Eversky.org A Dose of Asian Pop Culture & Entertainment

16Jul/100

Khanh Ly – Ngay Dai Tren Que Huong

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Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: A Long Day in Motherland
Translated By: Gigi

An old person within a park,
An insane person within a city,
A person lying down without breathing,
A person sitting hearing bombs explode.

A person sitting for twenty years,
Watching a flare illuminating at night.
A group of children desensitized to sights of war.
Our people lie down with wounds within them.

Our motherland rests for twenty years,
With its fragile flesh and bones,
Waiting for the land to be blessed.
A golden pigment on our soft skins.
We must cherish the color of our country.

A long day in motherland,
A day in Viet Nam is so devastating.
A rice field brazen by the reddened land.
A herd of buffaloes won't plow the grass.

A long day in motherland.
Our people forgot that they're alive.
A prison that nourishes the people.
Our people miss their home.

The days are long and worrisome,
And every night, war torments us.
Our people appear so strange.
Our people look at each other with hatred.

A prison within motherland.
Our people have forgotten their race.
Every day we build upon our resentments.
Every day we crush the marks of war.

Our motherland rests for twenty years,
With its fragile flesh and bones,
Waiting for the land to be blessed.
A golden pigment on our soft skins.
We must cherish the color of our country.

A long day in motherland.
That group of children have matured.
An old person look on with grief,
Waiting for the cold breeze to calm.

A person sitting for twenty years.
A bittersweet moment with a glass of wine.
How can a Vietnamese person not have golden skin.
How can a mother not miss her deceased children.

Translator's Notes: The "we" in this song is the Vietnamese people. Trinh Cong Son uses the words "người Việt" (meaning: Vietnamese people) in almost every line and I translated it as "our people" since this song is for the Vietnamese people. By doing so, I hope the the readers can immerse themselves in this song and truly understand the emotions that Trinh Cong Son was conveying. The last two lines in this song are rhetorical questions and so I did not end them with a question mark.

16Jul/100

Khanh Ly – Dai Bac Ru Dem

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Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Artillery's Lullaby at Night
Translated By: Gigi

Night after night, the artillery shells descend into town.
A street sweeper halts his broom to silently listen.
As the shells drop, a mother wakes from her slumber.
As the shells drop, a child lets out an innocent cry.
Bright flames pierce the dark night over the mountains.

Night after night, the artillery shells descend into town.
A street sweeper halts his broom to silently listen.
After each round, a child awakens with fright.
A shelter collapses. Oh, the piles of flesh!
Each night its flames blinds the face of our land.

Thousands of bombs explode by the village gates.
Like rain, the bombs poured onto the rice fields.
A house burns crimson at the end of the street.
Endless grenades, claymores that the trucks carry.
Endless stores they carry throughout our town.
Bones scattered everywhere, our mothers', our loved ones'.

Night after night, the artillery shells descend into town.
A street sweeper halts his broom to silently listen.
Night after night, I can hear the future trembling.
Shells, like prayers, but they don't bring salvation.
A child barely alive listens to the sounds every night.

Night after night, the artillery shells descend into town.
A street sweeper halts his broom to silently listen.
Each night, the artillery shells sing our people to sleep.
Their familiar sounds, like a refrain from a sad folk song.
Our children have yet to mature to catch a glimpse of home.

14Jul/100

Khanh Ly – Hay Song Gium Toi

Composer: Trinh Cong Son
English Title: Live for Me
Translated By: Gigi

Live for me; speak for me; breathe for me.
This flesh is saved for the act of vengeance,
For madness, for ambition, of a pack of lunatics.

Live for me; speak for me; breathe for me.
This heart is saved for the crimson fire,
For peace, for the people who are still struggling.

Can anybody hear the voices of the Vietnamese people?
Who yearn only for peace within the dismal night,
Who yearn for the day where warmth will embrace their souls.

Live for me; speak for me; breathe for me.
It's been so long, why are you still waiting?
Why are you still sitting, silently sleeping, my brothers?

Live for me; speak for me; breathe for me.
What else is there to see besides the ravaging flames of war?
My people, how can you rejoice being nothing but beggars?

