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


The afternoon hovered above the burial ground.

The autumn drifted void of fragrance besides the pungent scent of cut grass.

The sparkle of a diminishing summer at the edge of one’s vision.

Homes tucked behind sparse forest trees at the foot of the hill.

Sit and watch. Sit and think.

The chill of the breeze cuts short the thoughts.

Sit as heaven’s sowing. The sowing of one’s own butchering.

Sleeps eyes wide open unaware.

[August 2021]


Tặng Ngọc Dũng tức công tử Chí Hoà

Chiều chiều lững thững lên bãi tha ma.

Trời thu la đà không mùi hương trừ mùi cỏ ngái.

Trong khoé mắt hoen ửng loé góc trời mùa hạ đang lụn.

Những hàng bia lởm chởm sau lưng trên cỏ mượt ngả màu.

Dưới chân đồi xóm nhà ở sau rừng cây thưa.

Ngồi ngắm. Ngồi ngẫm.

Gió mát đầu óc bay tảng.

Ngồi như trời trồng. Tự trồng cái bị thịt.

Ngủ mở mắt thao láo không hay.


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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