Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

20Feb/081

Ha Phuong & Huong Thuy – Em Di Tren Co Non

Composer: Bac Son
English Title: I Walk Upon the Green Grass
Translated By: Gigi

I walk upon the growing, green grass that's hugging the road beside the river shore
I cover my face by tilting my palm-leaf hat as my feet shuffle across the bamboo bridge
My home is located on the outskirts of the citadel: a village of cottage houses
I tread across many rivers and overcome many mountain passes
Even if I have to climb many hills as high as many mountains, I still visit my homeland

I forgot the names of the claws-shaped vegetables growing at the edge of the veranda
But I cannot forget the coconut trees where water droplets drip from during rain
My father took me to school toward the faraway school building
My feet were still small that I was scared they would become muddy,
So my father knelt down and picked me up saying, "I'll give you a horseback ride."

Gray, smoke-gray like the bottom of clouds, so I asked, "Is it the mist of clouds?"
White, a dress so white, who was it that walked so hurriedly, that innocent figure?

A ray of sunlight dying the village golden
A gust of wind blows causing a white pomelo flower to drop
I just felt something like compassion
It passed through a worn road that I haven't acquainted with

I haven't walked upon the green grass nor felt the cool feeling underneath my feet
I haven't walked across parts of the river nor had the chance to see sceneries yesterday
I haven't loved outside of the citadel, not until I can hear my heart beating fast
The time my parents met was loving similar to how the rice fields awaited for alluvium.

Translator's Notes: The song is written in first-person form, and this Vietnamese first-person noun would typically indicate a girl is the narrator. This is one of the many traditional Vietnamese songs, it falls under "Dan Ca" and the theme is one's homeland. Dan Ca songs are usually sung by female singers.

(1) The composer mentioned "voi vin" in 3rd to last line and it's something that's a little hard to translate into English, in the sense that it can't be put into two words or less. What it is, is a part of the river where there's a patch of land (looks like a small island) and it would curl out like an elephant's trunk. And water around that patch of land would also swirl around like an elephant's trunk. I guess a part worth noting is that the word "voi" in "voi vin" means elephant by itself. So I just translated it as scenery.

(2) Last line refers to how every season, alluvium (water sediments) would wash ashore from the stream and this would nurture the rice fields. The rice fields do depend on this kind of dirt to nourish it. So the composer uses this as a metaphor, comparing the fondness of time the parents met to the fondness the rice fields have for the alluvium.

In the middle of the song, the two singers go into a "cai luong" that was not part of the original lyrics. It's still something to enjoy nonetheless. I did not translate the "cai luong" part though.

16Feb/085

Nhu Quynh – Con Thuong Rau Dang Moc Sau He

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Composer: Bac Son
English Title: I Still Love Those Bitter Vegetables Growing After Summer
Translated By: Gigi

The summer sun departs.
Clouds wander aimlessly causing summer to sadden.
Within that region, the fields burn,
while birds silently miss the leaves and forest.

Who could know that mother was happy or sad when
she called uncle over closer to her, and told him to sit,
just so she could pluck the roots of his hair. (1)
Both of them had gray hair like each other.

Uncle's eyes were sorrowful.
Those first days of summer where we freely ran and played,
While father mended a piece of coconut
so that it'll soften, through dried sun and soaking rain.

Anyone who's faraway from his roots will sit by himself,
And he'll miss every stem of green bamboo growing everywhere,
as well as miss that area of the sky of memories.
And, he'll long for the taste of bitter vegetables cooked with soup. (2)

Please let me be a cloud that flies across the entire world.
I'll visit my homeland which separated from me the moment I left.
Please let me be the wind gently carrying the tune of a folk-song.
The broken fruit behind the house is still sweet,
sweet like the words we have for each other.

Please let me relive that simple love,
Freely running and playing in those first days of summer,
While father mended a piece of coconut
so that it'll soften, through dried sun and soaking rain.

I ask that from the summer sun of my home.
I sit and miss every stem of green bamboo growing everywhere,
as well as miss that area of the sky of memories.
And I long for the taste of bitter vegetables cooked with soup.