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.

13Aug/090

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.

15Oct/080

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.

14May/080

Asia Hop Ca – Dap Loi Song Nui

Composer: Truc Ho
English Title: Let's Volunteer for Our Country (1)
Translated by: Gigi

Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Our country is in danger, so we'll join together and dedicate our entire being.
Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Determined to defend our country, we would rather die for our homeland.

Here lies an infinite number of hearts. Here lies an infinite number of minds.
We all share the same bloodline known as Viet Nam.
Here lies Hung Dao Vuong. Here lie the Ly, Le, and Tran dynasties. (2)
Four thousand years, not once did we yield to foreign invasion.

Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Our country is in danger, so we'll join together and dedicate our entire being.
Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Determined to defend our country, we would rather die for our homeland.

We're determined to defend our country: every piece of land, every grass and tree
Every street and district, every road, every sea shore of our homeland.

Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Our country is in danger, so we'll join together and dedicate our entire being.
Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Determined to defend our country, we would rather die for our homeland.

Here lies an infinite number of hearts. Here lies an infinite number of minds.
We all share the same bloodline known as Viet Nam.
Here lies the Trung sisters. Here lie the Ly, Le, and Tran dynasties. (3)
Four thousand years, not once did we yield to foreign invasion.

Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Our country is in danger, so we'll join together and dedicate our entire being.
Let's volunteer for our country. Let's volunteer for the sake of our country.
Determined to defend our country, we would rather die for our homeland.

Viet Nam, Viet Nam, Viet Nam...

Translator's Notes:
(1) The title is "Dap Loi Song Nui" where "dap loi" is the verb that means to voluntary join the military draft. I just want to note that that's what I meant when I translated it as "volunteer." As for the two remaining words, "song nui" basically means rivers and mountains, and it is another meaning for "country."

(2) Hung Dao Vuong (also known as Tran Hung Dao) is a Vietnamese military Grand Commander of the Tran Dynasty. He controlled the Dai Viet armies whom repelled two major Mongol invasions in the 13th century.

The golden era of Vietnam is when the Ly and Tran dynasties were in command under the name Dai Viet, and they repelled three Mongol invasions. After these two dynasties, there was a brief time in which the Ming Dynasty of China invaded, but Vietnam's independence was restored by Le Loi, the founder of the Le Dynasty. That's why these three dynasties were mentioned in the song.

(3) The Trung sisters (Hai Ba Trung) were two 1st century women leaders who successfully repelled Chinese invasions for three years, and are regarded as national heroines of Vietnam.

9Mar/082

PBN 88 Hop Ca – Doan Nguoi Lu Thu

Composer: Lam Phuong
English Title: A Brigade of Soldiers
Translated By: Gigi

Over there is the gloomy, deep forest beneath the evening mist
Our train is traveling along a winding track under the night’s full moon
Our hearts filled with joy during this night, let us gather together
Beside one another we'll sing forever to forget the long road ahead

As we go into the late hours of the night, the old forest is silently hearing our voices.
Our voices unite with the clouds in the vast sky, so bright and dreamy
Overcoming thousands of perilous miles, our ambition vows to endure
When leaving on our journey, we only hope for a splendid tomorrow

Oh! Do stop by, clouds of the quiet night; where are you headed?
Oh! Even clouds understand how the North is filled with suffering across the fields
Oh, forest! The moon shines brightly across our many regions
The moon is coloring our surroundings with music, warmth and happiness.
A spring-filled love overflows around us with distant hopes and dreams
But no one knows whether life is just a dream

Soon, the siren will sound and vibrate, tearing apart the curtain of mist
Nervous hearts within the deep forest, as we stay awake under the night
A brigade of soldiers hazily walking, not knowing where the shore is
Walking to build adequate food and shelter, humane, and freedom

Even if the road is still long and vast ahead, let's pass through the hills
Even if there are wide oceans and deep forests, there's no need to hesitate
Soon, there will be a day when mountains and rivers embrace a song of peace
Blue birds will twitter as they celebrate the return of our brigade
...
Blue birds will twitter as they celebrate a glorious day of our return.

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).