Diễm Xưa by Trịnh Công Sơn

Sources

Lyrics

Song (I was too lazy to go through all the versions but the original composer sang this song if you want to listen. His second verse is actually in English but I didn’t use it in my translations)

Vietnamese

Mưa vẫn mưa bay trên tầng tháp cổ
Dài tay em mấy thuở1 mắt xanh xao
Nghe lá thu mưa reo mòn gót nhỏ
Đường dài hun hút cho mắt thêm sâu

Mưa vẫn hay mưa trên hàng lá nhỏ
Buổi chiều ngồi ngóng những chuyến mưa qua
Trên bước chân em âm thầm lá đổ
Chợt hồn xanh buốt cho mình xót xa

Chiều nay còn mưa sao em không lại
Nhỡ mai trong cơn đau vùi
Làm sao có nhau, hằn lên nỗi đau
Bước chân em xin về mau

Mưa vẫn hay mưa cho đời biển động
Làm sao em nhớ những vết chim di
Xin hãy cho mưa qua miền đất rộng
Để người phiêu lãng quên mình lãng du

Mưa vẫn hay mưa cho đời biển động
Làm sao em biết bia đá không đau
Xin hãy cho mưa qua miền đất rộng
Ngày sau sỏi đá cũng cần có nhau.

English

Rain still falls on the old tower floor
Your long arms and sometimes your pale eyes (?)
Listen to the rain hitting the fall leaves like little footsteps
The long road attracts my eyes deeply (?)

Rain still often falls on the row of little leaves
In the evening, I sit watching the rain pass
Leaves silently fall on your footsteps
Sudden sadness2 gives me sharp pain

It's still raining this afternoon, how come you haven't returned?
If tomorrow is buried in a painful storm(?)
How can we have each other, when traces of pain come up?
I'm begging you, come home soon

Rain still often falls on the rough ocean
How come you remember all the signs of the birds that left (?)
I ask the rain to pass the wide open earth
For the wanderers to forget about us drifting around (?)

The rain still often falls on the rough ocean
How do you know that the punch of alcohol doesn't hurt (?)
I ask the rain to pass the wide open earth
The day after tomorrow even the gravel3 needs to be together (?)

Notes

  1. I don’t know what “mấy thuở”  means
  2. “hồn xanh” literally translates to “green/blue spirit” but I don’t think this is what the composer meant
  3. I don’t know what “sỏi đá” means

Other Notes

I’m pretty dense when it comes to English poetry but Vietnamese poetry is a completely other level.  I originally picked this song because I liked the melody and thought what little I did understand sounded beautiful.  I was often confused going through the lyrics because Trịnh Công Sơn is (apparently) famous for his poetic lyrics, specifically his nature metaphors.  The lyrics can also be a little confusing with the lack of pronouns.  Some of the lines I had to guess if the speaker was referring to himself or the object of his affections.

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