This page, according to description given on Facebook, is a “personal blog”. The significance of this “personal” adjective is amorphous. I have not posted much personal information on this blog in the past, and I do not intend to do so in the future. Yet, at the same time, I have never shrugged from posting my personal poetry, through which, according to a traditional Oriental view of poetry’s significance, an astute reader can capture and understand the essence of my character, my ambitions, my strengths and flaws, my very “person”. Yet, I have never viewed myself as a “poet” in the Western sense of an eccentric caricature with crazed eyes and wild hair, prone to flights of fancy and Bohemian lifestyles. The great poets of the Far East were largely occupied with far more serious affairs; they were high officials, reclusive scholars, battle-hardened generals. Poetry was turned to as a medium through which they could give vent to the myriad of worries and cares weighing down on their hearts in a manner both refined and becoming of their masculine bearing. Verse was no frivolous past-time for idle dreamers; it was through the immortality of the written word that their names and characters would be known and judged by future generations. With fear and trembling, I meditate upon volumes of useless words uttered in haste and poor judgement, meaningless rhymes conceived in mediocrity and ignorance. I hope only that history will prove forgiving and spare future readers the occasion of laughing at my feeble pretensions to cultivation and erudition. For the similarly obscure Confucian of a future generation, sufficient to judge my person and know my heart will be the few scattered poems of mixed quality which I have hitherto presented. Disenchanted and disoriented by crude Modernity, with which my consciousness has been unwillingly and hopelessly contaminated, I have sought only to live according to the Way of my forefathers. Let then the understanding souls of both Present and Future pass judgement accordingly.
This blog began as medium through which I solely intended to present the classical Chinese poetry of Vietnamese authors. Since then, the scope of this blog has expanded to including various works of prose of historical importance or simply of my own liking. Yet, including even those works from the early 20th century and my own classical Chinese poetry, I have hitherto been silent on my Vietnamese modernity and post-modernity. Simply put, this blog is outdated and severely limited in its scope and contemporary significance. This blog now has an expanded and international readership; my translations have been printed in weekly newspapers distributed widely in the Southern California region; I have made appearances on various Vietnamese television networks in Texas and California. Pushed rather unknowingly and unexpectedly into the public sphere, I now feel compelled to present my countrymen with works of high quality. This has several implications – first, I will be expanding my posts to include subjects and works relevant to Vietnamese modernism and post-modernism. The revised purpose of this blog is to promote Vietnamese culture in all its myriad time periods and manifestations. Works written in Vietnamese will be translated and annotated in English. Relevant works written in English will be translated and posted in Vietnamese. However, of the frequency of such posts I cannot be sure. I intend to move onto working on publishing printed works alongside online writings which I will continue to make available. Rest assured, translations of classical Chinese works, both verse and prose, will continue on a regular basis – I have collected the classical Chinese poems of a living Vietnamese scholar and will translate and post them in the near future. I hope that the readership will have patience with the rather arbitrary and obscure nature of this blog’s posts – a trilingual blog is a task both to read and to maintain. However, I have a good feeling about this new direction and have high hopes for the projects with which I am presently occupied.
– The illustration is calligraphy of one of my poems, which I wrote previously this year. The calligrapher, who in this work has signed his pen-name as Hòai Chân (懷真) lives in Vietnam.