This work is the lyrics of a song that my friend David V. Lee wrote years ago in the old city of Saigon.
The realities of war and the military way of life that David had to live did not dampen his song-writing impulse or the tender love he felt for the countryside of South Vietnam. As an artist, David wrote songs to satisfy an inner need and his incurable romantic temperament. His musical elan has not faded over the years although his energy has manifested itself in other activities as well.
The intensity with which David evokes a love irretrievable, set against the backdrop of an old village by the river somewhere in the Mekong delta, permeates every word of this nostalgic song. His are reminiscences of the vast expanse of ricefields undulating in the breeze. Over this emerald sea the storks accented the warm spring atmosphere with their graceful white wings. He harbors intense affection for this land, where over three decades peace reigned only fitfully for very short intervals.
Far away from his sun-baked native land, David muses of a blissful realm where the sky is blue, the rivers placid, the air limpid, and the people gentle. It is the fertile southern delta that shaped his image of the past, in which the ricefields, the water buffaloes, and the bamboo groves basked in the warm sun whose arrows of light pierce the foliage of a lush flora.
Romantic to the core, in other times and in other climes, David might just be a prolific song-writer or poet or both for poetry and music are ingrained in every fiber of his being. I can still remember the halcyon days when he would sit on the balustrade of a vacant shrine in Saigon pecking his mandoline to the inspired words of romance he was singing. Then as he spotted me silently listening, he would turn around and asked what I thought. He would play his song again and again pausing for my comments at every strategic measure. He would alter a few notes, a rhythm, adding a legato here, a staccato there. Tomorrow he would refine his song again, playing one version then another. And again he would want to know my opinion.
So one day this spring from his Alabama home David sent me his song, which he had written in the time of his youth, to celebrate the rebirth of nature, but more significantly, to celebrate the rebirth of his poetic effusion. Although the music is absent, the stirrings of a profound romantic sensibility are very much evident in the lyrics.
I offer David's song here as I see it in English and French.
Ai di Trúc Giang
Ai di Trúc Giang
Náng sóm lâp lánh chiêu qua rang lá sáng lung linh.
Em oi, em oi, nhó chang ngày dó qua Trúc Giang,
Dedicated to my dear friend Thomas D. Le
David V. Lee