VIETNAMESE POETRYtranslated và annotated

Dr. Đàm Trung PhápProfessor EmeritusTexas Woman’s University


“Bà Trưngquê ngơi nghỉ châu Phong”

Lê Ngô cát et al.

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Lady Trưng hailed from the Phong prefecture.Enraged by a greedy tyrant and determined to avenge her husband,she & her younger sister, who shared a solemn oath,raised the lady-warrior flag asserting their command …

Thepopular verses above refer lớn Vietnam’s revered heroines Trưng Trắc và TrưngNhị. In the year 40, these two sisters recruited thousands of followers whohelped them rout the greedy và cruel Chinese governor Su Ding (Tô Định), whohad killed Trưng Trắc’s husband Thi Sách. Su Ding’s cowardly escape to Chinamarked the end of Vietnam’s first Chinese occupation, which had lasted 150 years<1>. Trưng Trắc became the reigning queen of Vietnam until the year 43, whenshe và her younger sister were defeated by the Chinese marshal Ma Yuan (Mã Viện)and subsequently killed themselves by jumping into a river. Since their deathsalmost two thousand years ago, they have been reverently commemorated as thenation’s paragons of heroism on their death anniversary (the sixth day of thesecond month of the lunar year). Shrines in their honor exist in many places,even in southern Guangdong (Quảng Đông) in China, but the two best-known onesare in Đồng Nhân village near thủ đô hà nội and Hát Môn village in đánh Tây province.

Accordingto the book Lĩnh nam giới Chích quái quỷ (WondersPlucked from the Dust of Lingnan) written in the fifteenth century, the Trưngsisters were born in Mê Linh village, Phong prefecture. Their father was a Lạclord in Giao prefecture. Trưng Trắc was a strong & brave woman who wasmarried lớn Thi Sách, a resident of Diên prefecture. When the egregious Chinesegovernor Su Ding killed Thi Sách, TrưngTrắc & her sister Trưng Nhị started an uprising against the Chineseoccupation. Supported by the people of CửuChân, Nhật Nam, & Hợp Phố districts, the sisters pacified sixty-fivestrongholds throughout Lĩnh phái mạnh <2>. As the country’s new sovereign, QueenTrưng Trắc phối up her court in Mê Linh, abolished the insidious tribute taxesimposed by the Chinese, & restored a simpler khung of government reflectingtraditional Vietnamese values. Su Ding escaped to đài loan trung quốc and was dismissed bythe Han court, which later dispatched Ma Yuan (Mã Viện) và Liu Long (LưuLong), two seasoned generals, to Lĩnh Nam to reclaim it. The fighting lastedfor more than a year in lạng ta Sơn. Outnumbered by the much more adept enemy, theTrưng sisters & their troops had khổng lồ retreat lớn Cấm Khê, where they weredefeated. As their troops dispersed, our heroines killed themselves bydrowning.

Inthe thirteenth century, the historian Lê Văn Hưu <3> did not mince his wordswhen he wrote about the heroic deeds of the Trưng sisters, as recorded in Đại Việt Sử cam kết Toàn Thư (Complete Bookof History of Great Viet) compiled by the historian Ngô Sĩ Liên <4> in thefifteenth century:

“TrưngTrắc và Trưng Nhị were women. They gave one shout và the Cửu Chân, Nhật Nam,and đúng theo Phố districts, along with sixty-five strongholds, responded khổng lồ them.Their setting up the nation and proclaiming themselves as queens was as easy asturning over their hands. This shows that our land was able lớn establish aroyal tradition. Alas, for a thousand years after this uprising, the men of ourland bowed their heads, folded their arms in servitude khổng lồ the Chinese. Howshameful this is in comparison with the Trưng sisters!”

Reflectingon the astute thinking of the scholar Phạm Huy Thông <5> in his 1975 article ona new synthesis of Vietnamese history inspired by recent archeologicaldiscoveries, published in học hành 21(237),two highlights in which were that the destruction of the ancient Vietcivilization by the Chinese victors after the Trưng sisters’ short-lived erawas a “death that did not become death,” và that “though oppressed by aforeign country for a thousand years, the will that we are we among our people was not something that could be shakenloose,” Taylor (1983, p. 339) cogently summarized how contemporary Vietnameseevaluate the Trưng sisters:

“Itimplies that if the Trung sisters had not resisted, there would be noVietnamese nation today, that the uprising of A.D. 40 effectively ‘froze’ theDong-son heritage <6> in a moment of historic courage, insuring that it wouldnot degenerate và invite the scorn of later generations. The Trung sisterswere the last of the pre-Chinese popular leaders; their deeds echoed across thecenturies of Chinese rule, calling the Vietnamese back to lớn an ancient inheritance.”

Twopoems written in honor of the Trưng sisters are translated and annotated below.The first one, translated by the scholar Huỳnh sinh Thông (1996, p 30), isfrom the Hồng Đức Anthology compiledin the fifteenth century by the highly literary court of King Lê Thánh Tông.The second one is from the Đại Nam’sNational History Explained in Verse, a work by a group of poets that wasrevised by Lê Ngô cát (1827-1879) and Phạm Đình Toái during the Nguyễn dynasty.

Vịnh nhị Bà Trưng

Giúpdân dẹp loạn trả thù mình,

Chịrủ cùng em kết nghĩa binh.

TôĐịnh bay hồn vang một trận,

LĩnhNam mở cõi vững trăm thành.

Mớidày bảo vị gia ơn trọng,

Đãđội hoa quan xuống phúc lành.

Cònnước còn non còn miếu mạo,

Nữtrung đệ độc nhất vô nhị đấng tài danh.

Homageto the Trưng Queens

Toslay the people’s foe và wreak revenge,

twosisters took up arms for their just cause.

