Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

14Jul/100

Khanh Ly – Ngu Di Con

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Sleep, My Child
Translated By: Gigi

Oh, please sleep. Sleep, my sweet child.
Mother's own child, with your skin of gold.
I'm soothing you to sleep, soothing your bullet wound dyed crimson.
For twenty years, a group of children became soldiers.
They left, but never returned, so did my golden-skinned child.
Sleep, my child.

I have sung a lullaby for you once, now twice already.
Oh, this body that was so small and frail long ago.
I carried you in my womb; I held you in my arms.
Oh, why must you sleep at the age of twenty?

Oh, please sleep. Sleep, my sweet child.
Mother's very own child emerged into this world,
On your lips echoed a sound of grief and pain.
For twenty years, that group of children matured.
Entering the battlefield, my golden-skinned child of antiquity.
Sleep, my child.

I have sung a lullaby for you once, now you lay into dust.
Oh, which injury was it that carved deeply into your warm skin?
Mother's own flesh and blood, that I have reared from dusk to dawn
Oh, why must you sleep at the age of twenty?

Oh, my child sleeps at the age of twenty.
Oh, why must you sleep at the age of twenty?
Oh, my child sleeps at the age of twenty.

Translator's Notes: At the beginning of the video, Khanh Ly discussed about the Viet Nam war. One particular comment caught my interest so I've decided to translate it to English:

"People can easily forget the feeling of happiness. However, when it comes to the feeling of sorrow and sadness, once it becomes a wound, even if it heals, it will leave a scar on the skin and in the hearts of the Vietnamese people."
— Khanh Ly

14Jul/100

Trinh Cong Son – Nguoi Con Gai Viet Nam

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Vietnamese Girl
Translated By: Gigi

Young Vietnamese girl, with skin of gold,
Who loved our homeland like the fields of grain,
Young Vietnamese girl, with skin of gold,
Who loved our homeland, as tears wet her cheeks.

Young Vietnamese girl, with skin of gold,
Who loved our homeland, its people, even the weak,
Who once sat there dreaming of peace,
Who's proud of our homeland like she is of her own being.

She's never known our homeland in peace.
She's never seen Viet Nam in the old days.
She's never sung the Vietnamese folk songs once.
She only possesses a resentful heart.

The young girl passed by the village one day,
Walking in the night, the sound of gunshots echoed,
She suddenly clutched her heart,
On her soft skin emerged a bleeding wound.

Young Vietnamese girl, with skin of gold,
Who loved our homeland like the fields of grain,
Young Vietnamese girl, with skin of gold,
Who loved our homeland that no longer exists.

Oh, the countless heartless deaths!
Oh, darkness befall our country for a thousand years.
Once, she visited our homeland alone.
And I still search for our homeland alone.

1Mar/101

Khanh Ly – Doa Hoa Vo Thuong

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Evanescent Blossom
Translated By: Gigi

I search for you, my dear, slender and frail
I search in the mountains, an ethereal flower
A fleeting smile, a delicate soul
Those fragrant lips, a blank page anew

I search for you, my dear, soothing my own heart
Searching for a night afresh, a pristine day
A flying bird in the flock, with a dewdrop in its mouth
I search on the riverbeds, for your slipper's imprints

I search for you near and far, within earth and heaven
I search within the rosy mist, within the ephemeral evening
Until the end of the waning moon, I shall not despair, my dear
Within impermanance, I search for a duo prayer, resounding thunder strikes

Then I suddenly found you standing by the primitive spring
I invited you home, night covered in pure rain
Your presence emanates, scent of incense in four corners
Within the garden, rain diminishes, joyful music begins
The golden moon greets the epiphyllum blossom

From now on, I have the one
You, who chatters and walks beside me on this world
From now on, I have love
You, my cherished one, beaming with words
Because of you, I am complete
In you I am, when you sit by the front porch

Winter brings you sorrow
At sunset, you sing prayers by the river
Winter withers, water rises
A budding love has flourished

From now on, I have my sweetheart
To the mountains and rivers, I offer my song
Spring passes over rooftops
There's a singing bird named Love

A rosy lotus bud, you sat by a time
A time when we both loved, a time of both joy and sorrow
From soaring sunrise, until tender nights
Rosy lotus of a time, you were rosy in your youth
Lonely lotus, you loved completely with grief

One evening you stood by the river
The autumn breeze tenderly blows
Carrying the words of prayer to the mountains
Your final loving confession

A time of love has passed
Your rosy steps want to leave
Leaving my entire world shattered
You must return to where you came from

Since then, in the midnight garden
Your dress of the past
Like a tiny fluff of ephemeral cloud
Swiftly drifting through my life

Since then, within my soul
A lamenting sound of the bell
The horse's neigh, deep in the forest
Resounding through earth and heaven

Since then, I sat dazed
Watching on a distant road
A carriage ride destined
To the scene of parting

Since then, I lay wounded
In the mountains, and in the passes
Faint impermanence follows
With each passing minute

Since then, the flower that is you
Of a deep rosy hue at dawn
Blossoms wholly at dusk to
Wait for the wind of impermanence

Since then, you are the mist
Falling freshly at sunrise
Since then, I am the night
That flourishes into an evanescent blossom.

