ĐÀM TRUNG PHÁP – Giới thiệu “Gọi Hồn” (Thơ Viên Linh) [1]

goihonGỌI HỒN

EVOKING THE SPIRITS OF

THOSE WHO PERISHED AT SEA [2]

Trên Huyết Hải thuyền trôi về một chiếc

Chiều bầm đen trời rực rỡ đau thương

Thân chìm xuống băng tuyền giờ tận biệt

Sóng bạc đầu hối hả phủ trùng dương

On the Blood Sea a single boat flowed back

The splendid evening sunlight gradually darkened

The bodies had sunk into the cold water from the boat

White-crested waves hurriedly covered the sea

Thấp thoáng trần gian

Mịt mù bóng đảo

Trôi về tây về bắc về đông

Trôi về đâu bốn bề thủy thảo

Về đâu kiếp đắm với thân trầm.

The world in a flashback

The island invisible in a mist

Drifting to the west or the east

The four corners were all marine plants

Whither would float these drowned bodies?

Hồn ơi dương thế xa dần

Hồn đi thôi nhé thủy âm là nhà

Hồn về trong cõi hà sa

Sống không trọn kiếp chết là hồi sinh.

Xong rồi một cõi u minh

Ngựa Hồ chim Việt biến hình mà đi.

Dear spirits, with this world farther and farther from you

Godspeed to your new abode undersea

You are returning to the realm of sand and water

With your lives cut short, you will come to life again after death

Done is your somber and dark world

The Hồ horse Việt bird identity shall metamorphose as you depart [3]

Hồn vẫn ở la đà Nam Hải

Hồn còn trôi mê mải ngoài khơi

Hồn còn tầm tã mưa rơi

Tháng Tư máu chảy một trời sương tan.

Yet, you still linger on the South Sea

Longingly drifting on the country’s seacoast

Crying torrentially

Like the blood that gushed in April since early mist

Thân chìm đắm cõi điêu tàn nước cũ

Những lâu đài thành quách những vàng son

Những tân thư kỳ mặc những linh đường

Những rực rỡ của một thời dựng nước

Bao mắt mở bao tóc sầu dựng ngược

Bao tay cùm bao ngực vỡ hôm qua

Trong rêu xanh ngần ngật bóng sơn hà

Lướt hải phận về dưới trời cố quốc.

The spirits’ submerged bodies now drift back to the desolate old country

With its castles and citadels in the golden days

Its great books, its hallowed shrines

Its splendor in the time of country-building [3]

With staring eyes and rising hairs

A myriad of former prisoners and injured people

In green moss, clinging to the image of the land

Speedily float toward their former country

Nhắm hướng hôi tanh

Chia bày trận mạc

Hồn binh tàn hỗn chiến Thủy Mộ Quan.

Targeting a land that is now putrid

Sharing battle plans

Spirits of disabled soldiers continue their war

from the Pass of Graves in the Sea

Đêm rơi thời hết vận tàn

Ô y cầu nhỏ người sang Lạc Hà

Thác rồi thân hóa phù sa

Mon men trở lại quê nhà mỗi đêm.

When night ends, so does their chance

In black clothes they cross the Lạc Hà bridge [4]

In bodies that have turned into alluvium

Gingerly they return to their homeland every night

Về đâu đêm tối

Hương lửa lung linh

Những ai còn bóng

Những ai mất hình

What is your destination in the dark

Amidst incense and flickering candlelight

Oh, those of you who keep your shadow

And those of you who have lost it all

Những ai vào kiếp phù sinh

Hóa thân hồ hải làm binh giặc trời

Khi nào hết quỉ ngoài khơi

Ta vào lục địa ta hồi cố hương

Having entered the cycle of lives

Let’s turn our seafaring bodies into celestial soldiers

Once we have dispatched all devils inhabiting our open sea

We will come ashore to our place of birth

Cùng nhau ta dựng lại nguồn

Chẻ tre đẵn gỗ vạch mương xây đình.

Ông Nghè về lại trong dinh

Tướng quân giữ ải thư sinh dưới đèn.

Từ Thức lại trở về tiên

Sĩ phu giảng huấn người hiền bình văn

Nương dâu trả lại con tằm

Ruộng xanh trả bác nông dân cần cù.

Ngựa ông trả lại thằng cu

Nhà chung trả Chúa chùa tu trả Thày

Quạt mo tao trả cho mày

Các cô yếm thắm trả bày trai tơ.

Việt Nam dựng lại sơn hà

Móng rồng năm lượt Quê Nhà phục hưng.

