Trinh Cong Son - mot nhac si khong cua rieng ai
Trinh Cong Son - Only his name, without any title or explanation is well known by the mass of over two last decades of the 20th century, from the old to the young and the intellectual to the ordinary labour... Most of them know him.
Who is he? The literature and art circle dearly calls him: Poetry person (Van Cao), Wandering sweetheart of a lot of generations (Hoang Phu Ngoc Tuong), the monk who wanders to sing (Do Minh Tuan), ballad prince (Nguyen Trong Tao), the poet of music, or Musician of poetry. But according to his opinion: "I am only a wandering singer through the regions to sing my own inspiration about life's illusory dreams..."
It is reasonable when many poets call Trinh Cong Son a poet. When lyrics in his songs are separated from melody, they are like those of poems. This shows that lyrics in Trinh music play a very important role.
Lyrics's in Trinh Cong Son's songs are mainly about: Love - hometown - lot. The boundary among them is not clear. The theme about hometown also includes love "Em" (sweetheart), and love "sweetheart" has homeland's passion. The love for "sweetheart", as well as the love for human life always includes "self", connecting about closely to status "self", the status of a human life, and sometimes, position of the country.
1. Lot. The speciality of Trinh Cong Son's songs is unique attributed to "I" personality. The "self" exists in all themes. The clearest presence of "self" is in the songs about the status, metempsychosis incarnation and releasing personality.
Who is "I"? More than once, the "self" personality looks back himself quietly. Bearing the losses in the illusory childhood, "today when not still young" I "suddenly recognize myself", as a faded shadow, blurring blot, a heavy stone "suddenly crashing on the immensity", and I continue "passing in the life... without waiting any one"
Troi cao dat rong (high sky, large earth)
Mot minh toi di (I go alone)
Mot minh toi di (I go alone)
Toi nhu vo tan (the life is as long as endless)
Mot minh toi ve (I come back alone)
Mot minh toi ve voi toi (I come back with myself only)
(Lang le noi nay) (Quiet in here)
After stepping the heel silently, "I" close the door to suffer the injury, putting myself in a gloomy room, looking at the shadow on the white wall and then one day, "I" sense the wildness around myself and utter: "Well! I am still alone.".
A lot of adjectives such as deserted, frigid, silent, tranquil, freezing, strange, nihilistic, lonely, gloomy, cold, etc. overlap and surround the status "I", weaving into an invisible giant net with the name of Co don (Alone).
Many people mention to the colour of Buddhism and existentialism philosophy in lyrics by Trinh Cong Son. He once acknowledged: "I like philosophy, therefore I want to bring philosophy into my songs". But it is "a light philosophy that everybody can understand like folksongs or lulling words of a mother". He once said: "Authentic existentialism is not bad", and "the highest degree of existentialism is Buddha". It is not the existentialism of living for today not tomorrow and resistance through rebellions. It is resistance potentially existing in the thought to be "song binh tinh trong tung sat na" (live calmly in each present-day), to be awaken and thank life.
The poet Hoang Phu Ngoc Tuong, a close friend of Trinh Cong Son from childhood found out: four words "birth - old age - disease - death" buddhism talks about suffering of human being are included in the lyrics by Trinh Cong Son..
He is true. It is not difficult to find out four words of the Buddhism in the lyrics of this "Buddhist monk". The word "birth" is hidden in "cay non tren nui dau thai", (Young tree in the mountain reincarnates) and covered into "tieng khoc cuoi cua bao thai' (the sound of crying and smile of a foetus). The word "birth" is also in a dust which is growing up and resounding the beginning cry to announce "tin buon me cho mang nang kiep nguoi" (sad news that mother gives it a heavy life).
Just being borned, human starts an aging process at once. "Tung tuoi xuan da gia" (Each year passing by is aging), to "chot mot chieu toc trang nhu voi" (suddenly some day hair is as white as lime) and agree that "co mot bac dau toi di, toi di" (I go when my hair become white). The word "old-age" was found in "lau trang trong tay" (the old reed on the hands), in "toc nguoi dong song xua ay phai" (the hair of old sweetheart in the river faded). The word "old-age" is written on a faded autumn leaf, on the old moon and on the life covered with moss.
