Categories
POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | 3 verses (147)

bells ringing
cadence
resounding afloat drifting in thick fog

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

 

bells ringing

cadence

resounding afloat drifting in thick fog

 

chirping birds

whipping gale

a lone wooden boat in the middle of the sea

 

crashing waves

foaming isle

boats and barrels swimming in tides of tears

 

the people’s voice

the word thought to be PATIENT

to think it should be HEART 

_____

 

tiếng chuông

giai điệu

mênh mang chiếc phao trôi giữa sương mù

 

tiếng chim

gió ném

chiếc thuyền độc mộc giữa biển khơi

 

tiếng sóng

sủi bọt hòn đảo

thuyền thúng bơi trong thủy triều nước mắt

 

tiếng dân

tưởng là chữ NHẪN

ai ngờ chữ TÂM..

_____

 

white light

continuous flashing

a black and yellow buoy in the fog

 

NB. Through the translation of this poem I had to do a mini research on the evolution of the Vietnamese language. A fulfilling aspect of discovering new vocabulary. The “NHẪN TÂM” had always implied cruelty, and I’ve never given it more thought. The Vietnamese written text was in classical Chinese, the character patient is the sum of two characters: the character representing a knife balanced on top of the character representing the heart. Hence without this balance, without fortitude or forbearance the heart is severed, we end up with “NHẪN TÂM”, we’re heartless, we become cruel, and pain a consequence. Thus, sadly my translation has lost an aspect of the original text.

 

NHẪN: the knife is balanced atop the heart; patience; forbearance; fortitude

 

TÂM: heart

 

NHẪN TÂM: the knife cuts the heart; heartless

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

There's magic in translating a body of work from one language to another.

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