The two blocks of seats in the cathedral wide   

Divided the believers, separated the lovers too.

Since childhood, the prayers not yet known through,

We had to kneel down on each of the Image's side:

The Savior parted us, on the left me, on the right you.


Time passed fast, pushing us from the first line

Gradually down to the middle rows to sit.

Your hair had grown long, my first love strong wine,

I looked sideways rather than straight at the altar fit.

Sideways in my row there was an angel like a dream:

Even not fervent, I went to church for you, my nice.

If on Sunday I glanced in your direction with a beam

But did not see you there, I felt I had lost Paradise.


Then God took compassion on the two infatuated,

Allowing me to lead up to the pulpit my sprite,

Exchange wedding rings, kneel as to be graduated,

And wish for a forever side-by-side happy life bright.

After that, we got back to the middle row in His light.


Time had not been enough after our such treats

To drive both of us down to the last row of seats,

Back in front of the altar I already had to send you,

In hot tears, in dull spirit and dumb mind, so blue!

Why have you hid yourself in that coffin, how cold!

Leaving me lonely, pain unable to withhold,

Standing abandoned, got lost in the holy place.


From now on, having my time-worn age to face,

How could I endure my life's remaining days!

In the cathedral I am still used to glancing sideways

To wish through dim eyes to see you in the clouds;

And I dream, dream of being soon rid of all shrouds,

I meet you again on leaving the last row of seats.



                  Vietnamese poem by VĂN BIA

                  English translation by THANH-THANH