Mai Văn Phấn's poems, translated by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai, Nguyễn Quang Thiều, Phạm Văn Bình

Mai Văn Phấn’s poems

 

   

“Những chiếc ghế” – Tranh bột màu trên báo cũ của Nguyễn Quang Thiều


 

 

A New Nightmare

 

In a dream I was displaced in Ukrainian as a child,

When suddenly my tiny feet touched the border,

I returned to my hometown feeling exhausted and exiled

I grabbed my weapons, fighting all wars in random order.

 

The bombs and planes rush loudly against the peace,

Leaving a fishy smell of blood from lives on the ago,

Reminding me that my heart is entirely Vietnamese,

Born and baptized in baths of blood from head to toe.

 

Heartbroken, I look at the souls of the dead individually

Of all the winners and losers lacking human trust,

Crashed together to forget that wars hurt universally,

To prevent them from realizing that all wars are unjust.

 

I gaze at the sun when I wake up in the morning,

As coming out of an entirely new bloody nightmare,

Feeling the loss of innocent lives and deeply mourning,

Hoping to see a glimmer of peace reaching everywhere.

 

 

 

LISTENING TO YOU ON THE PHONE

 

 

Your voice on the phone so pure and light

 

           A drop of water just dissolved

           A shoot springing up

           A ripe fruit just fallen

           A water stream flowing  

         

In the distance to the other side of the line lie fields, villages, carrying poles. Trucks, rising towers, deep roots. Your voice doesn’t cross them but makes them smaller, opening the doors that connect them. I listen to you thanks to deep roots opening up sacred layers in the warm earth, rivers flowing into carrying poles, villages prospering with rising towers, lush green fields on top of vehicles….

 

Continue speaking to me in vague sentences without meaning

 

In a few minutes you’ll put down the receiver; perhaps everything will struggle to go back to the way it was

 

There are only waves spreading

There is only an emerald green dissolving

There is only a gentle sweetness flying

There is only a stone bank quaking 

 

 (English version by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai and Jennifer Fossenbell. Reading voice: Jennifer Fossenbell.)



 

In Sokcho

For Ko Hyeong Ryeol

 

 

I am a bird flying here

In the strange nest, I hide myself

The window, peaceful lake surface

An intimate and stunning voice at dawn

 

In my closed eyes, the leave waves are spreading endlessly

Under Summer’s feet

Over Spring’s head

 

The snow begins unrolling a soft blanket

And Winter embraces my shoulders with it’s huge hands

 

(Zen Monastery Sokcho, 6/12/2010)

(English version by Nguyễn Quang Thiều)



 

 

My face in Ansan

 

 

In garden, the trees sheded leaves to await snow

The yellow tail birds are hovering around trees’ top

Drawing Kim Ka-Hyun’s face and mine

 

Looking down at a seedy meadow

A strange fruit  bunch in the garden brightens with red

The white stones expose at bottom of tream

And water passes them throught in whispers

 

Kim’s voice pervades flower scent of lavender

As the birds are perching

We will engulf our faces in each other

 

The wind blows coldly from Han river

And froze our faces in the air.

(English version by Nguyễn Quang Thiều)

 

 

  

 


Translator Phạm Văn Bình



Mai Văn Phấn's three-line poems

Translation version by Phạm Văn Bình

 

 

 

 

Treading on a Strip of Sunlight

 

I pressed hard
Until
It couldn’t move

 





Hearing the Sounds of Pork-pie Pounding

 

The big frog
Popped out of its hole
Which had become narrow

 





Like Broken Crystal Sounds

 

Dropping the bunch of keys
Caused me
To change a lot of thoughts

 





By the End of January

 

The fine rain hasn’t come yet
Each peach blossom petal
Is falling down slowly

 





A Rotten Wooden Pole

 

It is carrying some dewdrops
On the top
As a crown

 





When arriving at Mount Yen Tu’s Foot

 

The mist spead thickly
So I had to look for somebody
To ask for the way to the sky

 





In an Early Morning

 

When going out to open the gate
I felt dazed
In the middle of two worlds

 





The Bamboo Broom’s Sounds After a Rain Fall

 

They seemed to be a crow’s cries 
Fitful
Closely to the road surface

 





A Little Boy by the Lake

 

He had hardly raised his flute 
When the water surface
Rippled

 





Muddy Water

 

When it went down
The alluvium on the field surface
Looked like a mirror

 

 

 

 

Nostalgia

 

Raindrops are falling
Onto kitchen smoke
Whereas the dropping fruits are still unripe

