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阮尚賢詩文選/Nguyễn Thượng Hiền thi văn tuyển/Selected works of Nguyễn Thượng Hiền

ao dai

Nguyễn Thượng Hiền (阮尚賢, 1868-1925), courtesy name (字, tự) Đỉnh Thần (鼎臣) spent the last decade of his life wandering around China, narrowly escaping detection and death on many occasions. When he left Vietnam around 1910, perhaps he did not know that he would never return. His poems from this period of constant travel are at times filled with anger, sorrow, and loneliness but almost always reaffirm his confident hope in a victorious return to Vietnam in the future. As a part of this continuing series of translations from his writing, I have translated three poems written when he was traveling in China. The third of these poems was written before traveling to Hangchow, where he would eventually pass away.

粵東道中得病

病骨逢秋彊自撐
崎嶇山谷事長征
一身於世兼禜辱
萬里何人託死生
殘月鵑聲心易碎
曉霜驢背夢頻驚
敝衫滴徧孤臣淚
猶倚南雲望玉京

Việt Đông đạo trung đắc bệnh

Bệnh cốt phùng thu cưỡng tự sanh
Khi khu sơn cốc sự trường chinh
Nhất thân ư thế kiêm vinh nhục
Vạn lý hà nhân thác tử sinh
Tàn nguyệt quyên thanh tâm dị toái
Hiểu sương lư bối mộng tần kinh
Tệ sam trích biến cô thần lệ
Do ỷ nam vân vọng ngọc kinh
On the road in Yuedong, getting sick

As my sick bones meet autumn, I struggle to push myself
Through winding mountain trails and valleys, I continue my distant journey
In this life, I have experienced by glory and disgrace
Across a ten-thousand miles, with whom can I brave life and death
Under the waning moon, the cuckoo’s cry easily breaks one’s heart
Wandering through the morning mist on a donkey’s back, my dreams are continually disturbed
My tattered robes are soaked with the tears of a lone minister
Yet, I still lean against the southern clouds, gazing towards the imperial capital

述感

匹馬煙塵別舊林
捐軀誓報國恩深
補天填海雖難事
破釜沈舟自壯心
萬里征衫隨雁渡
三更雄劍作龍吟
何時親繫彊胡頸
歸對江山酒滿斟

Thuật cảm

Thất mã yên trần biệt cựu lâm
Quyên khu thệ báo quốc ân thâm
Bổ thiên điền hải tuy nan sự
Phá phủ trầm chu tự tráng tâm
Vạn lý chinh sam tùy nhạn độ
Tam canh hùng kiếm tác long ngâm
Hà thời thân hệ cường hồ cảnh
Quy đối giang sơn tửu mãn châm

Expressing my feelings

On horseback, smoke and dust separate me from my old forest home
Putting myself aside, I have sworn to repay my country’s deep favors
Though patching the sky and filling the ocean are difficult tasks
The strength to crush pots and sink boats comes from my own heroic spirit
Across ten-thousand miles, my traveler’s robes follow the passing geese
In the dead of night, my sword roars like a dragon
When will I be able to tie up the barbarians by the neck
Returning to face my country with wine overflowing from my goblet

自嶺南赴杭寓江邊廢寺

神州莽莽總氛埃
故國蒼天眼未開
遙夜夢回千嶂外
孤臣心死十年來
青衫避地投僧舍
白首思親隔夜臺
誰借東風吹淚盡
狂歌連倒謫仙杯

Tự Lĩnh Nam phó Hàng ngụ giang biên phế tự

Thần châu mãng mãng tổng phân ai
Cố quốc thương thiên nhãn vị khai
Dao dạ mộng hồi thiên chướng ngoại
Cô thần tâm tử thập niên lai
Thanh sam tỵ địa đầu tăng xá
Bạch thủ tư thân cách dạ đài
Thùy tá đông phong xuy lệ tận
Cuồng ca liên đảo trích tiên bôi

From Ling-nan, traveling to Hangchow, staying in an abandoned temple by the riverside

Across the vast sacred land, everywhere is pollution and dust
My old country far-beyond the blue sky, I have not yet opened my eyes
In the long night, my dreams return beyond the endless mountain passes
For ten years, this lone minister’s heart has already been dead
In tattered clothing, I seek refuge in a monk’s dwelling
White-haired, I miss my parents, now separated by the underworld
Who will take the east wind to blow away all my tears
I sing crazily, and tilt the wine goblet of an exiled immortal

