Lê Vĩnh Tài | when there wasn’t a voice (50)

Lê Vĩnh Tài, an acclaimed Vietnamese poet, born 1966 in Buon Ma Thuot, Daklak, Vietnam. The retired doctor is still a resident of the Western Highlands, an acclaimed businessman in Buon Ma Thuot.

Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm, the poet and translator, born 1971 in Phu Nhuan, Saigon, Vietnam. The pharmacist currently lives and works in Western Sydney, Australia.

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translated by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm


when there wasn’t a voice
the poet stole the word:
– sound

and he got a taste of saltiness
it turns out he stole the wrong word:
– tears

he could smell the word taken by mistake
the smell of fish sauce the rain, rays of sunshine

now the only sense he has left is smell
since there’s nothing left but darkness in his eyes…


khi bị mất giọng nói
thi sĩ đánh cắp chữ:
– âm thanh

nhưng chàng nghe vị mặn
hoá ra chàng đã đánh cắp nhầm chữ:
– nước mắt

chàng nghe mùi của chữ đã lấy nhầm
mùi nước mắm mùi mưa mùi tóc nắng

chàng chỉ còn có thể nghe thấy mùi
vì hai mắt chàng chỉ còn bóng tối…

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

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