesh or bronze ?
Let me kiss your frozen feet ,
Let me hold tight your hands ,
Your fragile hands , your abused body .
Wake up my sister ,
The nightmare is over ,
You live again , sister ,
You really live ;
The searing electric shock ,
The piercing point ,
The brilliant knife ,
The consuming fire ,
Have not killed you , heroic girl ,
You heart , my sister
With one drop of blood
It will beat again
And it will not beat for you alone .
It will beat for justice ,
For your native village , for your country ,
For humanity .
From the regions of death , you have come back
\ to us
As on the day you went away when the nation called ;
You have come back . daughter of glory ,
The whole country embraces you
As flesh of its fleshs and blood of its blood ,
You live again for you have conquered.
The whole country is by your side
Surrounding the white sheets of your bed .
I sing for you as your mother did in days gone by
Rocking you to the song of the Thu Bồn ferrymen
The whole country is yours ,
For you it gives blood , day after day
To recolour your cheeks ,
To add luster to your hair ,
Your body will regain the charm of a flower .
You will stand erect on firm legs ,
You steady feet will return to their native village
You will go on that immense , wild road
As in days gone by
When silver stars shone ,
Oh, your bright eyes , when they look at me
May they always shine with that steely glint ,
With that flame of confidence ,
The glint and confidence of your native land
Oh my sister , daughter of Việtnam .
TỐ HỮU .
( from WE PROMISE ONE ANOTHER - poems from an asain war , selected, translated
by DON LUCE , JOHN C. SCHAFER & JACQUELYN CHAGNON , published by
The Indochina Mobile Education Project, Washington, D.C. 1971 - p. 52 - 54 ).