Notes:

-Yuedong (粵東, Việt Đông) refers to Kwangtung province (廣東省, Quảng Đông tỉnh) in southern China

– “Patching the sky and filling the ocean” (補天填海, bổ thiên điền hải) refers to performing heroic feats of super-human endeavor

– “Crushing pots and sinking boats” (破釜沈舟, phá phủ trầm chu) refers to military attacks/raids

– “sacred land” (神州, thần châu) refers to China

-“goblet of an exiled immortal” (謫仙杯, trích tiên bôi) is a reference to the Tang dynasty poet, Li Po (李白, 701-762) who was fond of drinking wine

-The illustration is a picture of a mandarin from the Nguyễn dynasty

-These poems have been translated into Vietnamese by the scholar and professor Lê Thước (黎鑠, 1891-1975), pen-name (號. hiệu) Tĩnh Lạc (靜樂). The second poem was translated by Nguyễn Văn Bách (阮文柏, ?-?):

Đi Việt Đông giữa đường mắc bệnh

Bệnh gặp thu qua tự gượng mình
Gập ghềnh hang núi bước lênh đênh
Một thân tầng trải đời vinh nhục
Muôn dặm ai là bạn tử sinh
Tiếng quốc trăng tàn lòng dễ nát
Lưng lừa sương lạnh mộng khôn thành
Cô thần nước mắt dầm tay áo
Theo lớp mây nam ngóng ngọc kinh

Kể lại mối cảm xúc

Vó ngựa lìa rừng gió bụi bay
Dấn thân báo nước trả ơn dầy
Vá trời lấp biển dù gian khó
Phá phủ dìm thuyền vẫn đắm say
Tà áo nhạn đưa muôn dặm vắng
Tiếng gươm rồng hiện khắc canh chầy
Bao giờ trói sạch quân cường bạo
Về viếng non sông chuốc chén đầy

Từ Lĩnh Nam đi Hàng Châu trọ ở ngôi chùa vắng bên sông

Mênh mang cát bụi chốn Thần châu
Nước cũ trời xanh thấy mịt mù
Nghìn lớp non xa đêm mộng tưởng
Mười năm đất khách dạ âu sầu
Áo xanh lánh nạn nơi chùa cũ
Đầu bạc thương người chốn suối sâu
Mượn ngọn gió đông lau giọt lệ
Thơ tiên cao giọng rượu nghiêng bầu

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Nguyễn Thượng Hiền (阮尚賢, 1868-1925), courtesy name (字, tự) Đỉnh Thần (鼎臣), traveled extensively through East Asia and made acquaintance with like-minded revolutionaries in Japan, Korea, and China. Along his travels, he corresponded with both his Vietnamese and non-Vietnamese friends through classical Chinese poetry, which, at the time, was still a shared written lingua franca across China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan.  As a part of this continuing series of translations from his poetry, this post presents several of these poems written for his friends.

 

寄都中諸友

南望浮雲接塞生
春風腸斷越歌聲
五陵知識今誰在
斜日煙花滿舊京

Ký đô trung chư hữu

Nam vọng phù vân tiếp tái sinh
Xuân phong trường đoạn Việt ca thanh
Ngũ lăng tri thức kim thùy tại
Tà nhật yên hoa mãn cựu kinh

Sent to all my friends in the capital

Gazing south, billowing clouds stretch along the frontier
In the spring wind, my heart breaks at the sound of a Việt song
At the Five Tombs, who are left of my acquaintances?
In the setting sun, mist and flowers cover the old capital

陪阮孟孝將軍遊粵東能仁寺

英雄不為一身謀
寶劍雙磨復國讎
遊到淨堂專論殺
山僧不語衹搖頭

Bồi Nguyễn Mạnh Hiếu tướng quân du Việt Đông Năng Nhân tự

Anh hùng bất vị nhất thân mưu
Bảo kiếm song ma phục quốc thù
Du đáo tịnh đường chuyên luận sát
Sơn tăng bất ngữ chỉ dao đầu

Accompanying general Nguyễn Mạnh Hiếu visiting the Năng Nhân temple in Yuedong

A hero does not think only for himself
Together, let us sharpen our swords and avenge the country
Arriving in this pure hall, we discuss killing
The mountain monk is silent, only shaking his head

