Beyond the Court Gate: Selected Poems of Nguyen Trai

There's a good review of Beyond the Court Gate at The Front Table, website for Seminary Co-op Bookstore in Chicago. Edited and translated by Nguyen Do and me, the book was published by Counterpath Press of Denver earlier this year. Nguyen Trai, 1380-1442, was one of the greatest poets of the history of Vietnam. Instrumental in helping the first Vietnamese dynasty come into power under Le Loi, he was at times banished from court by rivals. Some of this poems therefore reflect the experience of exile and the return to his mountain home at Con Son. Showing a range of expression from the everyday to the philosophical, they are comparable in quality to the work of Chinese Tang Dynasty masters, Li Po and Tu Fu. The book contains poems written in Han (ancient Chinese) and Nom (ancient Vietnamese). Here's a poem in Nom:

I build a little house in the way of nature.
It’s not much, for perfunctory living only.
No windowsill: wind cleans the floor like a sweeping broom.
The moon is close to the door: no need to light a lamp.
Don’t care if dinner is rice with salty pickled vegetables.
Don’t want clothes of embroidered brocade.
To catch its cool shade, I lean against a tree.
The little house whistles a little joy to me.

Here's the link: http://blog.semcoop.com/2010/07/05/beyond-the-court-gate-selected-poems-of-nguyen-trai/

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