Translator's Notes: This song was quite challenging to translate, but I tried my best to at least get the meaning across. I translated from the actual lyrics; the singer altered a few parts of it when singing. This song is about culture and family, particularly the rural regions in Southern Vietnam. The composer simply wishes to return to those simple days, and although it wasn't luxurious, it was filled with the warmth of family. Everything mentioned in this song is related to the Vietnamese culture.

(1) This part is referring to how in Vietnamese families, one family member would pluck out the other family member's gray hair. For example, a daughter plucking her mother's gray hair. It just shows how tight-knit Vietnamese families tend to be, and that is rooted in the culture. Vietnamese families are extended families and it's normal to find three generations (grandma, mother, daughter) living in the same household. The next part mentions how both the mother and uncle had gray hair. And well, even though they both have so many gray hairs that it would be pointless to pluck them, but the mother still does anyway. That symbolizes their closeness.

(2) This is a typical Southern Vietnamese dish. It's a simple dish but it's almost always included in every meal.

11Feb/080

Minh Tuyet – Di Ve Noi Xa

Composer: Le Quang
English Title: Treading Towards a Distant Land
Translated By: Gigi

In the shadows of the night I return holding a lonely love
Not knowing where you are headed this summer
My dear, where are you headed this winter?
Those old poems I've written... for you is now left with sorrow
Those old poems I've written... for you is now left with pain

Holding onto an endless cold, I search for that long-lost love
Autumn leaves fall, swaying towards somewhere
I thought that you had returned this winter...
The river stream from the old days continue to drift...
There's only the feeling of waiting left within me
I call for you through sadness: "My dear, are you returning here?"

I searched but couldn't see... your footsteps around here
That river stream continues to flow; I'm still sitting here in loneliness
And you have left without ever turning back
While I'm still frozen for years, treading towards a distant land.

11Feb/080

Minh Tuyet & The Son – Vi Ngot Doi Moi

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Composer: Tung Chau & Le Huu Ha
English Title: The Sweet Taste of Your Lips
Translated By: Gigi

When it comes to love, how do we know that someone is always loyal?
When it comes to love, how do we know that someone is always lying?
Please just love, don't worry about anything
Our hearts will find its own path and walk pass the lies

I watch you smiling cheerfully, the depth of your eyes are gentle
I watch you as though you are a lovely, bright, and twinkling sky
I wanted to say something, but why do I need to say anything?
Let's listen to our hearts singing words of love devoted to one person

When time feels as though it's stopped, that warm kiss left me crazed
In between passionate breaths, I desire for the sweet taste of your lips
Even if our lives would change, this heart will only speak one word
Even if I was to suffer a thousand times, I will love only you.

11Feb/080

Minh Tuyet & Duong Trieu Vu – Tron Kiep Binh Yen

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Composer: Dang Anh
English Title: An Entire Life of Peace
Translated By: Gigi

Love arrived as light as a piece of dream
Love plainly arrived into my heart by lines of poetry
Hey, love, even if there are storms on the open sea
Let us hold our hands and pray for peace forever

Tomorrow, strong storms will arrive
Tomorrow, wind and rain will blindly cover
Tomorrow, we'll have a new sun
Tomorrow, there will be shadows in our life
No one could ever predict what kind of place we'll drift to tomorrow
I pray that we'll both have a complete peace

Love arrived in a way that no one could expect
Love handed us passion as well as warmth and bitterness
The day that love arrived
The day that I lost that peace
Every night I worry fearing the words of farewell

I pray that we'll love each other completely in this entire life
And that we'll have an entire life of peace
I pray that your tomorrows are completely filled with peace.

9Feb/081

Truong Vu – Yeu Nguoi Chung Vach MV

Composer: Vinh Su
English Title: Loving Someone Who Shares the Same Wall (1)
Translated By: Gigi

Her house shares the same wall with my house
Both of us shared one corner of the sky
One winter morning, the sound of firecrackers echoed
She married her husband, while I'm all alone

Our houses share the same wall, but
Why does my love seem so far away?
Is it because I'm poor and empty-handed?
Or is it because we're not meant to be?
Or is it because our red threads have yet to be connected?
That's why we could never be together.

