When I was just a six-year-old boy
I  began playing soccer to enjoy.
A ball of rags my mother sewed around
A green pomelo picked from the rear ground.
I indulged in the matches forgetting to eat
Causing my mother to chide, nearly to beat.

When coming to the age of sixteen
I already became on dates keen.
I neglected my lessons to learn
Leading my mother to sadness and concern
That my future would be inferior to my peers'.

When I reached of age twenty years,
My country got in danger, I joined the army.
This position was not deemed balmy
But dangerous and made my mother fear
The loss of her only begotten son so dear.

My unit was stationed all year far away.
I had no home leave even for half a day.
It pained my mother again and again to regard
My trying conditions as too hard:
Exposed to arrows and bullets, who knows?

After surviving many deadly blows,
I obtained permission.  But, used to roaming,
I went with friends on carousing and foaming,
And only came home late at night
Allowing myself little time within her sight.
My mother asked why.  Fearing she got riled,
I kissed her on the forehead, and smiled.

The fortune of the country turned ill
From bad to worse against my he-man's will.
I became a POW.
                            My mother had no help.
She loved me, missed me, but did not yelp.
I heard the sad news six months late
After she had pined away to fate.
I could not hold back and burst into tears;
I felt my heart broken for all my life's years.

                         *    *

During my days  in the enemy's jail,
How I wished I could hear at me you rail!
How I craved for your against-me grudge,
Your hand to move my mind hard-to-budge,
Your lullaby to raise my good-natured soul
Leading me into life, guiding me toward a goal:
But now I can't about those myself bother
-- Oh my dear mother!  



            Vietnamese poem by NHƯ HOA                               
English translation by THANH-THANH