OUR PEOPLE'S PANGS OF PAIN
children asked why I grew Asian vegetables and fruit-trees
not apples or mulberries as one almost everywhere sees.
Dad, did you do so?
that, I smiled and pondered over that though
a while then to the kids I tried to explain:
my dear! when you grow up you will gain
knowledge and understanding of the expatriates’ mood
living here but over the past not ceasing to brood,
down with nostalgia, recalling the rural road pathway
which they once went to school twice each day;
leaves swaying as if twittering birds happy to greet;
hard work the deliciously sweet coconut milk and meat
and drinking one’s fill, how satiated with pleasure!
sugary longans in the garden, at leisure,
calabash trellis shading the scorching summer sun at noon
in the bamboo hammock, what boon!
lulling refrain of traditional songs, the melodious croon...
garden is indeed a half of our fatherland here nigh,
the other half still is beyond the longing sky!
Dad! when would you lead us back to our old soil to visit
beloved country as beautiful as a poem exquisite,
Quan Pass: where, since when have we been possessors ?
our ancestors victoriously defeated Chinese aggressors
that they bitterly uttered this historical phrase:
Quan Pass, one out of ten, it is to blaze
crossing the frontier to trespass on Viet territorial side
one out of ten invaders could retreat alive!
will get there taking our ancestors’ oath to continue
preserve our sacred bequeathed land as a new sinew,
visit Ban Gioc Waterfall so dreamy and dear
charming that one cannot find in the States here.
remember when you lulled our younger sibling to sleep
long poem but only one section in mind we forever keep:
in Dong Dang, are Ky Lua Street, To Thi Statue,
Thanh Temple – Then, who left for Pho Lang with you?
much to regret her parents’ pain
birth and breeding, resigned to be fain...
my children’s words, deep grief in my heart spears
swiftly turned away to conceal the humiliated tears
my heart, overflowing like flood,
feel I nearly vomit blood.
is no longer that cherished border area of our land:
red slaves have betrayed their country – What brand!
will return to punish ye,
does not tolerate, earth does not forgive, ye can’t flee!
whole Viet people will rise up thundering in a storm
make a clean sweep of communist rubbish in every form
our four-thousand-years-old precious native nation,
reclaim the sacred soil that is our forefathers’ foundation.
are not afraid of bloodshed, in order to gain
beautiful Vietnam, inviolate and unified domain to remain
Nam Quan Pass through Ca Mau Cape.
Viet nationals will return to rebuild, reconstruct, reshape
from all corners of the world, earnest and clever
gemmed Vietnam, strong and prosperous for ever,
peaceful, free, and humane.
that national festival in a boisterous brouhaha so plain .
will bring back and present to our relatives at home
Viet longans from the seeds we took abroad as gnome
sowed on the Free World’s ground, sprinkled thorough
with water from Seine River or the Hillsborough,
are still sweet, fragrant like sugar, honey –
spite of autumn wind and winter rain in our native place.
still will hold each other’s hands, hand in hand
travel throughout our treasured fatherland
sing, to laugh, to long, and to love.
Translation by THANH-THANH