Chinh phụ ngâm

Lament of a Soldier’s Wife. Written by Đặng Trần Côn (1710-1745) in classical Chinese, then translated into the Vietnamese vernacular.

Stands on one level with “Chanterai por mon corage” and “Valediction Forbidding Mourning,” honestly. Full text

The realm has known three hundred years of peace —
now soldiers don their battle dress once more.
At daybreak, heralds speed them through the mists —
the law outweighs what they may feel inside.

Full armed with bows and arrows, they fare forth,
from wives and children wrenching their numb hearts.
As banners wave and drums resound far off,
grief spreads from chamber door to mountain pass.

Born to a race of heroes, you, my love,
discard your brush and ink for tools of war.
You vow to capture citadels for the throne —
your sword will spare no foe of Heaven’s sway

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