Human life is an endless suffering, with "con dau chua dai" (not-long spasms of pain) and "con dau len day" (spasms of pain are full). The long spasms of pain engraved hundreds of sad wounds of an ill heart, a tired body and knee. The word "disease" seems to be haunted in "than dau muon nam" (suffering body wants to rest), in "tung chieu len hap hoi" (each evening is near one's last.
The stop for a wandering life on the temporary world is the death. For TrÞnh C"ng Sn, the death is as familiar as the place where one comes back to relax after a tempotary wandering trip. It does not wear black overcoat, with a terrorizing face next to fatal shears:
Toi nay o tro tran gian
Tram nam ve chon xa xam cuoi troi
(I now lodging in the world
Returning the place where is very far at the end of the sky after death)
Many people recognize that Trinh Cong Son often says "silly thing" about "passing away". He seemed to only know a hundred-year living for a thousand year. Therefore he is anxious "con bao lau cho than thoi luu day chon day, con bao lau cho thien thu xuong tren than nay" (I continue to be exiled for how long and when I will die).
He paid attention to the day he would die not because he was disgusted with the life but because he loved his life so much. But the death is very close to the life. At the teenage period he thought of "the shadow of death". The word "death" appears so often in his sleep that when awaking he said: "If I had to go, I had to separate from the life". He wanted to accept the day he died calmly, without fear and regret. The death comes naturally as dead leaf drops. That a life lives a hundred year and dies in one day is accepted with a calm attitude and the heart is not so sad like a dream "to thay toi qua doi" (I dream of my death).
Avoiding the fear of death by repairing a light death without any worry for himself, such death is similar to life. In order to make life useful and surpass the death, human life prolong to the nihilistic world, the best way is to live for present with a heart. It was the "heart" and "love" that TrÞnh C"ng Sn wanted to leave for life, and "trao den muon loai chut tinh toi" (give all beings a little of my love).
To come to life, firstly, one should know to listen. "I" listen not only to his own happiness, sadness but also to the howl of heaven and earth, the sound of nature, the silence of day and night, people's sentiment, the rise and the fall of the life and the immensity of life.
To embody in all beings "I" felt and listened: I changed into a leaf or a rose, a spot of fire or a lamp, a waterfall or the ceasing rain, a bird or a child.
The desire for fitness and sharing to the life changed "you" into "I" and "I" into "you", saved "I" in the hopelessness. Despite faint fate and limited life "I" still want to "show gratitude to man, life, everybody".
In the songs composed in the later periods, philosophy about life is often mentioned. That philosophy both reflects meditation, expresses between the devil and the deep blue sea is very simple after things recognized at old age, and has queer characteristic of the childish.
Bao nhieu nam roi con mai ra di (Travelling for many years)
Di dau loanh quanh cho doi moi met (why still going to make life tired)
(Mot coi di ve) (A world for returning)
Bien song bien song dung xo toi (Wave sea, wave sea don't rush me
Ta xa bien lai ve dau (I rush sea, the sea rise wave where)
(Song dung xo toi) (Wave, don't rush me)
Actually, fatherland is also fate and love but not the love and the fate of one person but of many people and fate - for fatherland and of fatherland.
The love for fatherland is the love for the people, nature and heaven and earth. Trinh Cong Son considered himself not only the "sweetheart" of man but also "the sweetheart of the nature"
Co nhung tinh yeu tim thay (There are some love which is found)
Tung ngon nui con song ruong vuon (In each mountain, river, field and garden)
Tung dong suoi con song dau lang (In each spring, river at the beginning of the village)
Da mang hinh bong que huong (They are the images of the fatherland)
...tim thay noi nho tu moi chiec la (Miss is found in each leaf)
Goc pho nao cung thay que nha. (Any corner of street also see the hometown)
Nature closely links to happiness and sadness of each human life. In loneliness, Trinh Cong Son calls not only the name of "his sweetheart" but also the name of four seasons, sunlight and rain. In life, nature is equal to human being. Sunlight is jealous and then dies on the long river. Mountain stands to wait for the man's comeback to cheer. River carries hurt soul and nearly dead date and then the river also passes away. The sun is lonely and looks down on cloud sorrowfully. He heard the confidence of wind, the sigh of wind and saw each small dewdrop and he got all immensities, pain of each stone stele to know that stone still needs each other.