東海贈章太炎先生

煙濤萬里一虛舟
島國相逢話壯遊
醉把奇書燈下讀
滿天風雨入西樓

Đông Hải tặng Chương Thái Viêm tiên sinh

Yên đào vạn lý nhất hư chu
Đảo quốc tương phùng thoại tráng du
Túy bả kỳ thư đăng hạ độc
Mãn thiên phong vũ nhập tây lâu

On the Eastern sea, given to master Chang Taiyan

Across ten-thousand miles of mists and waves, a single empty boat has floated
Meeting on this island nation, we tell tales of our heroic distant travels
Drunk, we read strange books under the lamp
Wind and rain fill the sky, entering the west tower

柬晉中諸友

虜運潮終落
人心火始燃
居行皆許國
興廢不關天
朔角臨邊月
南車指塞煙
何當引長篲
萬里掃腥羶

Giản Tấn trung chư hữu

Lỗ vận trào chung lạc
Nhân tâm hoả thuỷ nhiên
Cư hành giai hứa quốc
Hưng phế bất quan thiên
Sóc giác lâm biên nguyệt
Nam xa chỉ tái yên
Hà đương dẫn trường tuệ
Vạn lý tảo tinh thiên

Sent to all my friends in Chin

The barbarian’s fortunes are like the receding tide
The people’s hearts are like a first just kindled
Coming and going, all is to serve the country
Rising and falling does not depend on Heaven
The borderland moon shines down on the north
The southern carriage is directed towards the frontier mists
When will I be able to take a long broom
And wipe clean the stench of these beasts across ten-thousand miles

Notes:

– Sent to all my friends in the capital (寄都中諸友, Ký đô trung chư hữu), this poems was most likely written when the author was somewhere in China. The capital most likely refers to the the city of Huế (順化, Thuận Hóa), the capital of the Nguyễn dynasty.

-Five Tombs (五陵, Ngũ lăng) refers to the tombs of the Han emperors in China, but here is used to refer to the imperial city of Vietnam

-Nguyễn Thiện Thuật (阮善述, ?-?), courtesy name (字, tự) Mạnh Hiếu (孟孝) was a native of Hải Dương province (海陽省, Hải Dương tỉnh). He led military campaign against the French for over a decade before fleeing to China after his forces began to weaken.

– master Taiyan (太炎先生, Thái Viêm tiên sinh) was a pen-name (號. hiệu) of Chương Bỉnh Lân (章炳麟, 1868-1936, courtesy name (字, tự )Mai Thúc (枚叔) , a Chinese revolutionary and philosopher.

-island nation (島國, Đảo quốc) refers to Japan, where this poem was written

– Chin (晉, Tấn) refers to modern day Shan-hsi province (山西省, Sơn Tây tỉnh) in northern China

-This poem refers to the author’s plans to take advantage of France’s involvement in the first World War to launch a military strike against them in northern Vietnam. It is possible that it was written late in 1915.

-The illustration is of martial officers and soldiers of the Nguyễn dynasty

-These poems have been translated into Vietnamese by the scholar and professor Lê Thước (黎鑠, 1891-1975), pen-name (號. hiệu) Tĩnh Lạc (靜樂):

Gửi các bạn trong kinh đô

Trời Nam mây nổi ải mơ màng
Ca Việt xuân đưa luống đoạn tràng
Quen biết năm lăng còn mấy kẻ
Kinh xưa phong cảnh bóng tà dương

Cùng tướng quân Nguyễn Mạnh Hiếu chơi chùa Năng Nhân tỉnh Việt Đông

Anh hùng nào phải vị mình đâu
Nợ nước mài gươm quyết trả thù
Tới trước Phật đường bàn chém giết
Sư ông chẳng nói chỉ lay đầu

Tặng Chương Thái Viêm tiên sinh khi ở Đông Hải

Chiếc thuyền muôn dặm sóng tung bay
Đảo quốc cùng nhau kể chuyện hay
Say ghé bên đèn xem sách lạ
Đầy trời mưa gió ngập lầu tây

