Phạm Quý Thích – Recording my feelings



Phạm Quý Thích (范貴適 , 1760-1825) was a minister of the Lê dynasty. He was born in the province of Hải Dương. After the collapse of the Lê dynasty and the founding of the Nguyễn dynasty, he was summoned on various occasions by several emperors to serve in the imperial court. These requests he either declined, citing illness, or temporarily undertook before retiring soon after. He spent the remainder of his life in seclusion, teaching in the privacy of his home. Among his students was Nguyễn Văn Siêu (阮文超, 1799-1872), one of the most accomplished poets of the Nguyễn dynasty. Though he did not write poetry in Vietnamese, Phạm Quý Thích was among the first supporters and promoters of Nguyễn Du’s (阮攸, 1766-1820) famous Vietnamese poem, Đoạn Trường Tân Thanh (斷腸新聲). A classical Chinese poem, which he wrote as a preface to one of the first block-printings of this work, is probably his best known work (see above picture). His courtesy name (字, tự) was Dữ Đạo (與道), and his pen names (號 , hiệu) included Lập Trai (立齋) and Thảo Đường cư sĩ (草堂居士). The famous and influential author Phạm Quỳnh (范瓊, 1892-1945) in his posthumously published essays Hoa Đường tùy bút (華堂隨筆) also lists Hoa Đường (華堂) as one of his pen names.



Thư Hoài

Cố quốc san hà dĩ đại thù
Cố viên tùng cúc bán hoang vu
Mang mang thiên địa hoàn bô khách
Nhiễu nhiễu phong trần tự hủ nho
Bệnh cốt bình phân thu lĩnh sấu
Thần tâm nhưng bạn nguyệt luân cô
Hữu nhân khuyến ngã bôi trung thú
Vị vấn Tam Lư khẳng túy vô

Recording my feelings

Mountains and rivers of the old realm have completely changed
In my old garden, the pines and chrysanthemums are half overrun with weeds
In the vastness of heaven and earth, I am once again a lone traveler
Amidst swirling wind and dust a single useless scholar
My sick bones are as haggard as the autumn mountaintop
A servant’s heart’s only companion is the lonely moon
Some recommend me to take pleasure in drink
I ask: Would San Lu ever consent to being drunk?



-San Lu (三閭, Tam Lư) is a reference to Qu-yuan (屈原, Khuất Nguyên, 343-278 B.C.) who famously said “The whole world is polluted, I alone am clean. All men are intoxicated, I alone am alert” (舉世皆濁我獨清眾人皆醉我獨醒, Cử thế giai trọc ngã đọc thanh, chúng nhân giai túy ngã độc tỉnh).


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