 

 

 

 

Quietude

 

The lotus 
In a quiet and deserted moment 
Bloomed

 

 

 

At a High Tide

 

The wind blew fiercely
The sky
Seemed to be closer to the water surface

 

 

 

Spring’s Buds

 

A buffalo calf
Is being absorbed in sniffing at young and tender grass
While its mother is going far away

 

 

 

From a Muddy Water Pool

 

A stork flew away
Leaving behind
A strip of purely white cloud

 

 



A Couple of Butterflies are Making Love

 

On a banana palm
Below

Dew is condensed into drops

 

 



Taking a Rest at the Pagoda

 

When incense had been burnt 
For a while
Lord Buddha sat at ease

 

 

 

A Snail

 

It tried to stick out its tongue
To cool down
The whole ground

 

 

 

A Bell’s Rings

 

They are shaking
A bamboo-like rush clump
Which stood motionless in the whole Spring

 

 

 

Offering

 

The glass of wine offered to my deceased father
Was sprinkled onto the ground
Resounding with sounds

 

 

 

 

In a Spring Morning

 

The buds 
Heard children
Calling for one another to clear trees of caterpillars

 

 

 

 

A Flock of Bats

 

In a panic at sunset, flying
Pair by pair
The bats passed my dream

 

 

 

 

In the Mist

 

Wooden bell’s sounds were echoed
The river flowed
Faster

 

 

 

 

Lotus Season

 

Lots of sad incidents happened on the shore
But in the lake, the lotus flowers 
Still bloomed

 

 

 

 

After Cutting a Load of Grass

 

Entering the communal house to shelter from the rain
I saw everything
Still half-done

 

 

 

 

After a Bath

 

The weather
Has come into another season
The magnolia tree is getting older

 

 

 

 

Offering to Lord Buddha on a Rainy Day

 

A dried mud streak
Clinging well-balanced 
To the dress of a person in front of me

 

 

 

 

Sparrows

 

In Spring
They take a bath
Even in a dry place

 

 

 

 

At the Beginning of a Night

 

At the sunset 
A mouse
Ran across the road

 

 

The Eve

 

Into the ground, gripping the root-like feet 
Without looking up I still know 
That the tree’s buds are shooting above

 

 

 

 

New Year’s Day

 

On the path
Picking off a dried blade of grass 
I touched the tail of the old year

 

 

 

 

In the Morning of the New Year’s Day

 

Catching 
A child’s stocking
I felt it as soft as ripe fruit

 

 

 

 

In a Rain Fall

 

With water, the garden was flooded 
A peach blossom drifted
As if it were running

 

 

 

 

Sowing seeds

 

After the seeds were sowed into the completely decomposed mud
Hardly had I made some steps
When the field was overfilled with mist

 

 

 

 

A river’s words

 

I have silently run across here for centuries
Please, listen to the current of water 
To live in a better manner

 

 

 

 

A Goat’s Words

 

Kindly open the cage’s door
Let the knife and chopping-board down
For me to return to my mount

 

 

 

 

Listening in the Night

 

The bamboo grove contorted itself
Like the sounds of firewood, resounding
In flames, bursting

 

 

 

 

On the Path to the Pagoda

 

The transparent dewdrops
Are suspending overhead
But who knows

 

 

 

 

A Morning at Sea

Early, the sea-gull getting up 
Flew
Half-asleep

 

 



On a Humid Day

 

By moisture, the photo was blurred 
I seemed to see
My relatives in the next world

 

 

 

 

A White Daisy

 

The sunset 
Slowly 
Darkened it

 

 

 

 

In a Fine Sunshine

 

A fish
Lashed its tail
To swim up to the water surface

 

 

 

 

At the beach

 

Waves
Are rolling back and forth 
At the place the children have just played

 

 

 

 

Coming to the Garden

 

When I pulled grass
The sunshine
Appeared fast and fast

 

 

 

 

A Bird

 

It perched onto the garden 
Full of thorns
And overflowing with light

 

 

 

 

White Plum Blossoms

 

It got dark
I moved closely to the blossoms
To finish reading the page

 

 

 

 

In a Hard Rain Fall

 

The trees were all bent down
A bird’s chirps echoed from a distant place
I opened the window

 

 

 

 

Looking

 

I and a bird perching on the tower top
Looked at each other
Like two dots

 

 

 

 

A Glass of Apple Juice

After drinking up the juice
And then looking at the hill
I saw apple buds beginning to shoot





A Litchi Season

 

