A poem in Vietnamese by Tô Thùy Yên
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


You ran from your past

Erased all evidence of yourself

Worried the old vows may perhaps follow you?

What if by accident

We’ll meet again

The heart may sidestep, froze

The door deadlocked

The security code misplaced

Don’t worry

Ignore the storm surround the fire

How wonderful is it to watch heaven soothe the earth

A period of time when I may dream

When all rocks in my brain have shattered, when left is not a hint of anything

How long will a flame survive the wind

Rather sadly. Rather bravely

Glancing over the poem, (em)did you knew then

The source of my suffering was this fire?

To longed for death the way I longed for my parent’s home

To wish I had never met you, to begin again

To all the rough times, rest in peace

The monument of the poem for nothingness wept

Busily in motion was Heaven and earth 

Absentmindedly made the rain and sunlight felt sorry for me

(November 2021)


Bia chú

Em chạy xa chốn cũ

Xóa triệt để dấu mình

Sợ lời thề xưa truy nã chăng?

Giả sử mai sau tình cờ gặp lại

Dừng chân hỏi chào nhau

Lòng sẽ đứng qua bên nhìn bất động

Cửa đóng chết

Anh quên rồi mật khẩu

Em an tâm

Nhớ chi nữa cơn mưa rào bãi cháy

Tuyệt vời trời dỗ đất nguôi ngoai

Thời đó, anh còn dư dả mộng

Chưa nghe đá rã nát trong đầu

Bao lâu ngọn lửa oằn cơn gió

Buồn bã thay. Mà quả cảm thay

Đọc lướt bài thơ, em có biết

Chữ khổ tôi từ lửa ấy không?

Nhớ nỗi chết như nhớ nhà cha mẹ

Ước đi lại đời anh không gặp em

Yên nghỉ nhé, những một thời yểu mệnh

Bài thơ bia chú khóc hư vô

Trời đất mải lo tròn chuyển động

Vô ý làm mưa nắng tội anh


Nguồn: Tạp chí Văn, số 101-102, tháng 5 & 6-2005

Tô Thuỳ Yên (1938-2019) real name was Đinh Thành Tiên, born in Go Vap, Gia Dinh, Vietnam, an alumnus at Petrus Ký and Đại học Văn khoa Sài Gòn. He was a teacher and journalist in Saigon, a Major in the Vietnam Army prior to 1975. After 1975 served 13 years in re-education camps, in 1993, he moved with his family to the United States as a former political prisoner.

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the poet and translator, was born in 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.


  1. This is such an incredible poem! And I am so happy that I got the chance to read it!! The picture too is so meaningful and beautiful. Thank you for sharing this impactful work! I too, sometimes want to run away from my past, but the fire keeps on following me :/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I happy to be able to share such incredible poetry written by an incredible poet. I’ve deleted the old blog to start again with a clean slate, I will sort out all the old translations to showcase them in a better light. My recent trip to the motherland was a turning point. I hope you are well, it’s wonderful to hear from you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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