Rain, A natural phenomenon, is deepened in the soul of man most by songs of Trinh Cong Son. In the songs by Trinh Cong Son, rain is an alive image with colour and soul. Rain drops in the heart of human being, shows the heart of human being "loneliness along street" and then "crying bitterly in the roadside". Rain whispers, is cold and silent. Despite thin rain, it sometimes carries the extinguishing the power to dip both previous thousands of years and following thousands of years, to make the earth turn over and life change into rough sea. Rainfall, drizzling and rain lulling are often found in the songs by Trinh Cong Son because rain is a symbol of Hue. Rain, together with images of river, old town, tombs and temples, smoke and dew and slender thin appearances creates the space. Therefore although HuÕ is not mentioned even only one time, Hue characteristics in the heart of Trinh Cong Son is still recognized.
The sparkling and poetic image of the fatherland was lost in war songs. The fatherland was sunk in explosion: the explosion looked like a sad prelude, the sound of cannon was found instead of the lulling of the mother, the elderly heard the sound of bomb sadly, children didn't think of their development and only pricked up their ears. The fatherland was covered with the death and grief: a girl who never sang folksong went mad and went up to high mountain to sing on the dead bodies, a mother lulled her baby sleeping in delirium, since she died at teenage.
War generated some cold fables:
Mot ngay mua dong (one day of the winter)
Tren con duong mon (On the track) Mot chiec xe tang (A hearse)
Trai min no cham (A delayed-action mine)
Nguoi chet hai lan (Two-time dead)
Thit da nat tan (the human body breaks)
It is not awesome for a natural dead of a human life. But it is disastrous and fearful for the dead found every where in the war: hasty dead, unintentional dead, cold dead, inarticulate dead and twisted dead.
In the war, the more you love fatherland and human the more you are thirsty for peace. From the loss and the grief, the perception of humanity by Trinh Cong Son overcame all, time, distance, feud. He saw the union of yellow-skin Vietnamese people who heal Vietnam together so that every person can love and live completely in the circle of life and death.
Tu Bac vo Nam noi lien nam tay (Linking hands together from the North to the South)
Ta di vong tay lon mai cho het son ha (We link our arms as largely as the country)
Mat dat nguy nga anh em ta ve (we return when marvelous victory)
Gap nhau mung nhu bao cat quay cuong troi rong (We are so happy when meeting)
Ban tay ta nam noi lien mot vong tu sinh (Our hands grasp to link a circle of the life and death)
Bien xanh song gam noi lien Viet Nam (Blue sea and brocade river link a circle of Vietnam)
3. Love Trinh Cong Son began his composition cause with love songs. He gained a lot of success from songs about his unsuccessful, unilateral love. He once said that: "I only have indistinct loves, not a special person". His love sometimes is only for the hair or the appearance of the girls but when those loves "left him like small rivers" he suffered a lot.
Therefore, the image of the sweetheart in the songs by Trinh Cong Son is beautiful and sad, very slender and pale: beautiful but weak, very thin with faint smile and very blue liking gem. If nature always has human-love, human-love is always compared to all things: burning lip, eye lash is as curved as smoothy grass, jade-like hand, cold-silk shoulders, skin is as fragrant and sweet as fruit and: "each pink mass of cloud that you carry on your shoulder", body is as slender as cane and flower and leaf among mild nature. And then, the portrait of the "sweetheart" is painted with earth and heaven such as sunlight, wind, cloud, rain etc.
