Lê Vĩnh Tài | AN EPIC ODE OF UKRAINE – 30/43 – when I wanted to take away all your pain

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 14th, 2022

when I wanted to take away all your pain

and when I wanted you to take away all my pain


all the pain we received from each other

all the aches and worries are totally worthy


as the world witnessed

the tanks being dragged away by the ploughs

no different to when the world was dragged away by the heartless

the people divided looked the other way


some traumatised, some hysterical

the heartless watched the destruction of a nation

as a Russian soldier

lay spattered on the snow like a piece of raw meat


Eastern Europe

has nothing to do with burning down a bridge


as soon as someone tried to vote

the bridge fell apart


the breathtaking destruction

and noisy tanks clambering

the politicians tripping, stuttering

fearful of the diplomacy going south


no one bothered to check the chessboard

see what was the best move to take out the king

no one wanted to be at the centre of such a mess

all ran and hid, scattered blind-eyed

paused only to watch the invasion

where at the very centre falls, Ukraine


the world waited and saw

the start of a war

where the ice bled


my nation once were shattered pieces of a mirror

the fame of our children in the papers 

escaping the fire of Napalm…


khi tôi muốn lấy đi tất cả nỗi đau của bạn

và khi tôi muốn bạn lấy đi tất cả nỗi đau của tôi


tất cả những nỗi đau mà chúng ta nhận lấy của nhau 

đều xứng đáng 


thế giới đang chứng kiến

​​những chiếc xe tăng được kéo bởi máy cày 

như thế giới từng bị kéo bởi những kẻ ác 

nhân dân chia phe nhìn theo cách khác


một số bị sốc, một số khác thì cười 

nhẫn tâm nhìn một đất nước bị tàn phá 

và một người lính Nga

nằm trên tuyết như miếng thịt trong tủ lạnh 


Đông Âu

nó không chỉ là việc đốt cháy một cây cầu


khi một kẻ muốn xen vào quyền bỏ phiếu 

cây cầu bắt đầu đổ nát 


sự phá hủy kỳ diệu

và xe tăng chạy ầm ầm

các chính trị gia bắt đầu vấp ngã

lo sợ ngoại giao tan rã 


không ai kiểm soát bàn cờ 

cách tốt để đánh bại đối thủ của bạn trong cờ vua

nhưng không ai muốn ở trung tâm của mớ hỗn độn này

cùng cao chạy xa bay 

chỉ đứng nhìn các vòng vây

mà Ukraine rơi vào giữa 


thế giới chờ đợi và nhìn thấy

một cuộc chiến tranh bắt đầu

nơi băng giá chảy máu 


đất nước tôi từng là những mảnh kính vỡ 

những đứa trẻ được lên báo chỉ vì chúng vừa thoát ra khỏi biển lửa 

bom napalm…

By Nguyễn Thị Phương Trâm

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

16 replies on “Lê Vĩnh Tài | AN EPIC ODE OF UKRAINE – 30/43 – when I wanted to take away all your pain”

A poem that truly shows the horrors of war.

Great masterpiece.

I remember seeing this original photo of this poor girl whose clothes were burnt off by napalm back when I was a child in elementary school.

I was shocked and horrified.

It was the image of this photo that started turning many Americans against the Vietnam War as they started to wonder just what was it they were supposed to be fighting for.

I remember reading years later that the U.S. pilot who had dropped the napalm on this village was positively horrified when he saw this photo.

It suddenly hit him what happens when you drop bombs.

Inoocents suffer.

Liked by 1 person

This picture always numbs me when I run across it. There’s just too much pain and devastation in it. The kind that can never be soothed or comforted. It’s a reality we shy away from, but so many have to confront it…

Liked by 1 person

I think this is one of the defining pictures of the C20th. Have you read Kim Phuc’s biography (‘The Girl in the Picture’) ? I believe the pilot was South Vietnamese, but there was a TV crew from the US at the site. This picture says more than words ever could. Peace to you all xo

Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s