Thứ Sáu, 26 tháng 10, 2012
south vietnam the baby in the arms of the american nurse -poems by the phong - 1
the baby in the arms of the american nurse-
poems by the phong, saigon 1970.
south vietnam, the baby
in the arms of the american nurse *
poems by the phong
translated by ĐÀM XUÂN CẬN
Nothing is harder to understand than women
Nothing is more cruel than war
Why on earth are there so many women and soldiers
in this terrible war?
This nagging question keeps torturing me ...
" FROM THE DIARY OF 2LT NGUYEN QUOC VAN
9 TH AIRBORNE BATTALION, APO 4394 "
Former 2 Lieutenant NGUYỄN QUỐC VĂN
[1943- 1968 saigon]
NOTE TO THIS EDITION
I express my gratitude to The Phong for entrusting his poems to me for translation into English. His encouragement and collaboration have been invaluable at every stage in the production of the book.
In this edition every care has been taken to avoid misprints and some minor corections in the text have been carried out.
I would be deeply grateful to all who care to point out any of the translation mistakes which are bound to have crept into the text.
Saigon South Vietnam - August, 1970.
ĐÀM XUÂN CẬN
1. proud to be a vietnamese
You are a Vietnamese soldier. Be proud
The unbreakable flow of bullets and rockets bruises you, staggers you,
singing the praises
You are a beast of shackle. Can you not love your country then ?
Do not envy anyone
even if you have to live at subsistence level
Americans are a special lot. They are stinking with money,
their arsenal is fantastic ...
Do you believe
that the pay of all of us, including you comes from their treasure ?
Just as one single dollar is worth more than two hundred piasters
So a single word from the adviser-cum-master carries more weight than
a hell lot of our ideas
In the battefields we shed blood
so that our just cause will prevail some day
I say this
although I am pretty sick of hollow words like peace, independence, and freedom .
I also know the two Vietnams are hirelings of world powers
We cannot control the fate of ourselves and of your country .
This is because
we are poor and hungry
we are weak and powerless
If we are a chain ridden race
we ought to be proud of it
Be apologetic to the Allied advisers
even when they are to blame
Forget about your own youth full of scars
I know this
and I ask you never to utter a cry
never, never ...
Don' t be shaken by the reporter who wrote in sorrow
" In Cam Ranh the Allied MP' s stripped Vietnamese girls
to search for smuggled goods
We are agreeable to their right of search, but could you explain to me
Why they tore down bras and slips, and why they molested our national flag ..."
Close our eyes
pretend to see nothing
You know damn well you are not in a position to do anything about it
Of course you may blush for the weakness of your countrymen
These days we are worse than beasts, would you believe ?
( A beast does not stand idle while its mate is bullied )
We all knew of this through a kindergarten texbook of good conduct.
Right! Right! We are no longer ourselves in our own land
I still ask you to be proud to be a Vietnamese
our country will know its days
Our people are tired of endless suffering. Come and rule over us !
O peace !
Of your friends
count the dead
and count the living
Do not forget those who died unburied, do not let them die for nothing
Do you not believe an ' American ' militiaman
fought because of his goddam salary
None of us could ever bring himself to be a mercenary ...
Be assured ! This land ours
will be plentiful of mineral ores
The stratofortresses are doing just that for us, apart from other things
which I hate to tell you .
When they come
the mighty earth shakes violently, ceaselessly
As if under the spell of the macabre music you hear in churches on Sundays
I ask you our sworn enenies,
to be proud
that after twenty years of terrible war
You still stand in your feet
while the strafortresses rain millions of tons of bombs and rockets
You deserve to be called true heroes of endurance
I never question this
I only ask you to open your eyes wide enough
To see your country
being reduced to a happy hunting ground
Should we resign ourselves to this
untill doomsday ?
Is it not fair
whether the end of the ordeal is in the offing ?
No matter how you feel
do not go all funny
do not show resentment to Allied soldiers
This bunch of white, browns, blacks and reds
came here to our rescue
They brought with them
and plastic wrapped goods
They are pretty right if you are aware our encestral enemies
the goddam Chinese
Are ready at all times to march in to force domination upon us
Is does not tale long because they are right at our doorstep
Do not be galled by the sight of boards reading,
" No Admittance to Locals"
bury your face in your hands
then cast a long glance at the sea
And the mountains and forests and meadows and streams. This country is ours.
O when our country cease to be a baby in arms
I have been in every corner of our country
Wherever I was I could not help a grip at my heart
It is so painful to know we are longer able to feed ourselves
every toilet roll
every piaster of our earnings
Do not come from our land
Do not go all funny, man
the mountainous sorrow will make of you a philosopher
Not long before long
we will have no more taste left for bucolic poetry
Instead, we will write treatises on human despair
I know you
do not want to have any more talk about it ...
I only want to tell you
Do not let the foreigners whore your wives
Do not approve of mixed marriage
however profitable it seems
Educate your children
on the hardships and misfortunes of today
To live in suffering is to live deservedly
When you go out in the streets
when you are on operation in the countryside
Try hard to protect our women and girls
Do not act like goddam strangers
( No decent fellow can afford to be a foreigner in his own country )
Cool down man !
when you are taken as undesirable background in photographs
When you see the Yanks going out of the PX, all smiles
Cool down man !
When you have not enough to live on
it goes without saying
You should refrain from buying gifts for your girl friend of your own race .
SAIGON - NHA TRANG-
poem by the phong
* Dai Nam Van Hien Books, Saigon 1970.