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


'The Sea' by Xuan Dieu

I don't deserve to be the ocean blue

But I want thee to be the white beach sand

The sandy beach stretching calmly its hue

Under the crystal sun. 


The comely beach of yellow sand

Extending to the rows of pine

So dreamily and quietly

For eons by the roaring brine. 


Let me be the clear turquoise swells

That kiss ceaseless thy yellow sand

The gentle kiss that softly dwells

The quiet kiss that has no end.


I will kiss thee again, again

From here clear to eternity

Till none of this wide world remains

Before my heart can beat calmly. 


There're times when I would fain surge in

As if to crush thy edges dear

It's when my billows roar passion

To drown thee in ceaseless love sheer.


I don't deserve to be the ocean blue

But want to be the turquoise sea

To sing eternal songs by thee

In endless love for dear thee true.


So when the foam comes boiling white

And wind gusts in from everywhere,

Insatiably I'll kiss with might

'Cause I love so thy sand edge bare.



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.

'The Sea' - an English translation of Vietnamese Poetry