translated by Bruce Weigl and Nguyen Ba Chung
So, I have lost you.
My poetry cannot contain the high blue sky.
The fast and full river is suddenly still,
time suddenly pale.
By a cool autumn wind my heart is wrung.
A yellow daisy calls at the foot of clouds until it’s hoarse.
I arrive at a strange place,
the place where there is someone, not you.
I come again to the Great Wall.
Streams of sunset divide the fire of Feng Tai.
My heart divides rivers and mountains,
but brave man, who will ever know?
Pearl River Night
Luxurious Pearl River, luxurious night
like ivory, like pearls, like you.
Later, I come to the River Day to row;
I pull down some sweet smelling fruit and the moon suddenly rises.
The sky wakes from hibernation,
sun light shy on the bamboo hedge.
Someone, just let go from harvesting,
waits anxiously for spring.
Busy traffic, yet the man still sleeps.
A thin blanket hermetically covers his head,
poverty and misery since before time.
Oh simple worker, where is your native land.
Bruce Weigl has been translating poetry from the Vietnamese with his Vietnamese friends and colleagues for over twenty years in support of a moral reconciliation between the two countries. His most recent poetry collection is The Abundance of Nothing, which was a finalist for the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry.
Nguyen Ba Chung is an accomplished poet in English and in Vietnamese and is one of the most important translators of contemporary Vietnamese poetry. He is a Fellow at the William Joiner Institute for the Study of War and Social Consequences at the University of Massachusetts Boston.