PROUD TO BE A VIETNAMESE


THẾ PHONG



You are a Vietnamese soldier. Be proud
The unbreakable flow of bullets and rockets bruises you, staggers you, singing the praises
Do not envy anyone
even if you have to live at subsistence level
Americans are a special lot. They are stinking with money, their arsenal is fanstastic
Do you believe
that the pay of all of us, including yours
comes from their treasure?
Just as one single dollar is worth more than two hundred Vietnamese piasters
So a single word from the adviser-cum-master carries more weight than a hell lot of our ideas
In the battefields we shed blood
so that our just cause will prevail some day
I say this
althought I am pretty sick of hollow words like peace, independence, and freedom
I also know the two Vietnam are hirelings of world powers
We cannot control our fate or that of our country.
This is because
we are poor and hungry
we are weak and powerless
Even if we are chained race
we ought to be proud
Be apologetic to the Allied advisers
even when they are to blame
Forget the frustations and sufferings of over twenty years of war
Forget your own youth full of sc ars
I know this
and I ask you never to utter a cry
never, never...
Don't be shaken by the reporter who wrote in sorrow
In Cam Ranh the Allied MP's stripped Vietnamese girls
to search for smuggled goods
We accept their right of search, but can you explain to me
Why they tore down bras and slip, and why they outraged our national flag.

Close our eyes
forget it
pretend not to see anything
You know dawn well you are not in the position to do anything about it
Of couse you may blush for the weakness of your countrymen
These days we are worse than beasts, would you believe it?
( A beast does not stand idle its mate or partner is bullied).
We all knew this in kindergarten textbooks of good conduct.
Right! Right!We are no longer ourselves in our country
I still ask you to be proud to be a Vietnamese
our country will know its day
Our people are tired of endless suffering. Come and rule over us, O peace!
Of your friends
count the dead
count the living
Do not forget those who died unburied, do not let them die for nothing
Do not believe an American militiaman
Fights because of his goddam salary
None of us can ever bring ourselves to be mercenaries...
Be assumed! This land of ours
improverished today
willl be plentiful in mineral ores
The stratoforesses are doing just that for us,
Apart from other things which I hate to tell you about.
When they come
the mighty earth shakes violently, ceaselesstly
As if under the spell of the macabre music you hear in churches on Sundays.
I ask you, our sworn enemies, to be proud
that after twenty years of terrible war
You still stand on your feet
while the stratofortresses rain millions of tons of bombs and rockets
You deserves to be called true heroes of endurance
I never question this
I only ask you to open your eyes wide enough
To see your country
being reduced to a happy hunting ground
Shoud we resign ourselves to this
until doomsday?
It is not strange
that today, today
there are more G.I's in Vietnam than in America?
It is not fair
to ask
whether the end of the ordeal is near?
No matter how you feel
do not go all funny
do not show resentment to Allied soldiers
The bunch of white, browns, blacks and reds
come here to our rescue!
They brought with them
flour
corned beeef
and plastic wrapped goods
They are right if you remember our ancestral enemies the goddam Chinese
Are ready at all times to march in to force domination upon us
It won't not take long because they are right at out doorstep
Do not be galled by the sight of boards reading No Admittance to Local
My friend
bury your face in your hands
then cast a long glance at the sea
And the mountains and forests and meadows and streams. This country is yours.
O when will our country cease to be a baby in the arms of the American nurse
When will regain its place as the second rice exporter in the world...
I have been in every corner of my country
Wherever I was I could not help the pang in my heart
It is paintful to know
we are no longer able to feed ourselves
Every bullets
every toilet roll
every piece of corrugated iron
every piaster of your salary
Does not come from our land
Do not go all funny, man
mountainous sorrow will make you a philosopher
Before long
we will have no taste left for romantic literature
instead we will write treatises on human despair
I konw you
do not want to hear any more talk about it...
I only want to tell you
Do not approve of mixed marriages
however justified the motive
Educate your children
on the hardships and misfortunes of today
(To live is suffering is to deserve to live)
When you go out in the streets
When you are on operations in the countryside
Try hard to protect our women and girls
Do not act like cursed strangers
(Nobody can afford to be a foreigner in his own country)
Cool down man
when you are taken as undersirable background in photographs
When you see Yanks coming out of the PX all smiles
Cool down man
When you have not enough to live on
it goes without saying
You should refrain from buying gifts for your girl friend of your own race.

Saigon, Sept., 68.


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UPLIPTING POEMS
Đại Nam Văn Hiến Books, Saigon 1964.

translated from the vietnamese by DAM XUAN CAN .











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