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POETRY/THƠ

Nguyễn Đình Toàn | When I leave – Mai tôi đi (1)

Nguyễn Đình Toàn first penned under Tô Hà Vân, born September 6th, 1936 at Gia Lâm, by the Red river, outside of Hanoi. Left for South Vietnam in 1954, there he became actively involved in the arts, literature, poetry, plays, music, in association with literary magazines like Văn, Văn học. He collaborated with Trần Phong Giao for many years in the selection of literature for Văn Magazine. He took up the position as the editor of Saigon Radio after that, and became known for the Music programme in the early seventies. He was captured twice after 1975, and was imprisoned in a re-education camp for nearly six years. He and his wife, Madame Thu Hồng, settled in the United States of America at the end of 1998. A retiree, he currently resides in South California with his family.

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 Nguyễn Đình Toàn, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

I feel like I’m stuck on an uninspired plane of my mind, I don’t know if I’m happy or I’m sad. I miss the extreme emotional rollercoaster of the last six months. Receiving good news is a huge anticlimax.

My father suggest I should try translating Nguyễn Đình Toàn’s work. I find myself listening to “When I leave” on repeat for the last hour.

Here’s my rough translation.

Buồn.

Trâm

April 2021

When I leave

When I leave I’ll leave for the dark fog
Into the flesh the fog seeps the poison of death
Our homeland decent in goodbyes divided
Where to the tearful message

When I leave I hope to forget the love far gone
Hope they’ll find their destination
Us in parting, we’re parting heaven ripping apart the sea
Left is how many markings of yearning

The moon shall be cold alone from now on
Life around the waterfall through the rapids
The spirit like a mirror shattered into pieces
A vessel from now on far from docking

When I leave as blood bled outside of the heart
In all corners of the world the prayers
May our homeland wakeup from its torpor
So joy be in death far from home

Mai tôi đi

Mai tôi đi tôi đi vào sương đen
Sương rất độc tẩm vào người nỗi chết
Quê hương ta sông chia dòng vĩnh biệt
Chảy về đâu những nước mắt đưa tin

Mai tôi đi mong cho tình xa quên
Mong cho người về được nơi sẽ đến
Ta chia tay, ta chia trời xé biển
Còn được bao dấu vết nhớ nhau tìm

Từ nay trăng sẽ lạnh riêng mình
Đời nghe quanh thác đổ qua ghềnh
Hồn như gương vỡ dập tan tành
Thuyền ơi từ nay xa bến

Mai tôi đi như máu chảy ngoài tim
Xin khấn nguyện cả mười phương tám hướng
Cho quê hương u mê ngày thức tỉnh
Để dù xa có chết cũng vui mừng

Nguyễn Đình Toàn

https://amnhac.fm/nguyen-dinh-toan/5562-tho-nh-c-va-ngu-i-tinh-c-a-nguy-n-dinh-toan

Nguyễn Đình Toàn first penned under Tô Hà Vân, born September 6th, 1936 at Gia Lâm, by the Red river, outside of Hanoi. Left for South Vietnam in 1954, there he became actively involved in the arts, literature, poetry, plays, music, in association with literary magazines like Văn, Văn học. He collaborated with Trần Phong Giao for many years in the selection of literature for Văn Magazine. He took up the position as the editor of Saigon Radio after that, and became known for the Music programme in the early seventies. He was captured twice after 1975, and was imprisoned in a re-education camp for nearly six years. He and his wife, Madame Thu Hồng, settled in the United States of America at the end of 1998. A retiree, he currently resides in South California with his family.

Source: thivien.net

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

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