The Hamlet
Thomas D. Le

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
Cho tôi nhan dôi lòi nguòi tôi mên thuong
Xa xôi nhó chang
Môt chuyên du hành bao nam chua quên
Ðuòng làng quanh co bóng tre lang im.

Ai di Trúc Giang
Tôi nhó mot ngày nam xua có ai
Ôi dôi mat nai
Voi mái tóc huyên tung bay lã loi
Ky niêm nam xua luyên luu hôn tôi.

Náng sóm lâp lánh chiêu qua rang lá sáng lung linh.
Môt dàn cò bay trên muôn sóng lúa mênh mông.
Có tiêng khúc khích cua dam ba chú muc dông.
Môt troi hôn nhiên cho tôi chot thây xuân nông.

Em oi, em oi, nhó chang ngày dó qua Trúc Giang,
Tuôi hông tình xuân ngây ngât em nói: Yêu anh.
Xuân này xôn xao bông nhiên chot nhó nam nào.
Mà lòng tram vuóng trôi theo di vãng dat dào.

Dedicated to my dear friend Thomas D. Le
Who understood, appreciated and encouraged
my escapades on the Wings of Music.

David V. Lee

Oh traveler to Bamboo Hamlet!

Oh traveler to Bamboo Hamlet!
You who pass by, let me send my love these words
Of longing from land beyond Bamboo River,
And memories of journeys on silent paths
Through old bamboo groves swaying in the zephyr.

Oh traveler to Bamboo Hamlet!
How will I ever forget the days when she
Of the eyes of gentle does grazing in the woods
And of the ebony hair scattered by the breeze
Stirred my heart with thousands of undying moods?

From morn till dawn through the foliage glittered the sun.
Flocks of storks glided over the emerald rice fields
Filled with the laughter of carefree buffalo hands,
Soothed my soul with the charm and peace divine spring yields.

Oh sweetheart, remember the day in the hamlet
When in youthful ecstasy you said, "I love you"?
This spring brought sudden yearnings of the years long past,
And led me back to the fair Hamlet of Bamboo.

O voyageur au Hameau de Bambou!

O voyageur au Hameau de Bambou!
Toi qui passes, emporte à mon amour mes tendresses
Du pays au delà de la Rivière de Bambou
Pour revivre les voyages sur des sentiers paisibles
Parmi les bambous qui ondoient au zéphyr doux.

O voyageur au Hameau de Bambou!
Comment pourrai-je oublier la jeune dame
Qui, avec ses yeux de chevreuil éternels
Et sa chevelure d'ébène flottant au vent,
Remplit mon coeur de souvenirs immortels?

Du matin au soir le soleil perçait le feuillage.
Les cigognes planant sur des rizières verdoyantes,
Animées de rires des gardiens de buffles au breuvage,
Berçaient mon âme dans l'atmosphère vernale charmante.

O mon amour, souviens-tu le jour au domaine
Où remplie d'extase de jeunesse, "Je t'aime," tu dis?
Ce printemps m'apporte la nostalgie soudaine
Des jours anciens et du hameau tellement joli.

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