Still you

A poem in Vietnamese by Thanh Tâm Tuyền
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Art: Đinh Trường Chinh

Still you the misty moonlit meadows

Hair loose flying steeped in the dying night

Still you the forest valley’s unfurling darkness

The sound blackness blinding quick mist

Still you the river delta the summer constellation

Time shattering breathlessness

Still you the trees leaning in each turn

The excited mist staying up all night teasing the leaves

Still you the heaving chest the coveted storm

Nothing at all, the scuffling of nothingness 

Still you the storm against the mountainside

The aching intangible gateway between heaven and earth

Still you the soft pervious white clouds

Stunned by its mystic reflection across the seas

Still you the sudden blooming quivering Queen of the Night

Our nightly world quietly wrapped tightly in its scent

VẪN EM

– 

Vẫn em đồi trăng phơi mờ hoặc

Tóc buông giải thẫm xoá canh thâu

Vẫn em rừng lũng khuya trốt lộng

Ngút đen mắt lạc ruổi tin sương

– 

Vẫn em đồng sông sao trời hạ

Phập phồng tan nát lượng thời gian

Vẫn em dáng cây nghiêng nẻo khuất

Sương muộn ham mê thức lá buồn

Vẫn em ngực thở vùi cơn bão

Trải niềm không, xô xát niềm không

Vẫn em trận mưa giông vách núi

Mở buốt mông lung ngõ đất trời

– 

Vẫn em thoáng trắng mây hiền hậu

Ngẩn ngơ soi mặt biển điêu linh

Vẫn em đóa quỳnh run hoảng nở

Hương thầm choàng riết cõi đêm ta.

– 

2-73

(Giai phẩm Văn tháng 11.1973)


Thanh Tâm Tuyền (1936-2006), real name Dư Văn Tâm, was a poet, as well as critic, editor, fiction writer, and playwright. He was born in Vinh, moved to Saigon in 1954, emigrated to the US in 1983, and died in Minnesota in 2006. (Source: Wikipedia)

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the blogger, 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.

12 comments

      1. heheh, thanks, I’ve been crucified more than a few times. My language skills are poor in both English and Vietnamese, the grammar at the beginning was shocking, but I love maths, I see these patterns, it seems to work out if I trust my instinct. Being a book nerd all my life really helped. The history of words, idioms and so on are all so captivating, I’m drawn to their history, origin and how they have evolved over mere decades LOL.. Sorry, I can go on and on forever.. I hope your Sunday will bring you as much joy as it had mine. Cheers. Trâm.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Thank you, your words means everything. I’ve too busy trying to survive life in general, children, husband, poetry was something innate. I can’t believe poetry has brought me here to this very moment in both vernacular. So unexpected.

        Liked by 1 person

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