Ly Lang Nhan:  A Retrospective
Thomas D. Le


Twenty-six years after the Viet Nam War has receded into history, it is possible to adopt the detachment of a new generation for whom this tragic experience is just another chapter in the history book.

The generations of men and women who were involved in the cataclysmic events of this war came from all walks of life, from professionals to peasants, from artists to artisans, from manual laborers to intellectuals. In the war's aftermath large numbers of the diaspora have settled peacefully in this their adopted country, trying to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, and raising a new generation.

A number of creative and artistic minds among them, who at other times would contribute greatly to the literary and cultural life of their former homeland, are still with us today. Many have been forever scarred and silenced by their war-time experience. But others snapped out of their trauma to relive their dreams, and began once again to raise their voices, picking up where they had left off decades ago.

Did any of those people swept in the tidal wave of the war ever question the meaning of it all? There are no doubt some. There are no doubt those who question everything that happened since the end of World War II. They question notions such as truth, peace, liberty, the dignity of life, of which Albert Camus spoke in his 1957 Nobel Prize acceptance speech. Being a Frenchman who had fought during the great war, and suffered the humiliation of defeat and occupation, Camus attacked the debasement of intelligence in the service of death and destruction, proclaimed his commitment to freedom, and upheld the ideals of justice, duty, sacrifice. It is ironic that the very same forces that Camus deplored for having enslaved France were after the war to be visited upon a country it was unwilling to relinquish. The voice of protest was muted on this side of the divide, lest it be branded seditious, subversive, or worse. Yet the situation was irreconcilable. How do truth, freedom, and justice prevail by subjecting another people to lies, servitude, and injustice?

The war is a complex issue, irreducible to facile slogans and sanctimonious pronouncements from any side. One can speak of the nobility of the human mind in the same breadth as the prevalence of moral bankruptcy. History has recorded the twentieth century as the worst and the best that humanity has lived through, and laid bare the contradictions of the human condition. Every noble impulse of which mankind is capable has been subverted by its antithesis. For this is the essence of humanity, bounced back and forth between good and evil, forces at once uplifting its spirit and debasing its nobility.

I am not here examining history, its lessons or even its facts. I am just trying to recapture a tiny corner of life as it impinged on certain lives who, by virtue of their endowments, could have been very different from what they are today. My focus will be circumscribed to the area of literary and artistic creativity that is abundantly manisfested among a small group of Vietnamese expatriates in the United States.

Far from being a piece of systematic research, this is but an attempt to initiate a discourse on the works of some such individuals, which might never come to light but for efforts like this one.

Regardless of the state of consciousness that the circumstances of warfare must have aroused among its participants, it behooves us now to scour the present in search of talents among them that their creativity, voices, feelings, and hope may be preserved before the march of time obliterates them all.

These remarkable people refuse to extinguish their dreams during the darkest days of the war, for they are themselves only when they continue to live their feelings in poetry or in songs. Many are the voices that embrace a romanticism tinged with melancholy that is ingrained in the Vietnamese psyche. The larger issues of the time far from impairing this disposition merely pass it by for those souls who yearn for an expression of emotions first and foremost. It is not that moral issues do not for them exist; they just do not rise above the threshold that I am setting for this work.

I have the privilege of knowing one such creative artist.

Writing under the pen name of Lý Lãng Nhân, this poet, songwriter and ertswhile Army officer who had been cheated out of his artistic career for decades by the war, had lived through it all. Ly is a long-time friend, going back to the pre-War years in the fascinating city of Saigon, whom I remember as an artist whose dreams were stymied, and yet retained an ardent faith in the day when they would become reality. We were young then, full of life, and dreams for a marvelous future. We could do anything we wanted, be anyone we wanted, even to become penniless poets, writers, musicians, artists. Then the war came, and everything in our lives was turned upside down.

Although Ly was robbed of years of creativity, his poetic sensibility has remained as acute, and his artistry as rich as they have ever been. Through the years when death and destruction were constant reminders of a tragic existence, Ly managed to nurture his gifts. Someday he would break free from the events and resume the life that he had envisioned in his youth but could not yet live. Now that the war is a distant memory, he has finally come into his own, albeit belatedly.