Together we will restore our traditions

Bamboo and timber will be cut to build moats and communal temples

The doctor of literature will return to his residence

The general to his frontier defense

The student to his desk

Từ Thức to fairyland [5]

Scholars to teaching, sages to literary review

Mulberry groves will go back to silkworms

Green rice paddies to hard-working farmers

The play horse to the young boy [6]

Monasteries to God, pagodas to the monk

The areca-spathe fan I will return to you [7]

Maidens in bright-red camisoles to young men

Vietnam will rebuild its nationhood

The five-claws dragon will herald our restored native land [8]

Đã tỉnh sầu u thương tiếc hết

Bình minh lên nghe, hoàng hôn biết

Chim lạnh về Nam sông núi ta

Không nói không cười chân trở bước.

Nỏ thần thủa trước

Gươm bén hồ xưa

Tràn lên như nước vỡ bờ

Lạc Long lại đón Âu Cơ về thuyền.

Các con từ dưới biển lên

Từ trên núi xuống hai miền gặp nhau.

Gone is all grief and regret

From dawn to dusk the news is heard

The cold birds have returned to the warm southern branch in their own land

Solemnly they come home

Magic crossbow of the past

Sharp sword from the old lake

Unstoppable is their revived power

Lạc Long welcomes Âu Cơ back to his boat

As their children up from the sea and

Down from the mountain are

Năm nghìn năm lại bắt đầu

Chim nào tha đá người đâu vá trời

Chúng ta rời bỏ xứ người

Loài chim trốn tuyết qui hồi cố hương.

Our five-thousand-year legacy will start anew

The rock-carrying bird, the sky-mending lady [9]

We are leaving a foreign land

Like snow-shunning birds returning to their native land

ANNOTATIONS

[1] Viên Linh is the pen name of Nguyễn Nam, born in 1938 in Hà Nam Province, North Vietnam. An accomplished poet and novelist, he has published numerous novels and poetic collections. His play Con Đường Ngựa Chạy brought him the 1972 Presidential Prize in Literature, and his novel Gió Thấp landed him the First Place in the Republic of Vietnam’s 1974 National Prizes in Literature and Arts. Among his best known poetic works are Hóa Thân (1964) and Thủy Mộ Quan (1982). Between 1961 and 1975, Viên Linh served as managing editor of several literary magazines in Saigon. Since his resettlement in the United States in 1975, he has earned his living as a newspaperman, a publisher, and currently as the editor and publisher of Khởi Hành, a literary review with an international readership.

[2] After April 1975, daring efforts by freedom-seeking Vietnamese people who took to the sea in decrepit boats were a great tragedy reported daily by the media, especially the Vietnamese-language press abroad. The most tragic aspect of this exodus was the starvation to death of children and the rape of women by sea pirates. By 1978, “boat people” had become well-known, and temporary refugee camps had been set up in various places in Southeast Asia. This poem is part of Viên Linh’s well-known work named Thủy Mộ Quan (The Pass of Graves in the Sea).

[3] That was when the Republic of Vietnam was established after the 1954 Geneva Agreement, with Saigon as its capital. It had a new flag and a new anthem, and more than 80 countries in the United Nations recognized it. In April of 1975, violating all signed agreements, communist North Vietnam overran this republic. As a result, more than 800,000 people from the South became boat people seeking freedom, and thousands of them drowned in the South China Sea.

[4] Lạc Hà (or Nại Hà) is the river of separation, spanned by a bridge. Crossing this bridge means entering the world of the dead.

[5] According to Vietnamese mythology, Từ Thức met a fairy named Giáng Hương and stayed with her in her world for a year. He became homesick and asked her to allow him a home visit, promising he would return. People and things back home had changed totally. An old man told him that Từ Thức was his grandfather who had disappeared 80 years earlier.

[6] The imaginary play horse for young boys in the old days was a long dried areca leaf that they dragged along the road, announcing their horse has arrived and asked people to feed it with grass.

[7] According to a legend, a young boy named “thằng bờm” had an areca-spathe fan. A rich man wanted to get it from him in exchange for expensive things, but to no avail. The boy finally agreed to just a handful of steamed rice. The story implies that the country people were realistic and not interested in vague promises.

[8] In Vietnamese paintings, a dragon has five claws in each foot. The Chinese dragon is painted with four claws in each foot.

[9] The bird “tinh vệ” and the lady named “Nữ Oa” in Chinese mythology were the symbols for people with tremendous determination and perseverance.

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