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Khanh Ly – Nhu Canh Vac Bay

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Like the Wings of a Flying Crane
Translated By: Gigi

Is the sun as crimson as your lips?
Is the rain as sorrowful as your eyes?
Your hair of tiny strands
Falling upon this world to form ripples

The wind will rejoice at your hair swaying
Causing the soft clouds to rest upon your shoulders
Your shoulders so thin and slender
Like the wings of a crane flying towards the distance

Is the sun still jealous of your lips?
Is the rain still sad within your crystal eyes?
Ever since I accompanied you home
I knew we would be apart forever

The spring greets each of your passing steps
Leaves serenade from your fragrant hands
Leaves wither because they're waiting
Just like life is forever gloomy

Is the day joyful where you're returning to?
Is the sky blue where you're returning to?
I listen to the sound of a thousand tears
Falling, transforming into a luminous lake.

Translator's Note: At the beginning of the video, Khanh Ly discussed about her meeting with Trinh Cong Son in 1967 where he showed her the song "Nhu Canh Vac Bay." He told her of a beautiful memory he had while he was in Da Lat. He and another young lady, her identity unknown, were taking a walk in the forest and stopped by a small spring. He rested by a tree and he watched her walk beside the spring. He continued to watch her as the golden sunlight shone on her slender hair and across her entire body. The wind was blowing causing her hair and her dress to flutter aimlessly in the wind. He cherished that beautiful memory and thus, wrote the song "Nhu Canh Vac Bay."


Khanh Ly – Nhu Mot Loi Chia Tay

Composer: Trinh Cong Song
English Title: Like Words of Farewell
Translated By: Gigi

All my rendezvous now ended
I'm as light as a cloud
A speck of sunlight has just hurried off
Closing each joyful night

Familiar streets wait from morning to evening
For footsteps from the olden days that pass uncertain
How can you know each private life
Just to love more and with more passion?

A rose from the past falls again
Beside my life
A bit of love leaves like a swift breeze
I suddenly recognize myself

I want one moment to thank life
That's given me some passion
At times I lie down and hear laughter
But it was just a dream

Love's like light that dissipates at sunset
Love's not far but not really near
Love's like a rock full of endless longing
Love's indefinite, so why am I sad and worried?

I remember the whispering each night
Seems like it was only drunkenness now
Delicate golden flowers at the edge of the sky
Like words of farewell.


Khanh Ly – Dem Thay Ta La Thac Do

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: At Night I Feel Like a Waterfall
Translated By: Gigi

One night, footsteps return to the small gates
Rosa flowers suddenly came to mind
Hands that clutched the flower from the cities
Already forgetting the garden from which it came
Walking past a strange city one fine day
The city has left for its afternoon nap
Sometimes my existence is similar to grasses and leaves
Sitting and singing freely without worry
Often I'm like a youth who misses home
From other towns I return
Days of spring brought forth your quiet footsteps
When did spring suddenly come to an end?
Many nights I envision myself like a waterfall
Even wide awake, I can still feel it sometimes

One day, footsteps return to the marketplace
I suddenly feel happy like an innocent child
My existence is sometimes like a blaze of fire
That gather within the garden at midnight
A flower has just bloomed in this midnight garden
Who was it that walked into my life?
Often I see a hundred thousand grave-mounds
Beside the crystal-clear lake I've often rested
My existence no longer contributes anything new
I have lived my life in such an indifferent way
There are times my heart closes its doors
And beside a wound I kneel down
Because you have given me your words of prayer
Then left me behind standing on this world.

Translator's Note: Trinh Cong Son's songs are metaphysical and only the composer himself will truly understand the meaning of his songs. I hope that I've managed to capture, somewhat, the meaning of the song with the translation.


Khanh Ly – Cat Bui

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Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Sand and Dust
Translated by: Gigi

Which speck of dust transformed into my figure?
So that this body can rise up tomorrow
Oh, the brilliant grains of sand and dust
Rays of sunlight illuminate upon this wandering life

Which speck of dust transformed into my figure?
So that I can return and become like dust one day
Oh, the weary particles of sand and dust
What was that drumming sound that ceases to subside?

