A Man for All Seasons

poetry, song, and photos remembrance of Nguyen Chi Thien

by women who mourn him

Autumn 2012
Autumn in Canberra,
Australia in May 2006

Nguyen Chi Thien
photographed by Elizabeth Nguyen

(below)  Anh and Yen Tran
visited Bac Thien often in
his last days
Vĩnh Biệt             

Tiếng thơm tho đã nhiều người chọn
Nói về anh tràn ngập những văn từ
Những khổ đau trong cảnh ngục tù
Thơ anh vẫn trỗi lên niềm hy vọng
Tôi là một trong nhiều người thương mến
Yêu quý anh
Anh là một nhân tài
Thơ của anh càng đọc càng hay
Càng thắm thía quê hương và thân phận
Khao khát tự do tràn dâng với niềm uất
Thơ trải ngầm những giấc mộng yêu
Cuộc sống anh giản dị lạ thường
Không bận rộn với vấn đề vật chất
Anh ưu tư, anh hùng hồn, anh bất khuất
Anh nhìn về đất mẹ để xót xa
Ngày tháng dần qua
Tuổi đời chồng chất
Dáng thi nhân gầy guộc mỗi lúc thêm
Đầu thu này lá chưa rụng qua thềm
Một sức nóng cuốn anh vào cõi khác
Không gian ảo có nỗi buồn rào rạt
Thơ văn anh được bàn luận nhiều hơn
Khí phách anh hậu thế noi gương
Anh an nghỉ cõi vĩnh hằng xa thẳm
Vĩnh biệt anh, trời thu này buồn lắm!

Di Hạnh
Oct 3, 2012

Many people have chosen good words
To describe you
Despite much suffering in prisons
You poems still talk of hope
I am one of the many who loved you
Respected/adored you
You were very talented
The more we read your poems, the more
we see the fineness in them
We understand more our country and our
Our thirst of freedom mixed with

Latent dreams of love were also there
You lived a strangely simple life
Not burdened with mundane things
Thoughtful, eloquent, indomitable
You looked back to our country to lament

Time goes by
Your age increased
The poet became more thin
This autumn, the leaves still did not fall on
the veranda
A hot air already pulled you to another
The cyberspace became sorrowful
Your poems were discussed more
Your determination will be followed
You rest in a faraway realm
Goodbye my friend, this Autumn is very

Di Hạnh
Oct 3, 2012
Translation by Thuan Do

Nguyen Chi Thien in Warsaw, seated next to Mrs. Thuy Truong (foreground)     
        October 26, 2006          Canh Nam Publishers, Virginia

Hang T. Nguyen was a young student in Spain when reading the expatriate
Vietnamese publication of
Hoa Dia Nguc in the early 1980s.  First moved to tears,
and then to translation into English of the work in 1984. The published poems in  
translation was followed quickly by that of Huynh Song Thanh for Yale University,
which won the Rotterdam International Poetry Prize in 1985.  

It was not known where the Prison Poet was held or if he was alive or dead.  
In 2006 Mrs. Hang met Nguyen Chi Thien in person; they collaborated on a new
bilingual edition in 2007 published by Allies for Freedom in Palo Alto, California  

ISBN 0-8062-2233-6                                                                           ISBN 0-9773638-4-8
Mrs. Trieu Nghe, the daughter of Vu Hung, imprisoned with Nguyen Chi Thien
(center) was honored with a poem written in 1996 for all the women of the
Vietnamese diaspora.                                                                      
Photo by PhuocDiem  

(right) The author at Laguna Beach on September 12, 2012, photographed by
Nguyen Mong Trinh, who is documenting his life story in Vietnamese history.

Do Thi Thuan  sings
Giọt Mưa Thu
        Autumn Raindrops
Poet Thien's sisters at their
parents' tomb in Nam Ha Province,
Vietnam, in 1994.  

Mrs. Hao (left) passed away in 2004.
Mrs. Hoan (age 90) lives in
Hai Phong,  Vietnam

Matter antimatter
Motion stillness
Reflections ripple
Through a glass darkly
Face to face Nevemore.

Jean's Autumn reflections of NCT
Mrs. Nhan Ly, Mrs. Tang-Thai Di Hanh,
Mrs. Nga Tran and Mr. Thanh Tran
cared for their friend in life and his
last days.   

Do Thi Thuan at Crystal
Cathedral, resting place of
Nguyen Chi Thien    
Nguyen Chi Thien and Jean
Libby at the San Jose
History Park Bookshop in