The Two Ocean Sides
Poem by Ly Lang Nhan

Introduced by Thomas D. Le

Decades after leaving their home country to settle in the United States, the Vietnamese diaspora has taken roots and raised a new generation. Many among the first generation came in mid-life, leaving behind a lifetime of hopes and aspirations, which were dashed when by force of circumstances they had to leave their country.

They have done a remarkable job adapting themselves to their new country, and can look back with pride at the heroic effort they have made to transform their uprooted families into ones acclimated to the new environment.

Soon, though, many of the first wave of emigration will make a passage to a new phase of their life, retirement and old age. They have risen to the challenge of rebuilding their own life, given a respectable account of their own ability, and shown resilience in the face of an uncertain future. There may still be regrets and disappointment at the lot they were dealt by fate. But by and large, these refugees have gained personal independence and for some, even financial success, because they have pride, and conduct themselves with dignity

During moments of introspection, sensitive minds take a look at the past, and feel an underlying nostalgia that they had silenced for so long. Ly Lang Nhan lends these souls a voice to express their regrets. Ly tells us it is all right to feel tender-hearted about their old country, and show the soft side of their hearts that make them that much more human.

And so let us listen to Ly as he pours out his heart in regrets about the soul-tormenting tug-of-war between the old country he has forever forsaken, and the new country he knows will see his final days.

We can all relate to this poignant situation.

Đi Bờ Đại Dương

Bi ct trắng Destin di mỏi mắt
Sng bạc đầu trước mặt cuốn triền min
Rặng thng buồn say gi đến vạn nin
Đn chim trắng nhỡn nhơ bay tm c

Ti ngồi đy một mnh nơi xa lạ
Nắng sau đồi chưa ấm cả tm cang
Người lao cng bận sắp ghế thnh hng
Bi biển vắng hồn hoang nghe muối xt

Nhớ Nha-Trang biển xưa chưa nắng tắt
Đn trẻ thơ đuổi bắt tiếng cười vang
Qun chiều hm đ đng cửa xếp bn
Ta lửng thửng tay trong tay dạo bước

Xa Hn Yến thuyền chi ai nhẹ lướt
Ngư phũ về đn lấp lnh sương chiều
Sng vang ầm tan vở mộng c liu
Đại dương đ đi bờ i cch biệt!

Ba mươi năm thời gian tri mi miết
Bận sinh tồn no biết nhớ hm qua
Biển sng nay đối diện chỉ mnh ta
Tnh qu cũ dạt do theo sng vỗ

Nha-Trang mến! đất lnh chim xy tổ
C tm đầy phường phố rộn người đi
Nắng mai hồng Cầu Đ nước trong khe
Hải Học Viện ai về cn lưu luyến

Truờng Hải Qun năm xưa nơi huấn luyện
Người trai hng hoa biển hẹn trng dương
Qun phục chng mầu trắng ct qu hương
Bn t o dễ thương chiều ma hạ

Cầu Xm Bng giăng ngang qua biển đ
Đỉnh Thp B cy cả rủ ru phong
Nước dừa tươi ngọt lịm Bi Hn Chồng
Biển Đồng Đế lặng trầm tm vẫn nhớ

Nhn sng dạt tro lng nghe bỡ ngỡ
Nước non tnh cch trở vạn trng dương
ng my hồng giăng kn một trời thương
Hồn c lữ bổng trn đầy xc cảm

A-La xứ phương ny dừng cuối trạm
Người lữ hnh tc xm ng hai mu
Triều đ dng gi cuốn sng ln cao
Đi bờ biển ngn đời phn cch mi


6 June 2002

Les deux rivages

Aux sables blancs de la plage de Destin infinie
En face des vagues écumeuses hurlant en colère,
Les grands pins tristes battus par le vent étourdi,
Les mouettes blanches font leur chasse solitaire.

Me voici tout seul dans cet endroit étranger
Aux collines que le soleil réchauffe à peine.
Le travailleur aménage les chaises en rangées
Sur la plage déserte et salée à l'haleine.

Ô Nha Trang ! par le soleil encor éclairé
Où les enfants faisaient leurs bruyantes gambades.
Quand les étalages au soir étaient fermés
Main en main nous prenions notre lente promenade.

À l'Île d'Hirondelles les pêcheurs rentraient au soir
À travers la brume que leurs lanternes éclairaient,
Fendant les vagues qui détruisaient nos rêves noirs
Au bord de cet océan qui nous séparait.

Trente longues années nous avons déjà vécu,
Oubliant le passé pour l'existence du jour.
Ce matin l'océan que maintes fois j'ai vu
Me rappellait le pays natal pour toujours.

Ô cher Nha Trang où les oiseaux faisaient leurs nids,
Et la ville tout animée pleine de fruits de mer,
Le ruisseau limpide sous le Pont de Pierre rempli,
L' Institut ocanographique qui nous est cher.

L'Ecole Navale qui pendant des ans forme
Les jeunes vaillants qui aiment la mer immense
Dont les plages blanches colorent les uniformes
Parmi les tuniques d'été graciles et charmantes.

Voici le pont Xom Bong au dessus des rochers,
Et le Temple Thap Ba de feuilles et mousse couvert,
De la plage Hon Chong le lait de coco miellé,
Et Dong De sereine que mon coeur a tant aimée.

Je contemple les vagues avec un coeur en peine
Pensant au pays lointain plein de nostalgie.
Les nuages sombres couvrent les cieux sans haine.
Voyageur solitaire, je souffre toute ma vie.

Alabama, tu es ma dernière étape.
Ce voyageur a vu ses cheveux grisonnants.
Marées et vents élevés violemment se frappent.
Adieu, mon vieux pays, le reste de mes ans.

Traduit par Thomas D. Le
27 Août 2002

The Two Ocean Sides

On Destin beach of infinite white sand,
The foam-crest waves roll endlessly ahead
While timeless wind-swept pine groves sadly stand,
And sea-birds fish for prey with their wings spread.

Here I was stranger in my solitude
Unwarmed by sun that bathed the hills behind.
The worker lined the chairs in rows where stood
The beach at dawn, forlorn and salty kind.

I longed for Nha Trang beach in warm sunshine
Where with loud laughs the kids played hide-and-seek
As all the food stands closed at day's end fine
We took our idle walk our cheek to cheek.

To Swallow Isle fishing boats glided home,
Lit up at dusk to guide the fishermen.
My dream was shattered by the thund'rous foam.
This ocean split us up from our kinsmen.

Three decades long, time endlessly flowed past;
Our daily life has blurred the days gone by.
This morning sea reminded me at last
Of our homeland to which we bid good-bye.

Dear gentle Nha Trang where the old birds nest,
Chock full of seafood in this bustling land,
Where Stony Bridge on the clear water rests,
And beloved Oceanography Institute stands.

The once proud Naval Academy where were trained
Valiant young men enamored of the vast ocean
Whose uniform the sand-white hue of dear old land
Mingled with summer tunics of young dames lissome.

The Xom Bong bridge that flies above the rocky sea,
On the heights moss-covered Thap Ba stands in the woods,
Hon Chong beach with coconut milk sweet as honey,
Lodged deep in my heart's the serene beach of Dong De.

The ocean swells engulfed my soul with grief
For our old land across thousands of miles.
And the dark clouds hid our nostalgia deep
To fill my heart with melancholic bile.

Alabama, thou art my own last stop,
This wayfarer has shown his silver hair.
The ocean waves and winds have reached their top.
Good-bye forever, my dear old land fair.

Translated by Thomas D. Le
13 August 2002


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