Gửi các bạn trong đất Tấn

Vận giặc nước đang xuống
Lòng dân lửa mới mồi
Đi ở đều vì nước
Nên hư chẳng tại trời
Cõi bắc bên trăng vẳng
Xe nam rẽ khói bay
Ước sao cầm chổi dài
Quét sạch giống tanh hôi

pic2

Nguyễn Thượng Hiền (阮尚賢, 1868-1925), courtesy name (字, tự) Đỉnh Thần (鼎臣), was not only an important anti-French leader. He was also recognized as an accomplished poet and writer. Part of what makes his poetry and prose so unique is the variety of genres which he uses with mastery. His poetry and prose, in Chinese and Vietnamese, covers a huge range of emotions and affects, from erudite to simple, from taking pleasure in nature to calling for the blood of the French. The following poems, a series of three, are written in the pentasyllabic ancient style poem format (五言古詩, ngũ ngôn cổ thi). This format does not have restrictions of line number, strict rhyme, tonal regularity, strict couplets. Based on the content of the poems, I would date these poems to near the end of Nguyễn Thượng Hiền’s life. He left Vietnam after the 3-year mourning period following his father’s death in 1907. The second poem mentions being separated from Vietnam for “over ten years”, which would date these works to 1920 at the earliest. At this time, he was most likely hiding somewhere in China.

述懷其一

故國音信絕
他鄉儔侶稀
舉頭問青山
吾生將安歸
青山默無語
但見秋雲飛
斜陽復西墜
嘆息掩荆扉

Thuật hoài kỳ nhất

Cố quốc âm tín tuyệt
Tha hương trù lữ hy
Cử đầu vấn thanh sơn
Ngô sinh tương an quy
Thanh sơn mặc vô ngữ
Đãn kiến thu vân phi
Tà dương phục tây truỵ
Thán tức yểm kinh phi

Expressing my feelings

News from the old country is cut-off
In foreign land, friends and companions are few
Raising my head, I ask the green mountains:
To where will my life lead me?
The green mountains are silent without a word
I only see autumn clouds floating by
The slanting sunlight again falls west
With a sigh, I shut the briar door

其二

此身如孤篷
去國十餘載
四顧無相親
登高望天海
寒梅敵雪霜
恃有勁骨在
白髮死天涯
吾心終不悔

Kỳ nhị

Thử thân như cô bồng
Khứ quốc thập dư tải
Tứ cố vô tương thân
Đăng cao vọng thiên hải
Hàn mai địch tuyết sương
Thị hữu kính cốt tại
Bạch phát tử thiên nhai
Ngô tâm chung bất hối

This body is like a lonely raft
Separated from the country for over ten years
Looking all around, I have no companions
Ascending a height, I gaze at the sky and sea
Plum flowers fight against the snow and frost,
Relying on their strong bones
White-haired, dying at the edge of the sky,
I will never feel regret

其三

國讎不可復
天道良悠悠
徒將七尺身
載此百年憂
蒼赤困虐焰
山川亦含羞
寒燈撫劍坐
風雨鳴高秋

Kỳ tam

Quốc thù bất khả phục
Thiên đạo lương du du
Đồ tương thất xích thân
Tải thử bách niên ưu
Thương xích khốn ngược diệm
Sơn xuyên diệc hàm tu
Hàn đăng phủ kiếm toạ
Phong vũ minh cao thu

The country cannot be avenged
The way of Heaven is truly unfathomable
In vain, I have taken this body of seven-feet,
To carry the worries of one hundred years
Young and old suffer alike
Even the mountains and rivers swallow their shame
By the cold lamp, I sit brandishing my sword
Wind and rain roar in late autumn

Notes:

– “body of seven-feet”, (七尺身, thất xích thân) is a standard description of men of heroic stature, different from ordinary people. It should not be taken literally.

-The illustration is a picture of a high-ranking official of the Nguyễn court

-These three poem have been translated into Vietnamese by scholar and professor Lê Thước (黎鑠, 1891-1975), pen-name (號. hiệu) Tĩnh Lạc (靜樂):

I.

Nước nhà tin vắng bặt
Đất khách ít bạn bầu
Nhìn non xanh muốn hỏi
Đời ta sẽ ra sao?
Non xanh im chẳng đáp
Chỉ thấy mây bay cao
Bóng ác non đoài lặn
Than thở khép rèm lau

II.

Thân này tựa cánh buồm trôi
Tính ngày xa nước đã ngoài mười năm
Quanh mình ai kẻ tình thâm
Trông vời trời bể xa xăm dặm trường
Mai già chọi với tuyết sương
Là nhờ khí cốt kiên cường ở trong
Bạc đầu đất khách long đong
Tấm thân dù thác lòng không đổi dời

III.