Like most able-bodied men in South Viet Nam during the war, Ly was drafted into the armed forces, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel before the war ended. Following the waves of exodus to the United States in the mid-1970's, Ly settled in the Hunstville, Alabama conurbation, and began to rebuild his life. Over the last two decades, working against the pressure of carving a place under the sun for his family and himself, he has finally taken up his pen again. In fact he has never laid down his pen, it simply works in slow motion.

And the result is a collection of poems (a sampling of which is presented here) that rekindles the past with authenticity and depth of feelings while also giving voice to his rich experience of the present.

In this space I want to give Ly his due, and let him speak to us in a way that he was never able to do so before. Settle back then in your comfortable chair, and share with him his unique experience.

Once upon a time (in 1957 to be precise) there was a young Army officer, still a bachelor in the prime of his life, whose romantic sensibility decidedly went against the grain of everything military life stands for. Where discipline was demanded the officer manifested a reverie that would drive a no-nonsense martinet out of his mind. Where toughness was required the young officer exhibited a tender sensitive heart. Yet he took to the military way of life with as much adaptability as any worthy soldier, and in the process was steeled to the physical and mental rigors of duty, service, sacrifice, and, not least, privations.

Shortly after his assignment to the 3rd Field Division in Song Mao, the young officer took a measure of his new surroundings. Not only did he have to reconnoiter the area to familiarize himself with the terrain for defensive purposes, he also had a curiosity about what was to be his new home for months and years to come.

Here was a strip of land lying in the coastal plain of Central Viet Nam known to be among the most desolate in the country. The rocky soil denuded by the wind relentlessly blowing in from the sea resembled the barren mares of the moon. During the day the torrid sun baked equipment and men alike while at night the penetrating cold reduced the soldiers to bundles of shivering bones. It is a land where nothing grew easily, where the locals eked out a subsistence living at tremendous cost of labor and toil, where mere survival was a feat of extraordinary courage, and where staying put was an act of defiance against nature.

This is the ancient land of the kingdom of Champa, whose vestiges now remain solely in the solitary brick towers and sparse hamlets that punctuate the barrenness and desolation. The relatively newer Vietnamese settlers, whose inexorable march to the South over the centuries seemed to have followed a sort of manifest destiny, swept through the region, some to stay, many to move on to the lush fertile delta of the mighty Mekong River.

Ly, for he was the young officer in this saga, recollects how he, a Southern boy accustomed to abundance and green paddies, had to deal with the isolation, the utter loneliness, the aridity around, and a taciturn population who was as steadfast as the rocks that strewed the landscape. This was an environment that would stultify any sensibility and atrophy any lust for life.

Yet, with vivid memory of those days in the forlorn encampment, Ly relives a love that has long been buried in the mist of decades, which to him is a poignant evocation, and a heart-rending experience. His is the voice of a soldier torn between the harsh reality of military duty, the tender feelings of love, and a vague, drenching melancholy that permeated his soul.

In the Phan Ri area, where he was stationed, there was a pine forest, which though not as extensive as the rain forests farther south, provided a relief of sorts from the searing heat of the day. But for Ly the nights on duty were nothing but long stretches of bitter cold interrupted by dreams about an absent sweetheart. The utter solitude of the military installation, its mind-numbing routine, and the constant hazards of hostilities were his daily fare. Yet nothing, not the guns nor yet the threat of skirmishes could distract the young officer from steeping himself in his reverie, for nothing could lessen the intense affection he felt for the one young woman he had met barely a year earlier.

Here is how he recalled this love.

Ðêm rùng thông Phan Rí

Phan Rí Chàm ðêm rùng thông ta.m trú,
ánh trang buô`n suong nho? gio.t trên cành.
Gió thì thâ`m nhu' go.i mãi tên anh,
Trong giâ'c ngu~ xô bô` em cho.t ðê'n.

Anh mo'? mát nhìn sao khuya lâp lánh.
Ba-lô ðâ`y anh tu'.a gôi ðêm thanh,
Ôm báng súng mo' nguòi vùa quen biêt
Xót xa tình mói chu~a ðuo.c ðây` nam.

