Ông Ðồ Mỗi năm hoa đao nở Lại thấy ông đồ già Bày mực tầu giấy đỏ Bên phố

đông nguời qua. Bao nhiêu nguời thuê viết Tấm tắc ngợi khen tài Hoa tay thảo những nét Nhu phuợng múa rồng bay! Nhung mỗi năm mỗi vắng Nguời thuê viết nay đâu Giấy đỏ buồn không thắm Mực đọng trong nghiên sầu! Ông đồ vẫn ngồi đấy Qua đuờng không ai hay Lá vàng roi trên giấy Ngoài trời mua bụi bay. Năm nay đao lại nở Không thấy ông đồ xua Những nguời muôn năm cu Hồn ở đâu bây giờ? Vu Đinh Liên (1936)

Translated by Thomas D. Le 12 January 2005 The Calligrapher Just as the pink cherry blossomed each year The old scholar was sure to reappear With China ink and red paper in scrolls Amidst the swelling crowds that surged and rolled. So many people paid him handsomely For his talent that they admired dearly, The flourishes of his accomplished hand That wrought dragons and phoenixes on end. Each passing year saw fewer people come. Where were they all who paid him so handsome? Now his paper had lost its crimson red, His ink dried out in its sad forlorn bed. At his old place sat the calligrapher Amidst the hustling crowds without a stir. Some yellow leaves fell dead on his paper, And from above drizzle flew in a whir. This year the cherry blooms light pink again; The old scholar is found nowhere in vain. Of all those people lived in days of yore Where are they now, where'er forevermore?

Word for Word Translation

Mỗi Each Bày
display

năm year mực ink
nhiêu

hoa
flower

đao
peach

nở
bloom

Lại back Bên party tắc
switch
phuợng phoenix

thấy see phố city ngợi
praise

ông he đôn g east khen
commen d

đồ map
nguời people

già old qua
through

tầu ship thuê to
những

giấy paper viết write nét
definitio n

m đỏ red Tấm
plates

Bao how tay hand mỗi each đọn g
depositio n

tài
financial

Hoa
united Nhun g

much thảo
Worksh -op

Nhu as nay now vẫn still trên on

múa
dance e

rồng
dragon

bay
fly

the thuê rent
nghiên
research

but Mực toner ai who đao
training

vắng
absence

viết
articles

đâu
where

buồn sad đấy it trời sky

không

thắm petal
không

not
đuờn g

trong

sầu grief roi fall

ngồi sat
Ngoài

in Lá
leaves

sugar mua rain

not bụi dust

hay or

vàng
yello w

apart

lại again thấy see muôn want ở in giờ

nở bloom xua old cu old đâu where

Không no Những the Hồn soul bây now

Translation by Hong Chung, 2010 He, Who Wrote On Scarlet Paper Each year, the petals of the cherry blossoms opened The Wise man was to return once more With a bundle of black ink and scarlet parchment In the bustling village- bursting with people. They financed his work generously, His trade, the object of awe and praise The precision of his hands! Dragons and Phoenixes took flight from The command of his fingers. But the years increased And the people dwindled. Where were the devotees of his art? The vibrancy of the scarlet parchment Dissipated. The flowing ink from his fountain pen Lost its fluidity in grief.

The old man sat down With not a who or what in sight. Yellow leaves cascaded down his scrolls. Droplets descended from the sky. The petals of the cherry blossoms once more bloomed In the absence of the old man. The villagers continued to live and age. Where are they now?