Nostalgia of the Jungle
Thế Lữ/Hien V. Ho
     Gnawing away my hatred in this iron cage,
     Lying low, watching days and months pass by,
     I despise these insolent stupefied humans
     Their small eyes staring, mocking the jungle's pride.
     Now, in my fall, humiliated and confined
     Just a freak show, a simple toy,
     Sharing the same pack with silly bears
     And the next cage's pair of carefree leopards.

     I live forever in longings and nostalgia
     Of the old days when I roved almighty.
     I miss the mountains and forests with their immense shade and ancient trees,
     With winds howling in the forests, with torrents shrieking through the mountains,
     While roaring my formidable epic song,
     I walked with dignity, I commanded respect
     My body undulating like harmonious waves
     Frolicking in the secretive shades of spiny leaves and cutting grasses.
     In my dark cave, once I glowered my supernatural eyes
     Immediately all other beings fell silent,
     Because I knew I was the supreme ruler of all kinds
     Among the trees and flowers without a name and age.

     Gone are the golden nights by the spring
     High with my prey, I drank the scattered moon light.
     Where are these days when rain erupted all sides
     When I quietly watched my realm renew its life?
     Where are the dawns with greenery awash in sunlight
     Jubilant birds songs awaking me from my sleep,
     The afternoons when the jungle was all gory
     While I waited for the blazing sun to die
     And these secret domains to become mine?
     Alas! Where are all those moments of glory!

     Now my resentment will last a thousand autumns,
     And I hate these surroundings that will never change,
     In these vulgar landscapes, fake and arranged,
     Maintained flowers, planted trees, trimmed lawns, even paths,
     Black water that doesn't even flow, acting like a spring,
     Creeping beneath tiny mounds,
     Some little benign foliage without mystery
     Trying to assume wilderness and immensity
     Of places millennial, majestic and obscure.

     O majestic landscapes of water and mountains
     Where sacred tigers reigned,
     Where unrestrained I roved in the old days,
     Places that never I will see again!
     Do you know there are days disillusioned
     I follow my grand dreams of the jungle
     To let my soul fly over close to you?
     Oh my awesome jungle landscapes, I miss you so!

        Please read the rest of the story in WAR AND REMEMBERANCE.