High rising

A poem in Vietnamese by Thanh Tâm Tuyền
Translator: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm
Photography: Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

Breathe easy the thin air up high

Reserve breaths in the pole’s icy wind

Ironclad cold.

Behind the coming and going of clouds

Beneath the deep dark soil

Sounds like. A disappearance.

The mountainous avalanche

The rupture of the eardrum

I’m flustered by the clouds of white dust.

Nurturing a sad flame for no reason at all

Decisive self-immolation 

Mummifications in how many layers of the sky.


Lên cao không khí thở nhẹ loãng

Thở kín buốt gió địa cực

Theo cơn đồng thiếp lạnh ngời.


Dưới vực hút khói mây xông toả

Dưới sâu xa mặt đất chìm

Vần vụ. Biệt tăm.


Sụt lở rặng núi tuyết

Màng nhĩ rách bươm

Tối mắt bụi trắng xóa chập chùng.


Hàn băng lửa trầm u vô thuỷ

Thiêu đốt mình mẩy như cặn ý

Ướp giá khô biết mấy lớp trời.


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.


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