July 30th, 2008

poetry, exceptindreams

258: To Return to the Urges Unconscious of Their Beginning

"To Return to the Urges Unconscious of Their Beginning"
Pham Tien Duat

I want to return to the first urges, those urges that seemed so unconscious of their beginnings.
Urges that were eager to admire the first pen in my life my mother brought me when I was a child.
Urges that were the radiant new shirt of days in my poor village.
I want to return to those urges so unconscious of their beginnings.
Urges that were my astonishment at seeing the first feeding breast and the 1001st nostalgia that seemed almost too much to bear.
Urges that were the first naive and truthful song a soldier of the 308th division taught me in his loving arm.
Urges that were my first sensations at seeing my poems in print. How happy and anxious my heart that moment seeing the small creatures of handwriting incarnated into the dragons of type.
Urges that were the first insult about my poems that I heard from the mouth of one who didn't know me.
I want to return to those first urges so unconscious of their origins.
So I need no longer know which urges are introverted and which are extroverted.
So I need no longer know which poetry must be connected to policy and which must be away from policy.
So I need no longer know which poetry must be in established patterns as in "North of the River," or must be in free fashion as in "Cochinchina."
And last, so I need no longer know, can poems be sold, and can they be sold at a profit.

translated from the Vietnamese by Ngo Vinh Hai and Kevin Bowen