Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Life

I Want to Live
I want to live with Wu Sung the tiger-fighter
With Guan Yunzhang – red face, black beard
Become a musketeer and make friends with Athos
And his buddies, d’Artagnan, Porthos and Aramis!
I want to find Palestine where Christ was buried
And go crusading together with Ivanhoe
Live one thousand and one nights in the palace
Built by the lamp genie so that Aladdin could get married
Cross over to the American wildernesses
And go treasure-hunting on a sled with Jack London
I want to go to Russia and banquet with the tsar
Converse with Andrei one evening on a river bank
And walk with Pechorin in the Caucasus
Have pistol & sword duels and dance to the last
Meet with Dostoevsky in a sleepless night
Sitting by a samovar and ignoring the snow
Offering words of sympathy to the student murderer
And urging Filipovna to marry the nice idiot
Continuing my travels, I reach Spain
Where I follow Don Quixote on his chivalric missions
After a full life abroad, I’ll come home to our ancestral
Go to Lam Son to seek an audience with the Le king
Sit and fish by Nguyen Khuyen in a country pond
Discuss with Nguyen Du the issue of talent and fate
In the painful and suffering life of Kieu
Then I’ll go to Khan Xuan District to laugh with
Xuan Huong
Visit with Truong’s faithful wife in Nam Xuong District
Listen to the flute playing fellow, Truong Chi,
Sing his pain and dreams
Follow the North Pacifying King as he launches the
To go into Thang Long of the Nung Mountain and the Red
I want to live plentifully & exhaustively
Going back in time and in ancient history
So that I can satiate my love of life
Which in the present is being trampled & crushed
In this life where yam and manioc are coveted items.

By Nguyen Chi Thien

A Vietnamese poet who endured over  23 years of his life in prison ,off and on , for speaking out against power.
From 1960 when he was imprisoned for teaching that Soviets did not bring about the end of WWII  (as written in textbooks) -- that it was the American bombs that did -- until after  1977 when he was arrested  outside the British embassy after delivering over 400 of his poems, which he had envisioned and memorized while being imprisoned, and sentenced to 6 more years without trial;  three of them were in solitary confinement.

He died yesterday at 73 after living the last of his life in self imposed poverty in Santa Ana California.  He would not accept money for his presentations.    There was a nice writeup by the New York Times for his obituary.

More of his poems can be read  here .  Why are those so few that represent justice?

I couldn't find any photos of him smiling, on the searches.