I understood you were leaving for the East;
I filled for you this glass of rosy yeast.
The wine would soften your lips, you would cry;
And I laughed - Did you understand why?

I felt as if you were departing for the West;
I served you with this fermented glassful of quest.
The wine would spice your eyes like balm;
And I watched tears dropping into my palm.

It seemed as if you were setting out for the South;
I entrusted to you this brandy to douse the drouth.
The wine would stain your jacket, smirched;
And, from the party, in the moon you lurched.

You made as if you were going to the North;
I have invested in your glass the pearls henceforth.
The wine would bid you "Adieu!" for my sake;
Do not look back at your small bamboo gate!

I gave you the send-off, oh, the parting time!
No winds in woods and clouds in sky could rhyme.
Flowers, let pervade this royal park sweet scent!
It was, indeed, a farewell -- my bosom friend!


           Vietnamese poem by VI KHUÊ

           English translation by THANH-THANH