The many years I've lived as a human being
Until one evening my hair dyed gray like lime
Leaves withered on branches, dropping to the ground
After a hundred years of living we die in one day

Which rays of sunlight shone within my heart?
Causing the love I built to chisel into a piece of pebble
Allow me to cover my face while I'm on the verge of tears
Every dreary day passes by while I await good news

Which grove of forests contain ragged trees and leaves?
From the abyss I hear a voice awakening me from my slumber
Oh, the grains of sand and dust of this lifetime
Which mark of ink can disappear without a trace...?


Khanh Ly- Hat Cho Nguoi Nam Xuong

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: A Serenade for the Dead
Translated By: Mikki

Here you lay to rest after you once passed by
You used to revel in this life
You used to fly high in the flush sky
Then you lay to rest, no friends, no one
No one, everyday; there's no one for eternity
To lullaby you to a deep sleep,
Rain seasons came through this cementery only to bring birds!

You lay to rest and let hatred fall into oblivion
Sent each other off on a sad day
The land embraced, escorted you to return to your origin
From that day, in the vast sky is missing you
Like the bird's wings forsook the forest,
Like the heart forsook love
In this place once,
Seeing your arrival, my sorrows were resigned to speak in vain!

Your friends are still here, do you know that?
Your lover is still here, do you miss her?
The garden is still green, the sun is still rising
When your shadow, like a bird's wings, descended.

Which region of sky you have already flown through?
What still remains here are these infinite mornings
A lover then became forgotten, friends became separated
Oh the months and years, many human footprints also faded to dust.

You lay to rest, like that voyage once
A child from the past has found his way back home
The deserted land sealed off with the promise to return
People in the city, in one day, already recalled your name
Some tomorrow mornings, in war
Many bloody corpses will appear
I plead for that person who just lay to rest
To see the reflection of heaven at the end of the boundless sky.


Khanh Ly- Ha Trang

Composer: Trinh Cong Song
English Title: White Summer
Translated By: Mikki

Call forth sunlight!
On your slim shoulder
A shirt flutters on a distant road

Sunlight passed by sorrowful eyes
The soul filled with intoxicated happiness
The path where you return
Enclosed by cloudless sky
The traveled road through seasons
Illuminated by sunlight

Call forth sunlight!

To fill the evening's dream
With fluttering white flowers
So your arms will be elongated
Further soften tomorrow's sun
Your returned footsteps
Which I failed to notice
Call the sunlight's name so that
It will fade on the long river

No more, will I plead for life's favors
In this illusion
Call autumn to arrive
I escorted you to return
Your feet lightly stepped
Melancholy sky, high winds

I asked for us to be together
For always
Sunlight will not call on sadness
Even if the familiar shirt wrinkles
I ask that in our old age
We'll continue to call each other's name

Call forth sunlight!
To pin your hair
With the falling light flowers

Sunlight escorted you home
To the high region; gushing winds
Now, your shirt is
Blurred at a far distance
I will always call your name
For the rest of this dream...

Translator's Note: This is one of the harder to translate from Vietnamese to English songs of Trinh Cong Son since it has many symbolism and metaphors that only the composer himself would truly understand. Thus, instead of focusing most of my time translating the lyrics words for words I focused on trying to deliver the overall message of this song. Overall, this song is about a man who still hold feelings for his past love.


Khanh Ly & Bang Kieu – LK Dau Tinh Sau & Le Da

This is a translation of "Dau Tinh Sau" which is the song at the beginning. The second song "Le Da" (literally translates as Tears of a Rock) will be translated later.

Composer: Ngo Thuy Mien
English Title: Imprint of a Sorrowful Love
Translated By: Gigi

Sunlight still radiates during the evening, letting the wind begin its search
For the trail of your footprints that have passed by many times before
Lyrics from a song emitting from sorrowful fingers
Leaving behind a frozen soul for a thousand years
Fragile years of age still ardent within the colors of those eyes

Violet clouds still present in the skies, letting the leaves daydream
Leaves weep upon those eyelashes causing sorrow to seep into those lips
Evening spreads to the mountaintops over our heads
Dulling this love causing those heels to bring forth sadness
Please let the feelings of resentment cover these streets

Music emits from the guitar, concealing the sorrowful years of age
Deserted streets, allowing leaves to return to their roots
To the person who's searching, please evoke these feelings of resentment
Ever since the wind carried the imprints of the earth
The road up the rocky slopes shrouding the marks of passion
Do you still remember or have you forgotten your words?

