Archive for Poems

A Poem By Emperor Quang Trung

Posted in Modern History, Poetry with tags , , , on February 18, 2011 by Ian Pham

Emperor Quang Trung Nguyễn Huệ, the general that never lost.  Under his leadership, the Army of Tây Sơn overthrew the corrupted Dynasties of Trịnh And Nguyễn, and sequentially smashed the Qing Army to pieces.  He was a mastermind who unified Vietnam and mapped out a plan to turn the country into a modern empire.  Sadly, he passed away before his plans could be realized.

It is said that when the soldiers of Qing heard the name of Quang Trung, they simply packed up and left the battlefield before he arrived.  The following are the words of Quang Trung, a rallying cry from the fearless leader himself.  This call to arms should give us an idea of what kind of man he was, and why he was the military leader that never lost a single battle.

Fight for the right to grow our hair long,

Fight for the right to dye our teeth black,

Fight so they never dare to challenge us,

Fight until their armor turns to dust,

Fight to teach them a lesson, enshrined in our history, that the heroes of the South shall always reign supreme!

Đánh cho để dài tóc,

Đánh cho để răng đen,

Đánh cho nó chích luân bất phản,

Đánh cho nó phiến giáp bất hoàn.

Đánh cho sử tri Nam quốc anh hùng chi hữu chủ!

– Nguyễn Huệ Quang Trung, 18th Century


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Listening to the Rain

Posted in Dynastic History, Poetry with tags , , on November 12, 2010 by Ian Pham

A Poem by Nguyễn Trãi

With all the tensions in the world, one should remember to take a break once in a while and ease the mind with a little poetry.  This is “Listening to the Rain,” composed by Nguyễn Trãi, great poet and political genious of the 15th century.  Translated by contemporaries, Do Nguyen and Paul Hoover.

Jouissez!

“Alone in a dark, silent room.

Listening to the rain fall the whole night long.

The somber sound is a shock to the pillow.

Drop by drop falling melodiously, endlessly.

The sound of bamboo tapping on the window

And a ringing bell melt gently into my peaceful dream.

Mumbled some poems but can’t fall asleep,

Continually listening, drop by drop, until sunrise.”

Hoover, Paul & Do Nguyen. Beyond the Court Gate: Selected Poems of Nguyễn Trãi. Denver, Colorado: Counterpath Press. 2010.