NL (1930 / Vietnam)

Anguish

I have lived many years away from my old country
And resigned myself to becoming amongst the rabble
Never yet thought of the duty though of all and sundry
To achieve any responsibility even just to dabble.

Neither welcome, send-offs, nor greetings at least
Have I received through Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
But seen the neighbors' indifference West and East
And heaven-and-earth' vastness out of mine the inner.

When I decided to leave my native place, I did aspire
To return some day to gloriously liberate the land;
But real life, alas, has shattered all my deep desire,
All that I had dreamt of every night to my demand.

I have lived here in exile a kind of self-denial life
Letting time pass in a gone-with-the-wind fashion
In order that there is no distinction of our life-style:
The sight of others at work arouses my compassion.

Many a night I get wrapped up in reading books,
Short stories, novels, even trifles; but they do nerve,
And I feel under a spell because of beauty and looks,
And I seek for inspiration to create my own verse.

I wake up to see in the morning my hair snow-white,
In the evening my shoulders scraggy, cheeks sinking,
Anguish overwhelming heart, tears dimming eyesight.
Some pagoda bell somewhere around here is ringing...

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