Ma~nh áo chiên co ro ðêm la.nh thâm,
Nhó thuong hoài giây phút âm bên nhau.
Rùng thông o'i có biêt nô?i buô`n ðau,
Tình tri~u na.ng tim tràn ðâ`y thô?n thu'c.

Madison, Alabama, 31 tháng 12, 2001


Evening in the Phan Ri Pine Forest

Sheltered in the Phan Ri pine groves of Chamland eve,
As the dew dropped from the trees in the sad moonlight,
I was listening to the wind murmur my name,
When you appeared all sudden in my troubled sleep.

I woke up and beheld the bright stars shine,
My head at rest against the duffel bag,
I clutched the gun and dreamed of my new love
That hardly had a year of painful life.

Bundled in battledress in the cold I shivered
Recalling of the warm days of love together,
O pines, do you know the pains I suffered
For this love that tore my heart asunder?

31 December 2001

Une nuit dans la forêt de sapins à Phan Ri

Abrité le soir dans la forêt de sapins à Phan Ri des Chams
Au triste clair de lune la rosée tombe sur les branches,
Tandis que le vent susurre en murmurant mon nom,
Je te vois apparaître soudainement dans mes rêves troublés.

J'ouvre les yeux et vois des étoiles qui scintillent
Ma tête reposant sur le balot rempli,
Le fusil dans mes bras je rêve à mon nouvel amour
Qui n'a à peine un an de vie souffrante.

Peloté dans mon uniforme je tremble de froid,
Ah, que les moments ensemble me manquent !
Forêt de sapins, sais-tu les douleurs que j'éprouve
à cause de cet amour qui déchire mon coeur ?


West of Phan Ri the terrain rises toward the Central Highlands, which were dotted with small valleys surrounded by craggy hills covered with xerophilous vegetation. One of these arid valleys, Song Mao, was defended by units of the 3rd Field Division, a crack outfit made up predominantly of Nung tribesmen from the mountains of North Viet Nam.

The landscape of Song Mao, the former land of the Chams, was a forbidding, God-forsaken, unyielding, inhospitable one, totally devoid of romantic connotations of any kind. Here survival required a firm grasp of reality, a head in constant lookout for dangers, a body resistant to privations, a mind alert to shell-shock and boredom, guts, grit, among other things. There was little time for nostalgic reflections, much less for dreams of tender love or artistic creations.

Still to Ly, Song Mao had an inexplicable allure, a ruggedness that concealed ineffable charm, and above all a wildness that electrified his imagination. The place was a challenge to his mettle, to his instinct of survival, and, oddly enough, to his artistic sensitivity. Soaking up the oppressive sun during the day and warding off the bone-chilling air at night, Ly managed to seize a few moments of peace for his imagination to run wild, his poetry to flow freely, and his songs to echo a profound nostalgia.

For Ly songs and poetry are indistinguishable. I can imagine him singing his poems as much as reciting his songs. I have found in both the same creative imagination, the same grace with which imagery is created, the same poetic sensibility, the same lyricism, and the same command of the word.

Listen to what a Song Mao evening had evoked in this soldier's fevered mind. This song, that he wrote decades ago, is to me no less than a piece of exquisite poetry. The repetitive interjections of Song Mao bespeaks an intense feeling of the pervasive presence of this haunting landscape in Ly's psyche.

Chiê`u Sông Mao
1957

Chiê`u roi xuông quanh núi ðô`i,
Màn suong buông lo'i,
Khói lam chiê`u gây niê`m nhó.

Sông Mao,
Rùng say gió quên tháng ngày,
Chiê`u ro'i êm êm.
Sâ`u cô lu'~ dâng triê`n miên.

Ngày ði
Ðêm tôi giang màng,
ánh trang lã lo'i.

Rùng núi
Ngát xanh mô.t màu.
Bóng chim la.c lôi.
Nhó nhung lòng ðau.
Ai biêt cho ngày sau.

Tình xu'a
Nhu khói suong mò
Phu~ vây ngàn lôi.

Còn ðó
ánh trang nam nào
Lung linh ðâ`u núi.
Aí ân còn chi,
Em khóc khi biê.t ly.

