This little handmade book contains a English translation of a Vietnamese poem from one of the greatest 20th century poets. Hand painted with watercolour and ink, these concertina books are bound with mulberry paper and sealed with copper leaf. 480,000vnd
'Haste' by Xuan Dieu
Life has just begun to burst forth.
I want to seize the clouds and wind,
Drunk with love on butterfly wings.
I want to embrace in an ardent kiss
The mountains, streams, trees, and bright grass
To delight in this world of perfume and light,
To satiate my soul with the prime of life.
O, vermeil spring! I want to bite into thee!
Vietnamese is verbally economical – a language where everything has both secondary and double meanings, a language where the forbidden and the equivocal, can be hidden within the innocent. It is a language suited to politics.
The old poets were all Mandarins, engaged in contemporary politics, and their work almost always had a political dimension (hopelessly lost in translation).
It is important to keep this in mind when you read these poets.
Gentle girls can be interpreted as the country of Vietnam, the seasons are used as metaphors for political conditions, east and west describe other nations or politics. Doors can be entries into other worlds. But not always.