THANH NHUNG


POEMS IN TRANSLATION


Look Down
(
Xin Ci Xuống Thật Gần)

Immoral like the promise for peace
Are bullets and bombs that shatter the rice bowl in the child's hands.
Security even Hell can offer
To those souls knowing no treason against their motherland.

Stop talking about the country
In terms no one cares to define.
With compassion open your heart
To extinguish cruel fires.

The old mother does not gather her children's bones
To build foundation for democracy.
Huddled in the womb of worn out mother earth
The corpses have no chance to confess their deep wishes.

Please listen to the pain
Of a hand chopped off from the body,
Of thick forests
Nakedly turned into deserts.

Please look down closely to earth
Reaching out to the quivering voice of the old mother in prayers
Bringing peaceful sleep so the child's eyes are filled with joy
And murmur of the ocean be a song of peace.

Kuala Lumpur, January 1975

[An early translation entitled “Please Look Down Closely” was published in Tenggara,
No. 7 (1975), p. 16.]


Softly
(
Nhẹ)

Passion
Like a dropping tear, burns hot
Falling into emptiness.
The heart, yet, murmurs its longing.

I pray for kisses of butterfly lightness
The gaze the purity of crystal dew
My heart a cloud reflected in deep water.
Fragmented, when comes a rush of wind.

I drink words on lips lightly touching
Receive love from eyes of gentle forgiveness
My heart trembling softly.
Freed, from infinite loneliness.

Kuala Lumpur, February 1975


Self
(
Tm Thức )

Come not to me
Wishing to find perfect beauty
In hair a river of poetry
And laughter inspiration for music.

In the center of my being
Are confused personal feelings and love for my country.
My words and laughter
Betray the alienation of this century.

I know not how to worship
Jade and glittering gold in multitude.
I write poetry
To sing of human suffering.

My separate world
Is wide open for friends
Lost in the crowd
To gather and talk until dawn.

Please come to me
As one would enter this wordly life
Welcoming surprises gladly
Expecting disappointment.

Penang, April 1975

[An early translation entitled “Self” was published in Westerly, No. 4 (Dec. 1976), p. 30.]



Loss
(
Tiu Hao )

By tormenting footsteps
Days followed days
Through my soul of dead leaves
Through my soul blanketed in mist.

When mid-life by gray hair was marked
Regrets came flooding
Sad melody repentance sang
Of the springs forever gone.

Exotic foreign places enraptured the mind
Dressed in glowing academic garb
All bewildered, my poetic soul
Took refuge in the subconscious.

The dry ink-crusted pen
Mirrors feelings in sleep
Yearning for motherland's flowers and grass
Fragrance of poetry.

In this life is reincarnated
Myself a migratory bird
Traversing the immense ocean
The way back unmapped.

Far far away fading sunlight
Deepens emptiness of the heart.
Melancholy drips silence
In longing head bows.

Vancouver, 1981

Return to:
* Thanh Nhung, 1958-1970
* Thanh Nhung, 1971-2000
* Thanh Nhung
* Home Page

Copyright © 2001 by Nha Trang Pensinger