Nhuan LeXuan

Freshman - 993 Points (1930 / Vietnam)

The Old Shelf - Poem by Nhuan LeXuan

The old shelf
After ten years I came back to rearrange.
From the books and notebooks range
Fell out the veins of violet-dyed fig tree leaves:
The sight of which more and more aggrieves
Reminding me of my dear green years
With now so long-ago those cheers...

The dusty autograph books each showing
Each page with friendship overflowing
As I turned over, I reviewed each classmate:
Who were still alive, who had already found fate,
Who succeeded in fleeing as yearned,
And who however returned...

In my mind revived the white dresses of fays
And their laughters like on back-to-school days,
The small kiosk with the glasses of juice,
The rear laps sneakily knotted love to introduce...

Oh memories of youth! Thence
Nostalgia immense
In my self!
Oh my old shelf!
Ten more years, ah!
And after ten more years - who could debar?
When has grown white my hair
To-pine-for and to-miss shall I for ever bear...

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Langston Hughes


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Poem Submitted: Sunday, March 11, 2007

Poem Edited: Monday, January 31, 2011

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