Sông Mao,
Nguòi lu'~ khách chôn bóng hình.
Ngàn thu mu'a bay,
Ðá cây kia nhu' hò hu~ng.

Sông Mao,
Rùng say gió quên tháng ngày.
Chiê`u ro'i êm êm,
Sâ`u cô lu'~ dâng triê`n miên.

Madison, Alabama, 28 tháng 12, 2001

Song Mao Evening

Song Mao.
As twilight falls on the hills,
And the veil of fog descends gently,
The gray smoke rises with my nostalgic thoughts.

Song Mao.
The wind stirs the woods lost to time,
As the eventide softly alights,
And my lonely melancholy stretches to eternity.

The waning day
Yields to the darkness of night
Seduced by the moonlight.

The woods
In its immense green
Witness the lost birds.
And I feel my heart riven
For countless tomorrows.

My old love
Like blinding smoke
Fills thousands of pathways.

It's still there,
The moonlight of yore
That bathed the mountaintops.
Oh, where is my love,
Who cried our last farewell?

Oh Song Mao!
Where the traveler loses his bearing
In the eternal rains
Amidst indifferent rocks and trees.

Oh Song Mao!
Where the wind-soaked woods oblivious of time
Stand in the soft nightfall
To witness the wayfarer's pervasive melancholy.

28 December 2001

Le soir à Song Mao

Song Mao.
Au moment crépusculaire les montagnes
Sont voilées de brume,
Et les fumées sombres évoquent mes pensées nostalgiques.

Song Mao.
Les forêts sont battues du vent éternel
Quand le soir doucement tombe
Mon âme est remplie de profonde mélancolie.

Au départ du jour
La nuit pend son rideau
Au clair de lune séduisant.

Les bois
Sont d'un vert foncé uni
Où les oiseaux perdent leur chemin.
Et j'éprouve une douleur écrasante
En face d'un avenir incertain.

Mon ancien amour
Est perdu dans la brume opaque
Qui ensevelit tous les chemins.

Il est encore là
Le clair de lune d'antan
Qui s'étalait sur les sommets.
Qu'est-ce qui reste de notre amour
Quand tu pleura lors de notre dernier adieu?

O Song Mao!
Où le voyageur se perd
Au milieu des pluies éternelles
à l'indifférence des rochers et des arbres.

O Song Mao!
Où les bois ivres de vents oublient le temps.
Quand la nuit tombe
Le voyageur solitaire souffre d'une mélancolie immense.


Few moments were more painful to Ly than those he spent one day at the train station, waiting in vain for the arrival of his girlfriend. There he was in this lonely Song Mao station, pacing the platform and gazing absent-mindedly at the rails escaping into the gathering dusk. Then the fog descended, blurring the dim yellow lights that feebly illuminated the now-deserted building. At last the train arrived, but not his beloved. When the train had left, carrying with it his dashed hopes and leaving behind a profound pain, Ly went back to his unit heavy-hearted and dejected. He was crushed by loneliness. His shattered heart cried silently of despair.

Mong chuyên tàu
1957

Song Mao soi? ðá nui chen ru'`ng
Gôi súng nam tròn biêt ðo'.i mong
Tàu ði, ga vang em không ðên
Có biêt tình anh vãn ma.n nông`

Mong chuyên tàu
Ru'`ng chiê`u sác tím mô.t màu
Ðèn ga thâp thoáng suong mù
Nhu' chìm sâu...

Mo' bóng nguo`i
Chiê`u nào em hé môi cu'o'`i
Thanh thanh áo em nhe. bay
Cho hô`n anh ngât ngây.

Vê` ðây anh mong
Ðô`i núi bát ngát
Tình thám se~ no'~
Vo'i mô.ng ý xu'a.

Tình nhu xa xam
Mà ðây trong tâm
Triê`u dzâng bâng khuâng
Bô`i hô`i luyên tiêc mô.ng xuân.

Madison, Alabama, 04 tháng 01, 2002


Awaiting the Train

In rock-strewn Song Mao, girt by forests and mountains
With my gun as companion I have waited a year.
You weren't on the train that left the empty station.
Just be assured, my darling, of my steadfast love.

