Nhuan LeXuan

(1930 / Vietnam)

Dialogue Between Man And Muse


What have expressed thousands of pages of verse
Through ups and downs of life I have been absorbed in?
Because that little bit I got life does not need,
But what life wants has been impossible for me to win!

Well, so be it! – Months after months silently
I have lived and wished it a meaningful one each day.
Sixty years old, I just await going to the grave-yard
Bidding farewell to this world, a long thorny bitter way.

Is it that misery sets Pegasus on wing?
And if it is so, why of it do I not dream?
In this painful existence truth and falsehood contradict,
How many lines please me amongst so many a ream?

Poetry reaches heights – waves still wail at sea;
Power worn out, ability exhausted, will in degeneration,
I suffer agony in deep heart, laden with resentment,
To pity my native country submerged in tribulation.

At dusk, at night, this stranger sits missing the jungle,
The past heroic period – followed by the arduous time!
To take off fatigues, put on prisoner’s uniforms:
Oh motherland! Had we committed what crime?

In June nineteen seventy five, my mom saw me off;
On my return, over her cold tomb green grass grew.
My heart hurt, grudge blood rose to my eyes:
What was the use of rhymes in such writhing rue?

II

For what reason, Poety has not spoken up anything?
Originally innocent – poetry is my predestined career.
Man and Muse have had times fallen down together:
Besides my ballad stanzas who else is my loyal dear?

Wherever I feel distress, you offer me your smile;
Whenever I tumble, it is you who help me rise again.
For over forty years – poetry since then as my lover
Accompanied me on each battlefield and in each chain!

You opened my eyes and mind, aroused my belief;
In my hour of despair, you were my very torchlight.
Through thirteen unjust years you were my intimate
To soothe my hunger, cold, shame in each winter night.

The quilted jacket could not yield warmth as the verse
That replaced a blanket to wrap up my body in disfavor.
My pen is still here to tell the story to the world:
To the insipid manioc, Poetry’s grace was to add savor.

How can I have the heart to forget the long hard years?
You reinforced my breath, my life and death lover -
Poetry - for me to survive and to hold firm to my faith!
To cease writing, lose my joy of life, who would cover?

III

You, bright torch, sharp sword, fresh rose, warm blanket,
Cool breeze in this earthly stifling noon full of slime!
I apologize, I owe your favour - in awoken reflection
I heartily pledge devotion to you, Poetry, all lifetime.

Submitted: Sunday, March 11, 2007
Edited: Wednesday, September 07, 2011

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