NGUYỄN HOA: POETRY FOR AMERICAN FATHERS


Nhà thơ Nguyễn Hoa

Nhà thơ Nguyễn Hoa

NTT: Nhà thơ Nguyễn Hoa có bài thơ “Thơ gửi những người cha nước Mỹ” vừa được dịch ra tiếng Anh bởi  2 nhà thơ Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai và Bruce Weigl. Xin gới thiệu cùng bạn.

NGUYEN HOA

POETRY FOR AMERICAN FATHERS

Part A: POETRY FOR FATHERS WHO STILL HAVE THEIR CHILDREN

Dear brothers,
they have not returned.
Since the beginning of the deadly year, 1965,
so many children of America have not returned.
It is very late, but maybe not too late.
The fathers who still have their children,
the children in the embrace of love, yet the real children
wear too tight clothes;
their shoulders are large, their foreheads broad as their fathers’,
their footsteps like a dance on the earth,
echoing far.
But they do not return,
so many children of America do not return!

They play the game of setting fire to houses,
setting fire to clothes stored in cabinets,
to ducks, to chickens,
a fishing rod.
They even set fire to the portrait of God on the altar.

So they do not return,
so many children of America do not return!

Instead they could have slept tight in Vietnamese homes,
after a party under the full moon.
Instead, they could have bathed in the cool rivers
of tropical forests.
Yet they do not return,
so many children of America do not return,
Or they return
in plastic coffins.
Their death takes away the chance
for them to be the walking canes of our old age.
Oh, the empty space we can’t fill.

My brothers, you and the future fathers
don’t want them to leave
(because many children of America do not return),
because having them
is like having the source of light, the source of life,
a happiness that has wings.
Because they are more real than all heavenly gods,
because they are our blood, they will replace us on earth.
Having them, the source of our family’s life would not run dry.

For these reasons,
I send these lines to you.

 

Part B: POETRY OF AMERICAN FATHERS WHOSE CHILDREN RETURN FROM VIETNAM

Dear brothers
They have finally returned,
after a year in Vietnam.
The children of America have returned.

They have returned for real,
the Johns, the Jacks.
Their mothers embrace them, tears like rain
soak the shoulder of the soldier’s shirts.

The fathers try to control their tears.
The skies of Washington and New York are blue.
They have returned!

We, the fathers
know they have played the game of setting fire to homes,
to rice fields,
to the floating moon,
the childhood in dream
in Vietnam.

They kiss me now;
where is the sensation on my tongue’s tip?
Coca-Cola,
smoke of a cigar,
purple sunset of the school yard at Harvard.

They have come back for real,
the Johns, the Jacks;
they feel strange with their childhood guitar
at the billiard table where they had played;
oh the longing,
the long years that make the waiting eyes tired.
That’s them,
the Johns, the Jacks,
the bewildered machines,
the bewildered hands in the garden full of fruit,
the bewildered feet in the wheat field
beside the Mississippi River,
or next to the Statue of Liberty.

Dear brothers
why can’t we believe
that they have returned for real,
The Johns, the Jacks.
They are accustomed to playing with fire;
they are addicted to war
as if addicted to heroin.

How can I tell you
that after a year in Vietnam,
we love Jack and John;
as poets we love the earth, we love the oranges,
we love beautiful people.

It is not too late.
We, the American fathers and mothers,
must stop the hands that hold the fire for play,
The earth home!

Together with you, brothers, and the entire human race,
we are not yet late.
We must stop the hands that hold fire for play,
The earth home!

Van Ho, Vietnam, end of Autumn 1980

(Translated by Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Bruce Weigl)

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