The hue of time

A poem in Vietnamese by Đoàn Phú Tứ
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

The hue of time

Upon dawn is the crystal clear sound of birdsongs

Inside the cool tones of the wind 

Carried gently is the warm scent of a spring yearning


The days of old are no longer cold, the Qin consort

To her we offer our quiet offerings

A cloudy sky lightly steeped in time


The hue of time is not cool

The hue of time is a soothing purple

The scent of time is lightly scented

The scent of time is a limpid tone


Hair is like clouds like a golden dagger

In reticence seclusion she served the emperor

To rather betray his desire

Than him to have seen her ravaged by time


A fateful hundred year is severed

In the lingering scent of an old love

The scent of time is a limpid tone

The hue of time is a soothing purple

(October 2021)



Màu thời gian

Sớm nay tiếng chim thanh

Trong gió xanh

Dìu vương hương ấm thoảng xuân tình


Ngàn xưa không lạnh nữa, Tần phi

Ta lặng dâng nàng

Trời mây phảng phất nhuốm thời gian


Màu thời gian không xanh

Màu thời gian tím ngát

Hương thời gian không nồng

Hương thời gian thanh thanh


Tóc mây một món chiếc dao vàng

Nghìn trùng e lệ phụng quân vương

Trăm năm tình cũ lìa không hận

Thà nép mày hoa thiếp phụ chàng


Duyên trăm năm dứt đoạn

Tình một thuở còn hương

Hương thời gian thanh thanh

Màu thời gian tím ngát





Đoàn Phú Tứ, the poet, playwright, and translator, was born and died (1910-1989) in Hanoi, Vietnam. He graduated high school in 1932 and left halfway through a law degree to pursue a career in newspapers like Phong hoá, Ngày nay, Hà Nội báo, and Tinh Hoa. He was the core advocate at the time for an unconventional literary movement. Đoàn Phú Tứ was a prolific playwright, the stage was his main source of creativity and thus rarely composes poetry, he was also the translator for the works of many renowned Western authors.

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.

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