Đào Tấn – To the tune of “Hsiao chong shan”

Đào Tấn (陶晉 , 1845-1907) was an Nguyễn dynasty mandarin, poet, and arranger of classical Vietnamese opera. He was born in the province of Bình Định (平定), a descendant of  Đào Duy Từ (陶維慈, 1572-1634), a major military strategist, advisor, and mandarin who achieved great merit in helping lord Nguyễn Phúc Nguyên (阮福源, 1563-1635) establish a stronghold in southern Vietnam immediately preceding the Trịnh-Nguyễn war (鄭阮紛爭, Trịnh-Nguyễn phân tranh) which lasted until the end of the 18th century. His courtesy name (字, tự) was Chỉ Thúc (止叔) and his pen-names (號, hiệu) were Mộng Mai (夢梅) and Mai Tăng (梅僧). His first opera was completed when he only nineteen yeas old and brought him immediate fame.Though remembered today primarily for his operas, the text of which is written in a combination of classical Chinese and Vietnamese, he also left behind a collection of poetry and lyrics (詞, từ) in classical Chinese.




Tiểu trùng san

Nguyệt mãn giang thành thu dạ trường
Tây phong xuy bất đoạn
Quế hoa hương
Bích thiên như thủy lộ hoa lương
Nhân nan kiến
Hữu lệ tại la thường

Hà hử nhạn nam tường
Kham liên nhất phiến ảnh
Lạc Tiêu Tương
Bách niên thân thế phí tư lường
Không hồi thủ
Cố quốc diểu thương mang

To the tune of “Hsiao chong shan”

Moonlight fills the riverside city, the autumn night grows long
The west wind blows without end
Cassia flowers are fragrant
The blue sky is like water, covered in dew, flowers grow cold
Friends are difficult to meet
Tears fall on my thin robes.

To what place do the geese fly south?
How pitiable, this single shadow
Falling along the Hsiao-hsiang river
This lifetime of a hundred years is wasted in anxious worry
In vain turn my head and look back
The old country is lost in a vast haze


– Hsiao chong shan (小重山, Tiểu trùng san), the name of a lyric (詞, từ) originating in the Song (宋, Tống) dynasty

-Hsiao Hsiang (瀟湘, Tiêu Tương) the name of two rivers in China, in poetry used to reference separation and the sorrow of parting.

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