Nang co hong bang doi moi em (Whether sunlight is as pink as her lips)
Mua co buon bang doi mat em (Whether rain is as sad as her eyes)
Toc em tung soi nho (Her hair is so small hair)
Rot xuong doi lam song lenh denh (dropping in life to create drifting wave)
Gio se mung vi toc em bay (Wind is glad as her hair flies)
Cho may hon ngu que tren vai (To let cloud sulk and drop off to sleep on the shoulders)
Vai em gay guoc nho (Her shoulders is small)
Nhu canh vac ve chon xa xoi. (As the wing of night heron flying to the remote place)
Thin, slender shoulder has to carry the whole space - "large sea on the shoulder", and time - "carrying afternoon on the shoulder", "a day on the shoulder". The girl goes into human-life, human-love through the images of small, pink heels, gentle, flexible and silent footsteps.
In addition to slender, black, beautiful and falling-down hair, the girl also has "thin hair" vµ "sad hair". She is more beautiful, illusory and sadder with blue, deep, very pale and boundless-smile eyes and with fragrant, soft pink, red persimmon, rosy, medium pink, light pink lip and pink "like vain leaf".
A very important organ besides shoulder, hair, eyes and lip is hands. Tapering fingers are soft, thin, long, recognize sadness and regret and know to wait and fall into oblivion. Her hands are both gentle and "cruel", both building and breaking, "it is her hands that bring joy and suffering for her lover".
Therefore, she is weak and soft, but actually "when seeing her the life becomes difficult, each of her footstep looks like each crazy nail". In My eyes, she has two sides, and makes Me "looking one into two, in My sight she is both very lovely and cruel".
Always thinking about love, such as missing love, remote love and sad love, Trinh Cong Son has a series of "definitions" of love with the images of comparison both real and unreal of his own: love is as slim as sunlight but has the power of devastation like the storm through globe, love both soar as highly as bird flies and falls down as fast as the shadow of the bird at the end of the pass.
Trinh Cong Son's love, like the image of the girl of his heart, is beautiful and sad. The beauty is slim and fragile and the sadness is quiet and very sweet. There is one more characteristic of the portrait "I": very honest, devoted and generous in love. A person who has ever had several times for singing about life, shedding tears both for singing about human being and pitying for singing about myself, certainly saves a lot of words to sing about love and the sweetheart. He is eager to do all, to be a raindrop, dewdrop or mass of cloud, wind, a lamp, a drop of ink, a dream or smile just in order to see her happy in life.
Toi xin lam qua tro, buon chan em ghe cho
... Toi xin lam da cuoi, va lan theo got hai
I want to become an inn to welcome your visit ...I want to become pebble to roll following your shoe heel (Who knows the origin) When she forsakes "I", still "love you and love more the faithlessness in love, when loving you, my heart is merciful suddenly". Although she leaves the pain for him, he still "Ask four seasons of the heaven and earth to be windless, and the path of life she goes full of fragrant flower and beautiful sunlight".
The heart is a beautiful characteristic in the lyrics by Trinh Cong Son The beauty is also formed by poetry characteristic. Trinh Cong Son's songs are full of poetry characteristics when talking about love while using philosophy when talking about fate.
Poetry characteristic is full of in landscape and love. Trinh Cong Son grasped strange colors since he has the eyes of a poet and painter: her eyes " as glistening as glass sunlight" and the color of white shirt "as pure as the light of falling star", the color of "sunset in the pavement" and "the sunlight of the afternoon spreading out the bridge span", the color of "the city at night is covered by yellow color-light" and "the weak singing of an afternoon"... He saw "sunset in her eyes... thousands of trees are sparkling like the light of candles", "the afternoon on her shoulder and the sadness on her lips" and road cleaner sweep the sunlight of the autumn, south wind of the winter, the sunlight of the summer to collect the leaves for coming spring.