And so you have come to search for that mesmerizing voice
Those footprints of the past have now been buried in silence
The rows of trees dream of the shadow that appeared on those streets
I beckon out to you once the sunlight has faded
I call forth for love to plummet into oblivion.


Khanh Ly – Ru Ta Ngam Ngui

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Silently Singing Myself to Sleep
Translated by: Gigi

Whose lips are still fragrant? Let me bask my love there.
Whose hair is still bright? Let me feel a bit of its naturalness.
Whose heart still possesses peace? I divulge in my life.
Please call out my name.

When love has flown away, the heart wallows in deserted streets.
On top of every drop of blood, a bird stands in silence.
When returning amidst winter, hands reach out belatedly.
I'll just wait for dawn to come.

Please wait for dawn to come. Why is life so quiet and empty?
Like harvested rice fields, like deserted forests and mountains.
Someone returns to look at his shadow rested on a silent, white wall.

Which streets are cheerful? Let me pass by there one day.
Which strands of hair float within tiny pieces of memories?
There's nothing. There's no one left. I drift within life.
I'm not waiting. I'm not waiting for anybody.

Return to where you came from. I'll wander for the rest of my life.
If there are still incense left, I'll burn them completely this evening.
Please let me rest within a cradle. I silently sing myself to sleep.
Please let me sleep under arches of trees.


Khanh Ly – Bai Ca Danh Cho Nhung Xac Nguoi

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In remembrance of the victims of the Hue Massacre - 1968
"Because of who that children mourn over their parents while wives mourn over their husbands?"

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: A Ballad for the Dead
Translated By: Gigi

Dead bodies float along the river
They lie in the rice fields, soaked in sunlight
On the rooftops of the city
On the winding, tortuous streets

Dead bodies lying around aimlessly
Beneath the verandas of pagodas
Within the churches of the city
At the doorstep of deserted houses

Oh, Spring, the corpses deliver a scent to the rice paddies
Oh, Vietnam, the corpses breathe life into tomorrow's soil
The path forward, though full of treacherous obstacles
Because humans have already resided here

Dead bodies lying around here
Beneath the cold, pattering rain
Beside the dead bodies of the old and weak
Lie the dead bodies of the young and innocent

Which body is the body of my sibling?
Within this dark cave
Within the scorched areas
Beside the maize and sweet potato fields.

Translator's Note: The Hue Massacre was committed by the North Vietnamese Communists in 1968. The Viet Cong invaded the city on the night marking the new lunar year, and after this offensive, it is estimated that 5800 Hue civilians were killed. Trinh Cong Son, a native of Hue, wrote this song in remembrance of the victims.


Khanh Ly – Bien Nho

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: A Sea's Yearning
Translated By: Gigi

Tomorrow you will depart
The sea will be howling your name, beckoning you to return
However, only the trailing willow trees will listen
And only the empty banks of sand will respond

Tomorrow you will depart
The hills will lean slightly, and wait
Pebbles will anticipate for you every hour
As the sound of each of your desolate footsteps echoes

Tomorrow you will depart
The sea will beckon you to return to your roots
Calling forth ocean and winds, submerging your soul
My hands will shield you from the sprinkling of cold rain

Tomorrow you will depart
A city at midnight with amber lights
A lone soul, shoulders hunched back, calling forth sadness
Strong waves crashing outside, my sadness deepens

Someday you will return
My hands will extend toward the open pathway
Melodies will resound into a musical concert
Loneliness will be no more

Tomorrow you will depart
The sea will be howling your name, beckoning you to return
Drops of dew soak the dreamscape
An infinite sky clings to the towering mountains

Tomorrow you will depart
Moss-grown dunes droops down in the sadness
Streetlights grieve amidst cold rain
As clouds completely cover the sky outside

Tomorrow you will depart
Will the sea whisper your name, dazed in grief?
Through rainy days and dried months, I still mourn
My hands long for letters containing news of you

Tomorrow you will depart
A city at midnight with amber lights
Spring's shadow has already passed halfway, hesitantly
Lamenting at the whistling of the rising wind.