Early Saturday morning, I was googling for an English translation of a Vietnamese song. I couldn’t find what I was looking for, but I came across Vương Thanh’s translation of Nguyễn Du’s Truyện Kiều. Except for attending an afternoon with Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai in DC, I spent most of my day adding the English translation to my Truyện Kiều page. I also redesigned the webpage and added some illustrations. The most consuming part of the project was trying to match 3,254 lines. Since we are celebrating National Poetry Month, I encourage you to read The Tale of Kiều in Vietnamese or English or both. I must confess that the English version is easier for me to understand. Here are a few opening lines:
Within a hundred-year lifespan in this earthly world,
Genius and Destiny have a tendency to oppose each other.
A turbulent mulberry-field-covered-by-sea period had passed.
The things that we saw still deeply pain our hearts.
It’s not strange that beauty may beget misery.
The jealous gods tend to heap spites on rosy-cheeked beauties.
Turning scented pages of an old volume under an oil lamp,
I started reading a long-ago tale of love and romance.
Translated by Vương Thanh