TO YOSEMITE
THINKING BACK TO VIETNAM

 

To visit picturesque Yosemite, here I came
Just by becoming an exile being affected;
I looked at this scenery of universal fame
Upon which from my heart I sadly reflected.

Oh, this land in this corner of plain mirth
Over this far-away Pacific Ocean shore!
Any unusual things in the entrails of the earth
To send my sobbing soul sinking in sore?

How great mountains and rivers: this version!
But, why is it ? to differ from this glitter
So that suddenly I felt on a mere excursion
A confusing mixture of blithe and bitter!

My native home Nature had favored its flag
Nearly five thousand years to fly in its domain.
Alas! Who began to render it a tattered rag?
Its subjects scattered, sulking, suffering pain!

People have flocked to Yosemite here,
Each a contentment receiver and a peace giver.
Plants and trees, birds and beasts: clear sphere;
No cause to worry, fear, hesitate, shiver.

You may express to one another each view:
No police cordons on your way, the heavy load.
Everybody would stop and wait as due
For the tiny squirrel carefree to cross the road.

Night after night your sleep comes securely,
All right for you, honey, and for me too.
Life is wide and smooth like dreams to surely
Increase sounds and colors all the time through.

One nurtures of happiness a good sense
Obviously on his or her own face to tomorrow.
His talk and her smile need not be a pretense;
Your foreheads are not furrowed by sorrow.

Although for a brief moment here I came,
I did bear a grief for my old nationís sake.
Such high sky and deep waters are the same,
But just pondering over it makes my heart ache.

No difference, yet why in this strange world
Life has incessantly offered its open arms
While my left-behind Vietnam is swirled
Down into misery by the evil that only harms.

Well, Yosemite! I have already come here,
This beautiful site, from such a dark chapter.
I think back to my former country dear
And crave for a near future filled with rapture.

 

            Vietnamese poem by DUY NĂNG

           English translation by THANH-THANH