Vietnamese Refugee Boat People Forty Years Later Poem by NHIEN NGUYEN MD

Vietnamese Refugee Boat People Forty Years Later

Rating: 4.1

This poem is dedicated to many thousands of boat people
who perished by the sea


As soon as I woke up this morning
I felt overwhelmed by memories of long ago past.
Many years of war tore my country apart
Million people left their relatives and their country Vietnam.

After losing the war, many people escaped for their lives
With their possessions in their handbags or knapsacks.
They left everything behind hoping to be alive
They were willing to sacrifice for their future lives.

They left their homes when it rained or shined.
Mountain passes or deep rivers couldn't stop their determination.
Their eyes embraced their native country for the last time
Pacific Ocean was waiting for them
They prayed to reach the other shore alive.

The other shore of Pacific Ocean was very far away
Few thousand people trampled
To board cargo ship Trường-Xuân for a life of freedom.
At Saigon river port on the day that South Vietnam turned red
Those luckily departed suffered a great deal
Those who remained behind suffered hundred times more.

Those who tried to escape followed others' steps
In the dark of the night they moved around like ghosts.
Any sound of dog barking could bring them disasters
Sudden whistle or gun shot could bring end to one's life

People escaped from Central, South, North Vietnam
Boat people tragedies recorded forever in human history
My daughter-in-law succeeded after thirteen attempts
Many people died in their search of Freedom.

For many years, many people tried to escape by the sea
Their fate was like a bell being hung by a thread
Big waves tossed small fishing boats like tiny leaves
Many boats broke apart and people sank to ocean floor.

Tens of thousand boats departed but how many arrived?
Because of their overloads many boats were capsized
In addition to boat-filled suffering, sea pirates attacked
They raped, killed and tossed people to feed the sea.

Many refugee camps were filled with innumerable people
Their accumulated tears flowed like rivers
They cried for their country and those who died by the sea
Million people mourned for their expatriation.

With mountain-high sadness they marched forward together
They worked very hard to build their lives over
They carried with them their own fates and their nation's fate
They raised high their burning Torches of Freedom.

Some time in the past as Boat people they escaped
Their possessions filled their handbags or knapsacks
Their determination brought them shining paths
The 'parents' built their lives, their children succeeded.

Forty years have passed and I'm looking back in reflection
Like a passing cloud, one half of a man's life has passed.
Thank you Human Race, thank you for your Human Love
Vietnamese people are welcomed citizens of the world.



In memory of 4/30/1975

Above is translation poem from Nhien Nguyen's Vietnamese poem: Thuyền Nhân Tị Nạn
Việt-Nam Bốn Mươi Năm Sau


Bài thơ này kính tặng vạn oan hồn
Những Thuyền Nhân không bao giờ cặp bến


Sáng hôm nay khi tôi vừa thức dậy
Lòng chợt buồn nghĩ tới chuyện ngày xưa.
Quê hương đó vì chiến tranh tan nát
Cả triệu người bỏ nước, bỏ người thân.

Thua trận rồi bao nhiêu người bỏ chạy
Hành trang thì tay xách, bị đeo vai
Bỏ tất cả hy vọng mình còn sống
Đau khổ nhiều để đổi lấy ngày mai.

Người ra đi chẳng ngại vì sương gió
Bao nhiêu đèo sông suối chẳng thể ngăn
Người ra đi nhìn non sông lần cuối
Biển Đông chờ, hy vọng đợi bờ kia.

Thái Bình Dương bờ bên kia xa lắm
Mấy ngàn người chen chúc tầu Trường-Xuân
Bến Saigon ngày miền Nam nhuộm đỏ
Người đi khổ, người ở khổ trăm lần.

Người ra đi người sau theo người trước
Giữa đêm đen người ẩn hiện như ma
Tiếng chó kêu đủ mang thân đại họa
Tiếng còi đêm tiếng súng, một đời tan.

Người ra đi ba miền Trung Nam Bắc
Truyện Thuyền Nhân lịch sử sẽ nhớ đời
Con dâu tôi mười ba lần trốn chạy,
Bao nhiêu người đổi mạng lấy Tự Do.