Onebattle put Su Ding’s scared wits lớn rout;

ahundred tribes rose up to lớn guard Lingnan.

Theyclimbed the throne – large bounties they bestowed.

Theydonned their crowns – sweet blessings they conferred.

Whilestreams và hills endure, their shrine shall stand,

amonument to peerless womanhood.

Hai Bà Trưng dựng nền độc lập

BàTrưng quê sinh hoạt châu Phong

Giậnngười tham bạo thù ông chồng chẳng quên.

Chịem nặng trĩu một lời nguyền,

Phấtcờ nương tử thay quyền tướng tá quân,

NgànTây nổi áng phong trần,

Ầmầm binh mã xuống ngay gần Long Biên.

Hồngquần nhẹ bức chinh yên,

Đuổingay sơn Định dẹp rã biên thành.

Xem thêm: 12 Bài Văn Bản Ếch Ngồi Đáy Giếng, Bài Học Từ Truyện Ngụ Ngôn Ếch Ngồi Đáy Giếng

Đôkỳ đóng góp cõi Mê Linh,

LĩnhNam riêng biệt một triều đình nước ta.

Bathu đảm đương sơn hà,

Mộtlà báo phục, hai là bá vương.

Uydanh động mang lại Bắc phương,

Hánsai Mã Viện xuất phát tiến công.

HồTây đua mức độ vẫy vùng,

Nữnhi chống với anh hùng được nao?

CấmKhê mang lại lúc hiểm nghèo,

Chịem thất nỗ lực cũng liều cùng với sông.

PhụcBa bắt đầu dựng cột đồng,

Ảiquan truyền lốt biên công cõi ngoài.

TrưngVương vắng mặt còn ai?

Đivề biến hóa mặc bạn Hán quan.

<Đại phái mạnh Quốc Sử Diễn Ca>

TheTrưng Sisters established independence

LadyTrưng hailed from the Phong prefecture.

Enragedby a greedy tyrant và determined lớn avenge her husband,

sheand her younger sister, who shared a solemn oath,

raisedthe lady-general flag asserting their command <7>.

Fromthe west surged wind và dust,

troopsand horses thundered toward Long Biên.

Onhorseback, the ladies agilely deployed their soldiers,

quicklyrouting Su Dinh and flattening his fortress.

MêLinh was lớn become their capital,

andLĩnh nam was where they held their own court.

Forthree years they served the country,

havingboth taken vengeance and ascended the throne.

Theirheroic reputation reached the north

causingthe Han court lớn dispatch Ma Yuan lớn topple them.

InHồ Tây the two sides battled,

buthow could women match seasoned male warriors?

Heldat bay in Cấm Khê,

thedefeated sisters drowned themselves in a river.

TheWave-Calming general <8> erected a bronze pillar <9>

tomark the southernmost border of his country.

WithQueen Trưng gone, who could be counted on?

AHan mandarin would be free to rule the land.

 <Đại Nam’s National History Explained inVerse>



<1>Vietnam was under Chinese rule four times, totaling 1,007 years. The first timelasting 150 years (111 BC – 39 AD) was ended by Queen Trưng Trắc. The secondtime lasting 501 years (43 – 544) was ended by Lý phái nam Đế. The third timelasting 336 years (603 – 939) was ended by Ngô Quyền, and the fourth timelasting đôi mươi years (1407 – 1427) was ended by Lê Lợi.

<2>Lĩnh nam (Lingnan) literally means “south of the mountain range” & is anancient Chinese name for the area that covered China’s Guangdong (Quảng Đông),Guangxi (Quảng Tây) and northern Vietnam.

<3>Lê Văn Hưu was Vietnam’s first historian. At the request of King è cổ Thái Tôn,he became the chief compiler of the 30-volume History of Great Viet (Đại Việt Sử Ký) which was completed in1272.

<4>Ngô Sĩ Liên was asked by King Lê Thánh Tôn to lớn compile the 15-volume Complete Book of History of Great Viet (ĐạiViệt Sử ký kết Toàn Thư) which was completed in 1479.

<5>The French-educated archeologist Phạm Huy Thông (1916-1988) was also a notedpoet and educator. He directed the Institute of Archeology in Hanoi from 1967to 1988.

<6>The Đông đánh culture flourished during the Bronze Age in Vietnam, when thefirst Vietnamese kingdoms named Văn Lang and Âu Lạc existed. Also known as LạcViệt, the Đông đánh people were good at growing rice, raising buffaloes andpigs, fishing, & sailing. They were also skilled bronze casters whose amazingworks included the famous Đông Sơn và Ngọc đồng minh drums.

<7>The image of two brave young women on vị trí cao nhất of elephants leading the troops andraising swords and flags of command is such a sublime icon of heroism!

<8>Wave-Calming is the translation of the honorific title Fu Bo (Phục Ba) that was bestowed upon marshal Ma Yuan when he wasdispatched khổng lồ battle the Trưng sisters.

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<9>Before Ma Yuan returned to lớn China, he had a bronze pillar erected khổng lồ mark thesouthernmost border of China. On the pillar was engraved this haughty warning:“If this pillar breaks, Giao Chỉ willperish.” Giao Chỉ was the name of Vietnam at that time.


HoàngThúc trâm (1941). Dâng hương Miếu Hát.Hanoi: Tri Tân.

HoàngXuân Hãn (1956). Đại phái mạnh quốc sử diễn ca.Saigon: trường Thi.

HuỳnhSanh Thông (1996). An anthology ofVietnamese poems. New Haven và London: Yale University Press.

Taylor,Keith Weller (1983). The birth ofVietnam. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

TrầnThế Pháp (Lê Hữu Mục dịch, 1982). LĩnhNam chích quái. Hoa Kỳ: NXB Trăm Việt.