I awaited your train
Near a wood enshrouded in the deep purple dusk,
And the station lights feebly shining through the fog
In the thick darkness.

I dreamed of you,
Of your dainty smiles lighting up the eventide,
Your dress fluttering in the wind,
Filling my heart with ectasy.

Come back to my waiting arms
Here in the midst of vast wooded hills,
To see our love once more flower
Just as in our old dreams.

Far away my love has gone
Filling my heart
With waves of anguish
And regrets for my broken dreams of spring.

L'attente du train

A Song Mao rocheux cerné de collines et de forêts
Avec mon fusil je t'attendais toute l'année.
Malgré ton absence sur le train qui partit
Rassures-toi que je t'aime de tout mon coeur.

J'attendis ton train
Au soir quand la forêt se teignit de pourpre
Au clair des lampes à peine perant le brouillard
En pleine nuit profonde.

Je rêve à toi,
Avec tes sourires ce soir-là
Et ta tunique flottant au vent
Qui m'enchantaient.

Reviens, je t'attends.
Dans l'immense forêt
Notre amour s'épanouira
Réalisant notre rêve.

Cet amour qui s'enfuit
De mon coeur
Le remplit d'angoisse
Et de rêves frustrés du printemps.


No time of the day touches Ly's heart more profoundly than when the sun has sunk below the horizon. Nightfall casts a magic spell on him. When twilight slowly yields to darkness, and the birds hurry back to their nests flitting about like myriad stars, he listens to the silent fall of evening, and the birds' wing flaps woven into a nocturnal symphony.

Chim hoàng hôn

Chiê`u nhe. lan
Trên ðô`i hoang
Ta láng nghe
Trong không gian
Bóng tôi âm thâ`m tràn dâng lên kháp ne~o.

Và ðó ðây
Bát ngát
ánh tà duong luu luyên ði?nh cao
Nhu tha~m nha.c
Muôn cánh chim tro`i vô.i vã thâp ðèn sao.

Madison, June 23, 2001


The Twilight Birds

As the evening gloom spreads
Over the wild hills,
I listen
Across vast expanses
To the darkness silently engulf the world.

Hither thither
Immensity
Clings to the lingering rays on the heights
With pervasive music,
While the birds speedily wing home like myriad stars.

Les oiseaux crépusculaires

Comme les ténèbres s'épandent
Sur des collines sauvages,
J'écoute
À travers des espaces illimités
Les ombres silencieusement envahir l'univers.

Deçà delà
L'immensité
S'enlace avec les rayons crépusculaires aux sommets
Au son de la musique persistante,
Et les oiseaux se rentrent en hâte comme des myriades d'étoiles.


His now-home state of Alabama has only a short stretch of beach on the Gulf of Mexico. Yet, it is not the beach's size that matters. It is enough for him to be there looking beyond the water's edge, dotted with boats and filled with the songs of seabirds, to the hazy horizon, for his past loves to revive and infuse his heart with deep longing.

A-La Sóng Biê?n Buôn

Mù khoi vây phu? con thuyê`n,
Tiê'ng ca ha?i yê'n lan truyê`n vê` ðây.
Tôi chôn tôi o'? phuong này,
Nghe vang sóng biê?n nhìn ðâ`y mát nai.

Tóc nguô`n tri~u na.ng bo'` vai;
Nguo'`i thuong xa váng còn ai tu tình.
Quê xua tu'o'?ng bóng nho' hình,
Ngàn nam chua dút chuyê.n tình nuo'c tôi.

Madison, Alabama tháng 3, 2001


Longing By The Seashores of Alabama

Behold the hazy waves enshroud the boats
Amidst the songs of birds that wash ashore.
Here I am buried in this my abode
And miss my doe-eyed love as waters roar.

Her long and lush hair falls on shoulders thin,
In whom without her do I fain confide?
My old home lives deep in my heart in pain,
And its eternal story'll never die.

Nostalgie au bord des mers d'Alabama

Les vagues infinies encerclent les bateaux
Au milieu des cris d'oiseaux de mer.
Dans ces parages où je confine mon existence,
Comme la jeune femme aux yeux de cerf me manque !

