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POETRY/THƠ

Lê Vĩnh Tài | AN EPIC ODE OF UKRAINE – 16/43 – exploding bombs like a melody

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

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

By Lê Vĩnh Tài, translation by Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

March 5th, 2022

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/3/6/russia-ukraine-us-mulls-oil-ban-liveblog

exploding bombs

like a melody

mother bouncing as she ran with a child in her arms through the fog

.

submachine guns 

rattling like the wind

a baby abandoned in a flapping tent at the border

.

the shrieks of fire

an entire port foaming at the mouth

fleets of basket vessels fighting the tearful tides

.

atomic bomb, how could it represent the people’s voice

the word thought to be PATIENCE(NHẪN)

to think it should be HEART(TÂM)

*“NHẪN TÂM”; the heartlessness

*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

_____

MARCH 2020

_____

 

tiếng bom

như một giai điệu

mẹ bồng em chạy giữa sương mù 

.

tiếng tiểu liên 

như gió ném

em bé chơi vơi trong cái lều nơi biên giới 

.

tiếng lửa cháy 

sủi bọt một hải cảng 

những hạm đội thuyền thúng bơi trong thủy triều nước mắt

.

hạt nhân, vần với tiếng dân 

tưởng là chữ NHẪN

ai ngờ chữ TÂM..

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

2 replies on “Lê Vĩnh Tài | AN EPIC ODE OF UKRAINE – 16/43 – exploding bombs like a melody”

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