Bao năm tháng, bao nhiêu người vượt biển
Số phận thì như mành chỉ treo chuông
Sóng đại dương thuyền trôi như chiếc lá
Sóng lật thuyền người chìm đáy đại dương.

Vạn thuyền đi nhưng mấy thuyền cặp bến?
Thuyền qúa đầy sóng biển dễ vùi sâu.
Khổ đầy khoang lại còn thêm cướp biển
Người chết vì hãm hiếp, giết phi tang.

Trại tị nạn bao nhiêu người chen chúc
Chồng chất buồn nước mắt chảy thành sông
Khóc thương nước, khóc thương người chết biển
Cả triệu người buồn khóc nỗi ly hương.

Buồn núi cao nhưng triệu người bước tới
Lao động nhiều quyết xây dựng ngày mai
Triệu người đi mang vận mình vận nước
Đuốc Tự Do thắp sáng khắp địa cầu.

Ngày nào đó là Thuyền Nhân bỏ nước
Hành trang thì tay xách bị đeo vai
Chí kiên cường tạo tương lai rực rỡ
Cha xây đời, con cháu đã thành danh.

Bốn mươi năm bây giờ ngồi ôn lại
Nửa đời người như thể thoáng mây bay.
Cám ơn Người, cám ơn Tình Nhân Loại
Dân Việt tôi công dân khắp địa cầu.


Nhân ngày kỷ niệm 30/4/1975

Sunday, May 10, 2015
Topic(s) of this poem: life and death,mourn,patriotic
Debra Trayer 13 June 2015

This poem really touches my heart and mind. I'm so glad this poem came back to your memory for you to record for future generations. It is hard to fathom the inconceivable amount of suffering and the vastness of devastation that destroyed so many of your people in the 70s and affected their lives for many years. But your poem visually captures the intensity of those fleeing from war. It was nice your poem ended with such positive hope for future generation. It's 's a blessing to know that through such strong determination, much arduous work and hope for the future of freedom that with time the surviving lives have started to heal. The new generations are fulfilling their parents' dreams to achieve their own dreams. It's hard to understand why such heartbreak and hardship has to happen. But I'm so grateful that you and your family were able to survive and come to this county. Your life has changed my life for the better. May God bless you and all the other Vietnamese people who survived. Thank you for sharing this poem for others to read and learn from.

6 2 Reply
Kim Nguyen 15 June 2015

Thank you for reading and your kind words. So much sufferings but always there is Hope. I hope this poem will heal some one's heart..NHIEN NGUYEN

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Chinedu Dike 13 January 2020

Horrendous story of war casualties written with clarity of thought and mind. Very heartfelt with strong emotions. Thanks for sharing, Nhien.

1 0 Reply
Kimkhue Nguyen 22 February 2019

Sad memories! Many of my friends have died as boat people.

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Stan Rodriguez 17 May 2018

Shows how bad war can be, Poem is well written, good narrative.

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Nhien Nguyen 17 May 2018

Thank you for reading this poem, and I appreciate your support. Nhien

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Richard Wlodarski 14 May 2017

Nhien, your heart rending gut wrenching poem is a testament to the human spirit. It moved me beyond words. It made me reflect on an audio-visual presentation that I produced on the boat people while in university. It was one of the most difficult projects that I've ever undertaken. The atrocities committed in that unjustified war are beyond comprehension. Thank you for completing the circle.

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Nhien Nguyen 14 May 2017

I appreciate your comments. Thank you for reading this poems. I hope that this poem may heal someone's heart. Your support means a lot to me. Nhien

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Bharati Nayak 04 May 2017

What a heart rending account of sufferings of people of Vietnam who tried to escape by small boats from their mother land ravaged by war .Such incidents still occurring.The poem brings tears to my eyes.- - - - -

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Nhien Nguyen 05 May 2017

Thank you for your comments. I hope that this poem may heal someone's heart. I appreciate your support. Nhien

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