Sa chevelure tombe grâcieusement sur ses épaules,
Sans mon amour à qui me confie-je mes sentiments ?
Je pense sans cesse à ma vieille patrie
Dont l'histoire vivra éternellement.


Adjacent to Phan Ri, Phan Rang province, where Ly was also stationed, creates a rather different impression. Though still in the arid coastal plain, this area has certain redeeming qualities that tend to evoke tender feelings and pleasant thoughts of spring, when butterflies flirt with flowers in radiant sunshine. Still his vague melancholy lurks just beneath the surface, an indescribable longing for something that is missing in his life. The deep blue sea in one direction and the new spring growth of flowers in the other sent Ly to an imaginary world in which the eternal wayfarer, himself, that is, never reaches his destination from spring to autumn and back again. His is an unending quest for a love that is not, a reflection of Ly's own quest for a love that is no more. His is a timeless reverie that transports his soul to the never-never land of consummated love. Ly uses the image of a butterfly alighting on a flower as the metaphor of courtship. But absent the object of his love, and nothing makes sense. All is futile, all is emptiness.

Hoa Buóm Rùng Mai

Ngày Xuân hón ho'? rong cho'i
Be~ mai hái lô.c cho ðo'i` thám xinh
Náng xuyên ke? lá lung linh
Hat. suong ngân ðô.ng ân tình tu'` ðây

Gió xuân lay ðô.ng ru'`ng mai
Vàng gieo bu'o'm lu'o'.n hoa bay châ.p cho'n`
Sao còn e âp giôi~ ho'`n
Ngày Xuân bay mât hoa còn thám ðây.

Phan Rang biên? sóng vo'i ðâ`y,
Nuóc xanh trong vát rùng dzâ`y co? hoa.
Ho'?i nguòi khách tu.c phuong xa,
Mây trôi phiêu la~ng xê' qua nu'~a ðo'`i

Xuân ði thu to'i nho' nguo'`i,
Trùng duong cách tro? núi ðô`i mây giang.
Ru'`ng mai váng bóng giai nhân,
Bu'o'm kia thôi có ân câ`n vói ai.

Madison, Alabama, tháng 11, 2001


The Apricot Orchard

Oh Spring Festival! Season to rejoice,
Go gather flowers to adorn your lives.
Enjoy the sun sparkling through the foliage,
And the dew drops that witness our new love.

The Spring breeze stirs the apricot orchard
Yellow, where butterflies flirt with blossoms.
Why not abandon our capricious spite
For flowers remain fresh though spring has waned.

Here is Phan Rang, washed by the open sea,
Its blue waters, and flower-studded meadows.
Oh thee of the country from far away
Where hast thou spent thy life all these long years?

Spring passes, autumn comes, I long for one
Miles of the sea, mountain ranges away.
Just one beloved beauty is missing and
What use is the butterfly's courting?

Le verger d'abricots

O festival de printemps, jours de célébration,
Ceuillons les fleurs pour embellir notre vie.
Le soleil scintille à travers les feuillages
Où les rosées témoignent de notre amour naissant.

La brise printanière remue le verger d'abricots
Jaunes, où les papillons courtisent les fleurs.
Pourquoi garder le dépit de tantôt
Puisque les fleurs sont fraîches au départ du printemps.

Me voici à Phan Rang, au bord des mers
Aux flots bleux limpides, aux prairies fleuries.
O voyageur des contrées lointaines
Où as-tu donc vécu, et des nuages d'antan ?

Du printemps à l'automne je pense à mon amour
Au delà des mers, des montagnes et des forêts.
En son absence dans le verger des abricots
à quoi sert l'attention des papillons aux fleurs ?



This emptiness fills the void in his heart, and the world becomes empty.

***

Saigon 1972. In the midst of the war, Ly was transferred to the capital from Danang. One late afternoon while he was sitting in his Jeep in the almost deserted parking lot at the Tan Son Nhat Air Base waiting for his wife Teresa to get off work, thoughts of the steadfast love that bound them together came over him.

