Printemps
Poem by Jacques Nguyen Hieu Liem

Introduced by Thomas D. Le

Few can stay calm when nature springs back to life after the long bleak winter cold that breeds melancholy and glum. Buds appear and leaves begin to clothe the naked branches with an explosion of luxuriant green. It is hard when the departure of winter heralds the return of nature in its splendor and glory to ignore the excitement and joy building all around, inviting everyone to be outgoing.

Liem seems to be reserved, a bit subdued and dreamy. Instead of getting out among blooming garden plants to hear the birds, he sits by his window, dreaming and writing poems, even dozing off. His heart brims with all kinds of confused feelings that he does not care to sort out. In his solitary retreat of sorts, he tries to console himself by exhorting his heart to join in the celebration of nature's rebirth.

But lurking not too far below the surface, love is still missing in the merry landscape and the unfolding gaiety has yet to reach behind the blue window where he stays holed up in self-exile.

While his exhortations sound genuine, they bear the mark of restraint and not of spontaneous abandon. He urges his heart to jump with elation, but he doesn't. He wants his heart to soar, but he does not appear ebullient and light-hearted enough to soar with it.

Somehow this poem conveys a sense of nostalgia, resignation and loneliness. Liem could not quite reconcile the seizing of the moment that he advocates and a vague pervasive anxiety that prohibits unfettered rejoicing.

Printemps

Assis sur le bleu rebord de ma fenêtre
Souriant aux rayons du soleil qui pénètre,
Je sommeille et je rêve, je pense, j'écris des vers,
Le coeur sous l'emprise de sentiments divers,
Devant la beauté infinie de la nature
Qui s'éveille et sourit aux êtres, aux créatures,
Les bourgeons éclatant, les feuillages naissant,
La nature entière après l'hiver renaissant.
Chante ta joie, crie, hurle, tressaille d'allégresse
Oh ! Mon Coeur ! Réjouis-toi donc devant les promesses
De la nature en fleurs ! Aime, pendant qu'il est temps
Le charme éblouissant, la caresse du Printemps !

Jacques Nguyen Hieu Liem
26 Mars 2002

Xuân

Ngô`i bên bò' cu'?a sô? so'n xanh mát
Tôi mi?m cu'o'`i ðón ánh na'ng ban so'
Mù'ng xuân ðem tìm hú'ng viê't vâ`n tho'
Tim tha'm ðu'o'.m hô`n xuân nghe pho'i phó'i.

Tru'ó'c ca?nh ðe.p thiên nhiên vù'a ðô?i mó'i
Ti?nh giâ'c nô`ng vu~ tru. ðón xuân sang
Hoa lá non ðua no'? ma.ch tràn dâng
Ðông vù'a dú't bâ`u trò`i bù'ng sô'ng dâ.y.

Nào hãy múa, hát ca ðâ`y hoan hi?
Trái tim nâ`y hãy hu'o'?ng tro.n lò'i nguyê`n
Hãy yêu ði thò'i hoa no'? thiên nhiên
Tình xuân mó'i ðe.p nô`ng nàn mo'n tró'n.

Traduit par Lý Lãng Nhân
29 Août 2002

Spring

I sat by my blue window this morning,
To smile at yonder sun's all-piercing rays,
Sleeping, dreaming, thinking, versifying,
My heart filled with all feelings of the days.

Before the world's beauty vast and alive
That wakes up and smiles at the earth's rebirth
Buds that come forth and leaves that spring to life
With winter gone nature explodes with mirth.

Sing and shout with joy, and jump with happiness.
O heart! Adore the blissful loving arm
Of blooming nature. Love, now never less,
Enjoy the spring's caress and dazzling charm.

Translated by Thomas D. Le
17 August 2002


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