The first litchi bunch has been ripe

The woman
Is raising her hands to roll her hair

 

 


At the Statue of a Writer

A candle plate
After burning out
Broke

 





Absorbed in Looking at a Fine Rain Fall

 

When I stooped down
A snail and I
Reached the starting line

 





A Naively Silly Bird

 

When the bird flew astray into the room 
I turned off the light
It was still bright outside

 





A Tranparent Stream

Like lasies’ feet
The cobbles in lines
Are purely white

 





Still Like a Child

 

I stood at the veranda
Waiting for the moon rise
To have a better share

 





Spring’s Departure

 

Unable to catch up with it
I just saw
A thin veil of smoke

 





Rites

The rainfall
Has washed the firewood stack clean
And now the sunlight is appearing

 





Expressing Gratitude

The man of straw stretched out its arms
For the gusts of cold wind
To blow through

 





The Spring is Still Left Underground

 


The peach blossoms
Fell
Onto the apricot and plum ones

 

M.V.P






 

 

 

 

The currants

 

 

Delighting in the horse’s bell

Ringing at night

The currants unripe yesterday

Turn ripe

In the morning of today

 

On the farm the horses' bells ringing

The post-boys are riding

The carts full of hay...

 

Are the horses' bells ringing

From the Prince’s ride late at night

In the last century...

 

Or from the horse

Dropping its reins

To gallop through the night ...

 

I had a dream

Of sounds in the wind

Spreading...

And spreading...

 

My Russian friend picks off to offer me,

A bunch of currants from his garden

I am now savoring currants slowly

As if berries are horses' bells

Ringing in my mouth.

 

(Composed on Nhepxki Avenue in St. Petersburg, 2014)


(Translated by
 Phạm Văn Bình. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 

 

 

A wind rise in Petergof(*)

  

 

The foliage

Suddenly rains down cascades of yellow leaves

People and doves

Hurry and run about in search of shelter.

 

The wind cleans each paving stone

Existing since the time of King Pie

Wind cleans each root of grass, too

 

The bells' ring leaves the top of towers 

And falls onto carpets of leaves

Around the monument.

 

The palace’s windows open suddenly

Queen Ekaterina appears with her scepter, high

Smiling she calms her people down

 

She will forever be powerful and attractive

 

Powerful and attractive!

That is the sentence I mumble

While looking at row of poplars

Together with white and blue daisies

Bowing down to the ground.

  

Saint Petersburg, 12/9/2014

__________

(*) Petergof (Петергoф), or also called Palace of Summer (Letnhi dvores/ Летний дворeц), about 20 km far from the city of  Saint Petersburg in the West.

 

(Translated by Phạm Văn Bình. Edited by Susan Blanshard)

 

 



Tranh của Đào Hải Phong











The currants

 

 

Delighting in the horse’s bell

Ringing at night

The currants unripe yesterday

Turn ripe

In the morning of today

 

On the farm the horses' bells ringing

The post-boys are riding

The carts full of hay...

 

Are the horses' bells ringing

From the Prince’s ride late at night

In the last century...

 

Or from the horse

Dropping its reins

To gallop through the night ...

 

I had a dream

Of sounds in the wind

Spreading...

And spreading...

 

My Russian friend picks off to offer me,

A bunch of currants from his garden

I am now savoring currants slowly

As if berries are horses' bells

Ringing in my mouth.

 

(Composed on Nhepxki Avenue in St. Petersburg, 2014)

Translated by Phạm Văn Bình
Edited by Susan Blanshard


 

 

 

 

A wind rise in Petergof(*)

  

 

The foliage

Suddenly rains down cascades of yellow leaves

People and doves

Hurry and run about in search of shelter.

 

The wind cleans each paving stone

Existing since the time of King Pie

Wind cleans each root of grass, too

 

The bells' ring leaves the top of towers 

And falls onto carpets of leaves

Around the monument.

 

The palace’s windows open suddenly

Queen Ekaterina appears with her scepter, high

Smiling she calms her people down

 

She will forever be powerful and attractive

 

Powerful and attractive!

That is the sentence I mumble

While looking at row of poplars

Together with white and blue daisies

Bowing down to the ground.

  

Saint Petersburg, 12/9/2014

__________
(*) Petergof (Петергoф), or also called Palace of Summer (Letnhi dvores/ Летний дворeц), about 20 km far from the city of  Saint Petersburg in the West.

 

Translated by Phạm Văn Bình
Edited by Susan Blanshard


 

 




























Thiết kế bởi VNPT | Quản trị