He pursued his thoughts to the beginning of this love: how it had developed, and how after decades it was still as strong, as unswerving and as all-consuming as it had ever been. Right at that moment he was seized by a desire to sing of this faithful commitment to each other. He wanted to write a lyrical song, something that would stir the listener's emotions and reveal the depth of his affection for his wife.

Strangely though, Ly found himself struggling hard to get started. And the harder he tried, the more he found himself deserted by his muse, unable to utter the first word of the now consummated love. It is as if once attained happiness was no longer what it had seemed when still uncertain and elusive. It is as if Eden was populated by banality and vapidity. Yet while the excitement of love had been subdued, its strength managed to keep working subliminally and providing the impetus for Ly to keep trying.

At last, his efforts resulted in a song that was moving enough and charming enough to have been played by the band at the Officers' Club No. 20 in Saigon. But Ly was not exactly satisfied. He kept working on it when he could find the time. His love was too precious to be relegated to workaday status.

Now thirty years later, he revived the song, and offered it as a reaffirmation of his love, which has never diminished in commitment, faithfulness, and intensity. It is a celebration of one of the most noble emotions in human life.

Lest any comment spoil the purity of Ly's sentiments, allow them to speak directly to your heart.

Ðôi nha.n tráng

(Ðê? ca ngoi Tình Yêu Chung Thu?y)

Ngày tình vùa chóm no?
Hát khúc hát tuong tu
Tùng giây ngóng chò

Rôi vòng tay êm ái
Môi thám men say
Tình mói

Ngày tình ðâu luu luyên
Mái tóc trao duyên
Cùng em uóc nguyên

Tình mình màu xanh ngát
Nam tháng không phai
Môt lân thôi !

Ðôi ta sinh ra
Nhu hoa buóm vàng
Gap nhau kiêp này
He.n kêt duyên hoài cho mai sau

Bao nhiêu Xuân qua
Tình Thu suong khói
Rôi Ðông tuyêt bay
ái ân nông thám
Tình không phai

Ngày lu?a tình mói nhóm
Có tiêng chim non
Nhe ru lôi mòn

Rôi môt mùa trang sáng
Tay âm trong tay
nông thám

Nhu cành mai trong náng
Ðón gió Xuân sang
Nu hôn chín vàng

Mình là dôi nhan tráng
Nhip cánh tung mây
Tình nông say.

Madison, Alabama, 12 thang 03, 2002


The Two White Swallows
(In honor of an undying love)

The day our love was born
I sang my lovesickness
consumed in anxiety.

Then came the first embrace
and the ectatic kiss
of new love.

With the bond of first love
on our youthful years
we exchanged our vows.

Our love as pure as the blue sky
never fades with time
the one and only.

We were born
as butterfly and flower
bound in this life
in eternal bond.

Countless springs after
and autumns foggy
and winters snowy
our love still lives,
burns undiminished.

At the first embers of love
the birds' song
lit up our path.

In the moonlit night
our arms entwined
in tender embrace.

Like sun-soaked apricot blossoms
celebrated the spring
so did our kisses.

We are two white swallows
flying the skies
in love's ectasy.

Madison, Alabama, 12 March, 2002

Les deux hirondelles blanches
(Pour célébrer un amour impérissable)

A la naissance de notre amour
je chantais mes sentiments
plein d'anxiété.

Puis venaient la première embrasse
et le premier baiser en extase
de notre amour.

En notre premier amour
sur notre jeunesse
nous prenions nos voeux.

Pur comme le ciel bleu
notre amour ne s'altère
seul et unique.

Nous étions nés
papillon et fleur
qui s'unissent cette vie
jusqu'à l'éternité.

Maints printemps passés
des automnes brumeux
aux hivers neigeux
nos tendresses
restent inaltérées.

Aux premiers sursauts d'amour
le chant des oiseaux
guidaient nos chemins.

Au clair de lune
nous nous enlacions
avec ardeur.

Comme une branche d'abricot au soleil
qui accueille le printemps
avec un baiser doux.

Comme deux hirondelles blanches
dans les cieux nuageux
amoureuses extasiées.

Madison, Alabama, 12 mars, 2002


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