24Feb/100

Khanh Ly – Diem Xua

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Diem of the Past
Translated By: Gigi

The rain still falls on the ancient temple
Your slender long arms, your pale eyes
Autumn leaves fall, the sound of soft footsteps
My eyes look to the distance, straining to see

The rain still falls on the piles of small leaves
In the afternoon I sit and gaze at the passing rain
Leaves silently fall upon your footsteps
Coldness suddenly invades my soul, leaving me shivering

The evening rain still falls, so why don't you come?
Memories in the midst of a buried pain
How can we have each other, marks of pain appear
I beg you to return soon

The rain still falls, life's like a boisterous sea
How do you remember the traces the migrating birds left behind?
Please let the rain pass over this vast region
So the wanderer can forget he's wandering

The rain still falls, life's like a boisterous sea
How do you know that a gravestone feels no pain?
Please let the rain pass over this vast region
Even the stones will need each other for the days to come.

Translator's Notes: Khanh Ly first sang this song in 1967 when she was 23 years old.

24Feb/102

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."

24Feb/100

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.

20Feb/102

Trinh Cong Son – Mot Coi Di Ve

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: A Place to Leave from and Return to
Translated By: Gigi

For many years I have wandered
Going around in circles, growing weary
On my shoulders the sun and the moon
Lighting a lifetime, a place to leave from and return to

What words are from trees, what words are from the grass
One afternoon of pleasure, one life that is light
A day passes
First spring decays, then summer withers as well
One early autumn, one hears horses returning
To a place far away

Clouds cover overhead and the sun hangs on shoulders
My footsteps walk away, the river stays behind
From the spirit of love comes a sudden calling
Within myself a human shadow appears

This rain I'm hearing reminds me of the rain long ago
It falls within me, one small drop after another
Years without end and never a reunion
One doesn't know which place is home

Roads twist around a circle of misery and sadness
On one side is budding grass, on the other dreams
Of the past
Each sunset's call is also from the grave
In the river stream one hears the call
Of the ocean

While I return I remember myself leaving
I climb the high mountains, cross the wide-open sea
My arms have not yet covered the span of the world
In the spring of life a desolate wind blows

Today I drink for life and stay up late
Tomorrow I regret the springtime I have lost.

20Feb/101

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.

2Jan/100

Quang Linh – Mua Thu Con Do

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Composer: Chau Ky
English Title: Autumn Still Lives On
Traslated By: Gigi

Oh, Autumn! I heard that you have passed on
Oh, Autumn! Are you still alive, or have you passed away?
Are you still alive? Are you still alive? Or have you died?
Autumn, please speak, please speak, just a few words
That Autumn lives on forever across the rivers and mountains
Autumn's lake, where the moon gazes at the water, still shines
Please don't say, please don't say that Autumn is dead!
No, Autumn lives on, you live on, forever and ever
Lost within Autumn's garden, where golden leaves scatter about
Lost within Autumn's forest, where the deers look on with grief
Autumn's figure of the past still hasn't faded, still hasn't faded
How can words express, how can words express
This grief, this misery, of waiting, when will it end?
Oh, Autumn, I loved your figure during that memorable year
Even if Autumn departs, the moon will continue to wait for you
Please don't say, please don't say that Autumn is dead!
No, Autumn lives on to continue casting her shadow on this world.

Translator's Notes: This song contains a pun that isn't very obvious in the English traslation. The word "thu" means "autumn" and it is also a common first name for women. So the author is referring to the autumn season but also to this woman named Thu.

2Jan/100

Thanh Tuyen – Nhat Ky Doi Toi

Composer: Thanh Son
English Title: Diary of My Life
Translated By: Gigi

Heading backwards in time, returning to the past, towards a bittersweet moment
So many memories, so much love, nothing's left but the figure zero
Who was it that loved? Who was it that forgot?
Within the span of a lifetime, the answer lies in the future

That one year, we observed the cherry blossoms falling during Spring
Worried about my fate, fearing that this love would become like a flower
Budded too early only to wither at night, who hasn't experienced this once?
Encountered each other, loved each other, and then we parted ways

So that's it, there's nothing more, the past is like poetry
Poetry accompanied by music, a love song is born
So that's it, there's nothing more
Hopes and dreams are bountiful presently
When can one love again in this lifetime?

We never finished saying our words of goodbye the day we parted
Five years of separation, five years of waiting, until love withered away
Sorrow fills every time it's mentioned, that love divided into two roads
Diary of my life now inscribes another memory of love and loss.