Thù nước chưa thể trả
Đạo trời lồng lộng cao
Luống đem thân bảy thước
Mang mối lo ngàn thu
Nhân dân đều khốn cực
Sông núi cũng âu sầu
Dưới đèn ngồi vỗ kiếm
Trời thu gió mưa gào

ng thuong hien

Nguyễn Thượng Hiền (阮尚賢, 1868-1925), courtesy name (字, tự) Đỉnh Thần (鼎臣), was an official of the Nguyễn dynasty and anti-French revolutionary. He was a native of modern day Hà Tây province (河西省, Hà Tây tỉnh) of northern Vietnam. Born into an educated family, he passed the first round of the imperial civil service examinations at age 17. However, after the French took control of the imperial court, he refused to serve as an official under the reign of Nguyễn Cảnh Tông (阮景宗, 1864-1889). Eventually, he was summoned out of seclusion and forced to serve the imperial court as an official. He was also married to the daughter of Tôn Thất Thuyết (尊室説, 1839-1913), a leading mandarin in the imperial court of Nguyễn Dực Tông (阮翼宗, 1829-1883) who was famous for leading an anti-French resistance. After the three-year mourning period following his father’s death in 1907, Nguyễn Thượng Hiền left Vietnam to meet and study with other Vietnamese intellectuals in Japan. There he met fellow scholar and revolutionary Phan Bội Châu (潘佩珠, 1867-1940). The two collaborated in directing the Vietnamese Restoration League (越南光復會, Việt Nam Quang Phục Hội) which sought to organize military action against the French in order to retake Vietnam. Unfortunately, Phan Bội Châu was captured and imprisoned in Hong Kong, and the movement fell apart. Nguyễn Thượng Hiền was chased across China by Western authorities and often had to disguise himself as a Chinese man or even woman, to escape detection. He passed away in a Buddhist monastery in the Hangchow (杭州, Hàng Châu) after which he was cremated and his ashes thrown into the river. Because of his precarious situation, he also went by many pen-names (號. hiệu) including Mai Sơn (梅山),  Long Sơn (龍山),  Đỉnh Nam (鼎南),  Đỉnh Nhạc (鼎岳),  Thiếu Mai sơn nhân (少梅山人), Bão Nhiệt  (抱熱), and Giao Chỉ khách (交趾客).  Nguyễn Thượng Hiền was not only an outstanding Vietnamese patriot; he was also famous for being a highly refined poet. His love for Vietnam, his bitterness towards the French, and his vision of a better future for Vietnam shine through his poems. As an homage to him, I will be translating a number of poems from his collection of poems, “Collection of the Southern Branch” (南枝集, Nam Chi tập).

歸里

破國事已定
離鄉心何依
顧此一室在
飄然孤蓬歸
野暝鶴尚立
江寒魚初稀
問訊倚巷叟
黃花開荊扉

Quy lý

Phá quốc sự dĩ định
Ly hương tâm hà y
Cố thử nhất thất tại
Phiêu nhiên cô bồng quy
Dã minh hạc thượng lập
Giang hàn ngư sơ hy
Vấn tấn ỷ hạng tẩu
Hoàng hoa khai kinh phi

Returning to my village

The country’s destruction is already determined
Separated from home, on whom can my heart rely?
Looking back, a single house remains
Lightly, a lonely boat returns
A crane still stands in the darkening fields
The river grows cold, fish become scarce
I ask about my elderly neighbor’s health
Yellow chrysanthemums bloom on the briar door

Notes:

-This poem has been translated into Vietnamese by scholar and professor Lê Thước (黎鑠, 1891-1975), pen-name (號. hiệu) Tĩnh Lạc (靜樂):

Về làng

Mất nước sự đã định
Xa làng lòng bơ vơ
Đoái trông ngôi nhà sót
Nhẹ nhàng chiếc thuyền đưa
Nội tối hạc vẫn đứng
Sông lạnh cá dần thưa
Hỏi thăm ông lão xóm
Cúc vàng nở vườn xưa

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henry darragh's blog

tell her for me

Tương Mai Cư Sĩ

Non non nước nước tình tình

The Sacred at Park Place

Bringing Catholic sacred tradition to the neighborhood at Park Place Blvd.

歸源 (Kuiwon)

Classical Chinese Works Written by Korean Authors Translated - 한시•한문 영역 - 漢詩•漢文 英譯