Our houses share the same wall, but
Why does my love seem unrequited?
It's probably because I love in silence
Or it's because I'm so ugly
That's why she pretended not to see
Even when I presented to her my entire heart

One winter morning, there were cars and red firecrackers
They all welcomed her on her wedding day
The wall became sad and cold, as though it was lime (2)
I loved her without the chance to confess
We might share the same wall, but that was it

Our houses share the same wall, but
Why do we have to bid farewell to each other?
What is there to resent? What should I say now?
My entire life is lonely; I hear waves crash within my heart
So the Mynah bird became sad and crossed the river. (3)

Translator's Notes
(1) Okay, the title sounds a bit weird because there's no such thing in the US. But in Vietnam, this occurs often where two houses are built next to each other and these two houses share the same wall. So, they are two separate houses, they just happen to share the same wall.
(2) Lime is the chemical lime, not the fruit.
(3) I noted this in past with other songs so I'll make it short. The Mynah bird is a Vietnamese symbolism and in this case, it represents the girl that the guy loves. "Crossing the river" is a Vietnamese metaphor for "getting married" and it is only used for women who get married. And in the video, it just so happens that the girl crossed a river by bridge during her wedding.

9Feb/082

Hoang Oanh – Chieu Tay Do

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Composer: Lam Phuong
English Title: Evening in the Western Capital (1)
Translated By: Gigi

One night, I dreamed us quietly returning together
We visited our homeland and the garden of areca nuts
My hand guided yours as we walked on the dried grass
We walked through the quiet evening in the Western Capital

The beautiful river, the long dress flowing elegantly
But how come I didn’t see us visiting Ninh Kieu?
I think I felt life heavily laden with the color black
As black as an unaccustomed piece of clothing

We asked the grasses and trees, they wept and the wind howled
Ever since we lost our home, the wind carried people across oceans (2)
Mothers waiting for letters, silently craving for a piece of betel
Children wandering the streets for many days because of hunger
Wives waiting for news of their husbands, the days seemed so far away (3)
Those years of liberation were like that, weren’t they? (4)

Back then, we were familiar with each part of our school courtyard
Now, why does everything seem different from the names of the streets?
The ship that carried me away will carry me back home
The Western Capital will relive its lovely days again.

Translator's Notes
(1) Tay Do means Western Capital, and is the old name of the city of Can Tho. It is now old terminology that isn't used in everyday language.
(2) This part refers to the refugees that fled Vietnam by boat, also known as "boat people."
(3) The wives here are the wives of South Vietnamese officers who were sent to re-education camps after the Vietnam war. The day that their husbands could return was very far away indeed.
(4) This question is mocking the so-called "liberation" that the North Vietnamese army vowed they would achieve when they invaded the South. It is making an irony out of the word "liberation" because it is a word connected to "freedom" but "freedom" were not what the Vietnamese citizens experienced after the Fall of Saigon in 1975. It was the exact opposite.

8Feb/086

Manh Dinh – Chuyen Gian Thien Ly

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Composer: Anh Bang
Poet/Lyricist: Yen Thao
English Title: Story of the Telosma Flower
Translated By: Gigi

I stand on this side of the river, on the other side are smoke and flames.
Here is my village, after many years of a devastating war,
Even sorrow inflicts upon each bamboo stem.
I have a loving wife, beautiful like the 16th moon, (1)
We married, but reluctantly have to be apart from one another.

I miss her soft lips, as beautiful as the color of sunlight.
Her rosy cheeks glistened with the scent of budding rice fields.
Who does not dread the idea of leaving one's home?
To leave the person one loves, who can easily feel the least bit happy?

She watched me with her eyes drowned in tears.
I walked away heavily but I can hear my soul weep.
Hey, soldier of war, my comrade in artillery,
My mother, with mist-colored hair, hears the sound of war each night.

Be careful of where you aim, or it might accidentally land on my home (2)
My house is located at the bottom of the hills,
That's where Telosma grows, and where the person I love lives.

