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Truong Vu – Han Mac Tu

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The Story of Han Mac Tu
Han Mac Tu was a famous and talented Vietnamese poet. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 28 due to leprosy. He was born in a poor family and his father died when he was young. He wrote many love poems during his lifetime, and a lot of his poems depicted his love affairs with many women, some he met and some he only knew by name. One of the women featured in his poetry is Mong Cam, who is his lover. He loved her a lot. However, they couldn't be together because of his social status, and his struggle with leprosy. Mong Cam was later forced by her family to marry someone else while Mac Tu returned to Quy Nhon and died there.

Composer: Tran Thien Thanh
English Title: Han Mac Tu
Translated by: Gigi

Poem: (0)
Anyone wants to buy the moon? I will sell it to you.
The moon nestles quietly on the willow branch waiting.
Anyone wants to buy the moon? I will sell it to you.
Rather, I'm selling a destined love in hopes of a promise. (1)

The road up the rocky slope, in the middle of the night,
under the waning moon, reminiscing the story from long ago.
That Prince Pavilion, where the footsteps of Han Mac Tu once treaded by.
The moon's image suspends, tilting a little.
The vast seashore of sand seems more deserted.
The bird's voice cries out in pain,
as though it's about to break under the sky's mist.
Leaves drop, drop towards where?
Why are thoughts appearing of his footsteps
finding its place under a melancholic night?

The road up the rocky slope,
reminiscing how the couple have arrived here once.
A love that just budded.
Feeling sympathy towards him, his life as a disabled person.
Regretting, in his place, for his being,
a man who hasn't experienced even half of his lifetime.
Blaming, in his place, towards a thread of fate
that wasn't colored warm before suddenly dissolving.
This soul madly swaying in grief, causing Heaven and Earth
to also mourn for him, but the pain is his own.

Han Mac Tu escaped back to his old homeland,
hiding himself in a deserted house.
"Oh, Mong Cam, don't feel regret anymore.
It'd only make us both sad. (2)
Our love is over. Please, just this promise.
We'll be together in the next lifetime.
What is left now? This wilted body.
Please let me be, let me be alone."

Searching within the depths of loneliness
The thin soil in Quy Nhon greeted his footsteps.
People back then all knew about that one old place where the roads
were filled with wedding firecrackers tied in knots with flowers.
In the distant, deserted home,
Han silently listened to the moon shattering.
Pitying his desolated self, until came that one evening.
Heaven and Earth, as though spinning in madness,
when a soul detached, soaring up high.
What's left of Mac Tu now?

The golden, pearl moon, the moon of love hasn't filled to its heart's content. (3)
I gaze at the moon, with pity and compassion tightening around the moon.

Translation Notes
(0) This part here is from one of Han Mac Tu's poems.
(1) The word here is "hen ho" which means to make a date with. But in this sense, Mac Tu is not looking for someone to date. He's looking for a soul mate, an everlasting love (that's tied by fate), therefore, "promise" sounds better.
(2) The phrase here "tui cho nhau ma thoi" and it was a bit hard to translate this. I managed to go with a similar English saying.
(3) The verb here is "phi" and for just one word, it means a a lot in English. This verb means "to eat/fill to one's hearts content." This phrase here, if the moon represents Han Mac Tu's love, means that Han Mac Tu's love hasn't been fulfilled completely. After all, Mong Cam married someone else.

Comments (5) Trackbacks (0)
  1. I love this song and your translation is perfect. The Vietnamese lyric was difficult to understand, since my Vietnamese is limited, but your translation has helped me understanding the song better. Thanks.

  2. I like Han Mac Tu and this song.

  3. Thanks for the translation. I love this site, it gives me a way to learn a lot about Vietnamese culture.

  4. I’ve been looking for this translation for a while.
    Thank you for all your effort in this:)

  5. I didnt think this song would ever be translated so well. Kudos to whoever did it.

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