In his eyes, many normal sights suddenly become extraordinary and full of expressive:
Mot chieu xa da bay ve gan (An afternoon from the old days reappears)
Roi tren song roi sau bo thanh (Dropping on the river, falling behind the wall)
Nhin co cay rang pha mau hong (Looking at grass and trees mixing a little pink color)
Nhin ao lua thinh khong (Looking at you with air silk cloth)
Mat troi nhu trai cay tuyet vong ... (The sky looks as hopeless as fruit etc.)
Oi ao xua long long (Old immense cloth!)
Da xo dat troi chieu (Drifting the afternoon sky)
Nhu tung con nuoc rong (Like each large water)
Xoa mot ngay diu hiu (Abolishing a gloomy day)
Thuong ai ve ngo toi (Loving the girl who return in the dark lane)
Bao nhieu la roi roi (With a lot of falling leaves)
Thuong ai cuoi khong noi (Loving one who smiles without speaking)
Ngap ngung la hon vai (Leaf falls down hesitantly as it wants to kiss the shoulder)
Trinh Cong Son expresses love and mood in his own way. People say that "quen hoi ben tieng" (familiar with the smell and voice), Trinh Cong Son composed "thuong ai ao quen hoi " (loving shirt since used to the smell) and when they are separate "the soul is injured". Because the authour compared love with a shirt, he inhesitatedly hung love on the nail to dry love in the sun. Not only does "the heart soared as high as hundreds of crane flying", but also a smile "taking off in a hurry".
Special usage and combination of word changed the real into unreal and vice versa and the abstract into existing ones with real material - real but very poetic. Sunlight becomes more glistening when it is compared with a real material to become "glass sunlight". Common way of speaking, such as: living over a half of human life is clearly not as impressive as changing the life into stone to express like Trinh Cong Son: "I roll on the life exceededly".
Maybe because of unstableness in the heart, unstableness in life and in love he wanted to break balance and symmetry and inclined a lot of things: "inclining hand, shoulder, head, sadness and love" and then asked: "Man know life inclining?".
Combination of imagination with flexibility in using words makes his lyrics more beautiful, extraordinary, and sometimes difficult to understand. The vague and abstract characteristics greatly contribute to the unique characteristics in his lyrics. He composed a lot of impressive phrases: "vet lan tram (deep rolling trace), vong tieu tuy (skinny circle), bo mong mi (dreaming bank), vung an nan (regretful area)". Sometimes he used adjective instead of noun, which created more mysterious, "extraordinary" for insinuated objectives: yeu dau tan theo (disappearance), nghe nhung tan phai (hearing the fading), om lay mit mung (embracing immensity), cuoi voi am u (smile at gloom). The mystery was created by sophisticated expressions: "Xin vo tay cho deu, moi nguoi thoi nhung am ba" (please clapping hands steadily, human's lip stoping sound wave) and "terrible" images: insect sleeps on hair, then singing a final song in the dark and then at mid-night forgetting all sadness "de nguoi ve hat dem hong diu dang con in dau chan quen" (so that one returns and sings paradise pink night which imprints forgetting foot).
Sometimes, mystery is only for feeling, cannot or doesn't need to be explained specifically. Although sometimes the lyrics by Trinh Cong Son cannot be understood by some people they still enjoy, feel and love his songs. For him, that is enough because the most important thing in arts is "how to open the shortest road between the heart of composer and the heart of people without explanation".
Poetic and humane lyrics and unsophisticated and flexible music close to Vietnamese people and having his own style make Trinh Cong Son's songs easily go into the heart of people. The hearers enjoy the music and sometimes their feelings are satisfied, etc. Trinh Cong Son expressed and will express thinkings and feelings of many people and generations through his music. Like his inspiration "Although I pass away, my songs still remain as an evidence of my sad and glorious life" and "It is a pity wandering of a limited life who wants to grab unlimitation to pledge for life".
It is true to say that unique lyrics which is both "deep meditation" and poetic make important contribution to forming Trinh Cong Son's fame.
(Extracted from the essay: Trinh Cong Son - life and masterpiece)
Nguyen Thi Minh Chau