Translator's Notes
(1)In the song, "trang muoi sau" (16th moon) means a round moon. The moon is a perfect circle on the 16th, which is the most beautiful shape. Therefore, the author emphasized how beautiful his wife is. Just like the moon when it is in its best shape. Other meaning of the 16th moon normally describes a girl in the teen. Typically when she is 16 years old. Or they can say "trang tron le mot" meaning round moon and one. That would describes a girl who is 17. Thank you Hoang Minh Dung his input.

(2) This part here uses what can be considered a "common language" between South Vietnamese soldiers, especially those in artillery. It uses the verb "rot" (to pour) but it actually means "to aim." And what might "accidentally land on my home?" That is the shot, shell, bullet, though it's not mentioned but it's assumed that the listener knows what 'it' is. This part is the part that gets 'lost in translation.' It sounds much nicer in Vietnamese, has a nice feeling to it, and it is something former S. Vietnamese soldiers can relate to. The English translation actually loses that feeling but I want to mention it so non-Vietnamese speakers can have a feel for it.

8Feb/080

Nhu Quynh – Chuyen Hoa Sim

Composer: Anh Bang
Poet/Lyricist: Huu Loan
English Title: Story of the Violet Myrtle
Translated By: Gigi

The prettiest thing in a wild forest is a violet-colored flower
The love story I love the most is the story of the violet myrtle
There was a girl whose spring has just budded
Her hair was still short, not covering her shoulders completely

Back then, she always loved the color violet
Every evening, she would climb the hills of violet myrtles
Where she stood watching the never-ending rows of violet myrtles
As she missed her husband, a soldier in a faraway region

Oh, to marry a soldier, to marry during war,
Only a few of those that left could ever return
As I fear that if I leave forever, and if I might not return
I feel that I love my wife waiting at home for me more
But the person that died was not the soldier amidst flames
It was the girl at home that died
It was the girl I love so much that died.

I am a soldier stationed across jungles and mountains
Where I encounter the hills of violet myrtles everyday
I stare at the blooming myrtles, loving them so much
And I regret that the girl is no longer here

Why does she always love the color violet?
That sad color is in utter disarray, right, my dear?
As the evening mist colors the surroundings in violet
I weep by myself at the story of the violet myrtle.

8Feb/081

Dang The Luan – Nguoi Thuong Binh

Composer: Anh Bang
Poet: Thai Tu Ha
English Title: The Wounded Soldier
Translated By: Gigi

How many evenings did I drink wine until my lips soften?
I only saw the river stream reddening the sky.
I only realized that my heart continued to be rained on.
Sorrowful waves crashed; a piece of my soul drifted.

Just leave, my friend! Please don't become attached.
As a wounded soldier, I've become accustomed to living miserably.
Like a fierce animal confining itself in a small city,
I set fire to my entire life, so twisted and painful.

Many times beside the river, I mirrored my face,
I briefly remembered that cloudy sky over the Chu Phong summit.
An Loc, Khe Sanh, Lao Bao mountain pass.
Life and death, I treated them lightly as if they're nothing.

I shared with the grasses and trees my innermost feelings.
The entire world seemed to have forgotten about me.
I'm drinking wine beside the river stream of shame.
Out of sadness, I sing the old national anthem by myself. (1)

Translator's Notes: For those who don't know, this song is sung from the perspective of a wounded veteran of the South Vietnamese army (VNCH) after the Vietnam War. After the Vietnam War, wounded soldiers of the South Vietnamese army were evicted from the hospital they stayed at, some with open wounds, and others who haven't been treated yet. All were evicted and treated by the communist Vietnamese government as though they do not exist. They were refused jobs, and were not offered any place in society because of their previous service to VNCH in the war. Although it is a Vietnamese song, I think that the emotions depicted in this song can be understood by anyone and everyone.

(1) The 'old national anthem' refers to South Vietnam's (Republic of Vietnam) national anthem from 1956 to 1975 titled 'Tieng Goi Cong Dan' (more info here).