Monday 23 October 2006

Quote of the Day

"The others leap, shout,


The moving water will not show me

my reflection.

The rocks ignore.

I am a word

in a foreign language."

"We are all immigrants to this place..."

(Disembarking at Quebec, Margaret Atwood)


The poem is the writer's lament for her loss of the native soil. They were immigrants to the heaven of freedom. But the price they had to pay for that freedom was loneliness. While some of the immigrants leaped and shouted joyfully for the freedom they had years longed for and found at last, the woman in the poem felt she had lost something precious. She looked around, finding herself in a dead silence where even water did not show her reflection and rocks ignored her presence. She was not who she had been; she was not herself anymore. From that moment on, she found out that she was just a word in a foreign language.

Loneliness. It may be the treasure, or the price we have to pay for freedom.

Modernist poetry, it might be a bit difficult to read and to comprehend.


Below is the poem in full text:

"It is my clothes, my way of walking,

the things I carry in my hand

-a book, a bag with knitting-

the incongruous pink of my shawl

the space cannot hear

or is it my own lack 

of conviction which makes

these vistas of desolation,

long hills, the swamps, the barren sand,

        the glare

of the sun on the bone-white

driftlogs, omens of winter,

the moon alien in day-

time a thin refusal

The others leap, shout


The moving water will not show me

my reflection.

The rocks ignore.

I am a word

        in a foreign language."


And my translation is as follows:

Là qun áo ca tôi, là dáng đi ca tôi

Là nh
ng gì tôi mang trong tay

n sách, chiếc túi thêu,

màu h
ng xa l trên chiếc khăn choàng

không gian không nghe tiếng tôi

Có phi chính tôi thiếu

m tin tưởng đã to nên

ng phong cnh cô đơn này

ng ngn đi dài, nhng đm ly, cát trng,

ánh sáng mt tri

trên nh
ng ngn xương trng

driftlog *

u ám ca mùa đông

t trăng xa l ngày dài

t s t khước mong manh

Nhng người khác đang reo vang:

T do!

Làn n
ước chy kia không cho tôi thy

hình bóng tôi

Đá cũng l
ng câm

Tôi ch
là mt t rơi rt

trong th
ngôn ng xa l này.


* Driftlog: I cannot look this word up in any dictionary available, and I cannot figure out its meaning. Image

Anyway, on the Vietnamese translation, sure you will find me influenced too strongly by Vietnamese modernist poetry, right? I know, I know... "từ khước", "lặng câm", "rơi rớt"... None of them is my true word. Well, I have tried my best not to be influenced by modern Vietnamese language, but it is really hard to create new words or new ways of expression. Where is my white flag??? Image