Thứ Tư, 22 tháng 2, 2012


We promise one another /  poems from an  Asian war /
Don Luce introduced ...
                                    A t t i t u d e    t o w a r d    w o m e n 
                                     Vietnamese girl with golden  skin  /  Love her  native village
                                                                    As she loves the fields of ripe rice .
                                                                                ( TRỊNH CÔNG SƠN  ) 

                Foreign  observers are confused by the complexities of Việtnam and disagree on political issues ,  but almost all agree that Vietnamese women among the most beautiful in the world .  Vietnamese men ,  too ,  are proud to the beauty of women of Việtnam .  Poets and songwriters  sing their praises and invoke images of the willow tree  and the peach blossom to portray their grace and softness .  Vietnamese from one region will maintain that their women are prettier than those of another .  Huế girls  are the most beautiful ,  a  citizen of Huế will insist .  " Have you ever seen  thwe school girls of  Đồng Khánh walking along the Sông  Hương ( the  Parfume River )  earing their ' áo dài'  * and holding their palm-leaf hats against the evening sun ?  What could be loveller than that ?".  " No , "  a citizen of  Dalat will disagree .   " Our girls are pretiier for the cool mountain  air puts a flush on their cheeks unknown to the pale girls of Huế . "  " Oh ,  but the girls from Hanoi are the prettiest of all , "  a Northerner will maintain .  " You don't know what you are talking about ."  And so it go on  .

              Vietnamese  women  are respected  for other things ,  besides their delicate beauty .  The tradition of the women warrior is strong in Vietnam ,  stretching back to  43 A.D.  when the  Hai Bà Trưng (  The  Trưng Sisters )  led a revolt against the Chinese .   The following poem by Giang Nam  ,   " Night Crossing , "  yells a peasant girl who rows a boatload of guerrillas across a river in the face  of heavy enenmy gunfire .   Other poems  in this collection such as Lưu Trọng Lư ' s " Women of the South "  and   Tế Hanh ' s  " Girl of the South , "  praise women for their courage on the battefield .

              The war has caused  many changes  in the traditional role of Vietnamese women .  They are becoming increasingly active in society .  Some Vietnamese are afraid that ,  as  Vietnamese women become more active and aggressive ,  they will loose their traditional gentleness and delicacy .  A tendency to idealize women persists and is refelcted in songs and poems like Trịnh Công Sơn  ' s " Girl of Việtnam , "  Vietnamese see Vietnamese women ,  with their traidional grace and modesty ,  as the  embodiment  of much that is good in Vietnamese culture and this helps toexplain the special pain they feel when many American  GI ' s treat all Vietnamese women as if they  were prosititutes .

   (  DON LUCE '  s note  )

*  Traditional Vietnamese dresses consisting of side-slits ,  which are worn over silk trousers.

                             G i r l    o f   V i ệ t n a m                                 
                                    By TRỊNH CÔNG SƠN

 Vietnamese girl  with golden skin
Loves her native village
As she loves the fields of ripe rice ;
Vietnamese girl with golden skin
Loves her native village
Until her eyes fill with tears .
                                        You ' ve never known your village in peace
                                        You ' ve never seen the old Việtnam
                                        You ' ve never once sung a folk song with joy ,
                                        You' ve never known a heart free of hate  .


Vietnamese girl with golden skin
Loves her native village
The weak and poor of the land ;
Vietnamese girl with golden skin
As she once loved me .

                                         Vietnamese girl one day goes to her village ,
                                         She goes in the night ;
                                         The sound of a gun echoes noisily ,
                                         She clutches  her heart suddenly ,
                                         On the fragnant slin of the blood
                                         Spreads slowly from the wound .

Vietnamese girl with golden skin
Carries her dream to her village and dies ;
Vietnamese girl with golden skin
Loved her native village but now is no more .

                                          Oh sorrowful death which wasn ' t  intended ,
                                          Oh my country ,  a thousand years in the dark ,
                                          You came to your native village alone ,
                                          And I ,  I still weep and search for you .


 from "  We promise one another - poems from an Asian war / selected, translated , introduced by
               Don Luce , John C. Schafer & Jacquelyn Chagnon  "  -    Published by The Indochina
               Mobile  Education Project  , Washington, D.C, 1971  ).

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