PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1/2, August 2018
ISSN 1449-2490 | Published by UTS ePRESS | http://portal.epress.lib.uts.edu.au
Two Poems by Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, Writing in Vietnamese as Thường Quán, With English Translations by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu
2 Macquarie University. firstname.lastname@example.org
Corresponding author: Mr Ian Campbell, Honorary Research Associate, Department of International Studies: Languages and Cultures, Macquarie University, NSW 2109. Australia. Email: email@example.com
Article History: Received 30/11/2017; Revised 10/06/2018; Accepted 15/06/2018; Published 23/08/2018
Citation: Hoàng, N.T., Quán, T., Campbell, I. and Chu, T. 2018. Two Poems by Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, Writing in Vietnamese as Thường Quán, With English Translations by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu. PORTAL Journal of Multidisciplinary International Studies, 15:1/2, pp. 121-124. https://doi.org/10.5130/portal.v15i1-2.5845
© 2018 by the author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.
Born in 1956 in Danang, Vietnam, Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng arrived in Australia in 1974 on a Colombo Plan scholarship. In writing poetry and literary essays in Vietnamese over more than thirty years he has generally used the pen name, Thường Quán. However, as Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, his English language poems have been featured in the Poetry International Web series of Australian poets—https://www.poetryinternationalweb.net/pi/site/poet/item/20689—as well as in a number of Australian poetry book collections, the most recent being Captive and Temporal, published by Vagabond Press (Sydney & Tokyo, 2017) in its Australia Series—https://vagabondpress.net/collections/australia—which was short-listed for both the 2018 Kenneth Slessor Prize for Poetry and the Mary Gilmore Award in 2018.
The poems published in this issue of PORTAL, ‘Ngoài Giấc Ngủ’ and ‘Hiện Ra,’ were included in the book poetry collection—also titled Ngoài Giấc Ngủ—published in California, USA, in 1990, which featured sixty-seven poems by Melbourne-based Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng, writing under the pen name Thường Quán. In 1994 the Journal of Vietnamese Studies (Melbourne) published the poem ‘Ngoài Giấc Ngủ,’ together with a first English language version co-translation, titled ‘Beyond,’ by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu. An adaptation of the poem was sung in Vietnamese ngâm style by Thu Huong Huynh, as part of ‘A Spring Evening of Poetry, Translated Verse and Music’ held in 1995 in Sydney to mark 50 years of post-war migration to Australia. The English language version later appeared in 1996, with the original poem in Vietnamese, in a Sydney-based Vietnamese language newspaper, and in 2002 the English language translation appeared again in Sunlines: An Anthology of Poetry to Celebrate Australia’s Harmony in Diversity, edited by Anne Fairbairn (Canberra: Dept. of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs, 2002). The English language co-translation of the poem appeared in Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng’s collection, Captive and Temporal (Sydney & Tokyo: Vagabond Press, 2017). The poem, ‘Ngoài Giấc Ngủ,’ now appears in its Vietnamese language original form (1990), and in an English language co-translation by Chu and Campbell which varies slightly from all previous translations. An English language version of the poem, ‘Hiện Ra,’ has never been previously published and appears now in a co-translation as ‘Becoming Visible,’ together with the 1990 poem in its original Vietnamese language version.
Poetry; Australia; Vietnamese Diaspora; Nguyễn Tiên Hoàng; Thường Quán; Ian Campbell; Tony Chu; Ngoài Giấc Ngủ; Hiện Ra
Ngoài Giấc Ngủ
Những người khuất mặt
Đến lặng lẽ chào tôi trong đêm
Khoảng cách là những cuộc đời
Nở hoa hiển tử
Tím xanh tròng mắt dòng sông
Đôi bờ quán lữ
Tay tìm nhau
Chẳng thể sờ chạm
Giọt mưa không giọt mưa không
Rơi ngoài giấc ngủ
Trôi vào hun hút mùa đông
Những ao làng xám rũ
Núi đồi bia mộ lách lau
Gió bần bật bần bật
Trắng thổi về đâu
Lạc mất câu chào
Trời mây thiên cổ
Chẳng tìm ra nhau
Chẳng tìm ra nhau
Nến thắp trong đêm
Những lời khan vọng.
Shades uneen, hidden
come silently to greet me in the night
Between those shades and I
so many lives, passed by
as flowers that bloom open
then wither—translucent as violets
Shades in the iris of a cold eye,
a cool stream before my eyes meandering,
pale blue; then the night
in this dark inn.
The gathering showers come,
hands seek out one another
unable to reach, to touch
empty drops, empty drops
Falling into a world beyond sleep
drifting endlessly, into winter,
and the bleakness of village ponds and hamlets destitute.
Mountains and hills, where tombstones part the sea of reeds
where the wind buffets and trembles
O white wind, where are you blowing to?
Lost from the night are the moments of greeting,
in this eternity of sky and cloud
they and I remain
Unable to seek the other
unable to find the other
A candle burns in the night
the beatings of the wind, hard to discern
still echo and reverberate…
Translation by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu (1993, 2017)
Hiện ra một giếng sầu ký thác
Một bờ sông chạy đầu lắc lư
Bờm ngựa đỏ trăng hai búi cỏ
Nến tàn phơ phất lửa phần thư.
Rồi hiện ra người đen nhánh tóc
Đi tìm nhặt nhạnh giữa đêm mù
Những trang cháy dở hồn than khóc
Về gọi thơ lên đàn giải oan.
Hiện ra đàn trẻ thơ hồng ửng lồng đèn
Ôm sừng trăng non về trả đường tre ấm lửa
Bầy đom đóm bay vào ở giữa
Hồ ao trắng ngát độ nở sen.
Mở cửa thôn làng mở cửa
Hiện ra kiềng bạc áo nâu non
Oan khi gột sạch lòng son
Hiện ra ô cửa mây lành hiện ra.
Becoming visible, this well into which I trustingly cast
my melancholy, along a river’s edge, a galloping horse,
its fiery mane flaring up, the light of the moon is shining
upon tufts of grass, and ash of the candle turns white
as the flame meanders across the pages.
Becoming visible again, a woman with jet black hair flowing
looking for what is lost in the fog-mist of the night,
her soul weeping over the half-burnt pages
drawing forth the muse to the task of setting all aright.
Becoming visible, children silhouetted in red of lantern light,
gathering up the rimméd horn of the young moon over the
bamboo-shrouded road, warm night, fireflies dart here and there,
between moths, aflutter upon the scented ponds
as the lotus blooms.
I prise open the gate of the village, I open it,
I see the silver of the necklace worn over a brownish dress,
my heart is made whole again, away the past,
becoming visible, at the window, serene are the clouds.
Translation by Ian Campbell and Tony Chu (1994, 2017)
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