(ISSN: 1527-5467)
the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.









The translator should be able to penetrate the language barrier, that he could render in translation what is in the original.





SPRING ESSENCE: The poetry of H Xun Hng

Translated by John Balaban



Copper Canyon Press, 2000

ISBN I-55659-I48-9 (pbk. :alk. Paper)

US$15.00, pp138




To bridge the gap between Western literature and Vietnamese literature, a number of translators and established writers has introduced to interested readers their works of translation. One of the most recent books in the field is John Balabans Spring Essence: The poetry of H Xun Hng, an English translation of H Xun Hngs poetry, which introduces a Vietnamese poetess born at the end of the second L Dynasty (1592-1788) The Queen of Nom Poetry and her poems into the Western literary community.

In his introduction, John Balaban, Professor at North Carolina State University, well-known author of many books of poetry, translation, fiction, and non-fiction, has shown his well knowledge of poetess H Xun Hng, her poetry language, the Nm script (as indicated in the Copyright page: translated from the original Nm script), as well as his knowledge of the Vietnams culture and the Vietnamese language. This knowledge results from an acclaimed long-termed study of a scholarly professor; it assured the reader of a good translation of H Xun Hngs poetry. Unfortunately, despite the panting of some Vietnamese educators and the support for a literary attempt from a few Vietnamese magazines abroad, the translation has failed. The translation version produces just a meagre 1/3 accuracy, while at least 3/4 of the version doesnt show H Xun Hngs poetry at all, much less it shows The Queen of Nm Poetry at her best.


H Xun Hng is one of the most distinguished poets of Viet-Nam, even not a great in Vietnamese literature, whose poems were originally written in Nm Script in the end of 18th century, the then Vietnamese writing system which was against the dominance of Chineses, mandatory in schools and government. Despite the fact that H Xun Hngs poetry has been published, republished hundreds of time in a wide range of texts, collections, for education purpose and for the general reader during the last century, her history as well as her original poems are still involving scholars in the dark. In fact, never has there been a record that shows traces of H Xun Hngs poetry committed to writing in her own time (except theres a turn-up of late for a disputable Lu Hng K). Being written in the late eighteenth century her poems, living on in the memory of the people and being conveyed by oral recitation, were introduced to the literary community much later in the early 20th century. The earliest compilation of H Xun Hngs poetry was compiled by Antony Landes in 1893. The typographically printed compilation in National script existed as late as 1913. (Following o Thi Tn, Th H Xun Hng t ci ngun vo th tc H Ni: Nh xut bn Gio Dc, 1996)

Through a hundred years being conveyed by word of mouth H Xun Hngs poetry, of course, is now slightly different from text to text; put aside many other authors poems are attributed to H Xun Hng, which leads to scholarly arguments over the authenticity, resulting in the event that some poems are collected in one collection but omitted in the others. When the poetess biography is still open to dispute, the most agreeable facts among researchers are: H Xun Hng is the daughter of H S Danh (1706-1783) of Qunh i village Ngh An Province, her poems were written in Nm Script during the period from the end of 18th century to the beginning of the 19th, she either married a Mr. Vnh Tܩng or Trn Phc Hin. But in all cases, she was once a secondary wife. Old texts used the word concubine for secondary wife, but this synonym of secondary wife, inflecting complex meanings, has been marked obsolete in many dictionaries. Different meanings of concubine contradict each other, which leads to the unsteadiness of the word, even in its own time: concubine is a woman who cohabits with a man she is not married to, a kept mistress, and concubine is a lawful wife. In the old custom, one Vietnamese man might be legally allowed to marry several wives, and the wives besides his first wife are called secondary wives. Using concubine for secondary wife is considered not correct for now-a-day common English usage.


H Xun Hng was well educated, and had literary relationship with a number of well-known poets and writers in her time. Living in Confucian tradition and in a feudal system where teachings and laws were abused, where the poor as well as women were merely small parts of the social machine without social benefits, she was the only woman heroically marching through history with her witty poems. She knew Chinese characters, of course; but chose Nm to write her poems of realities (opposite to dreams, fictions, theories etc). She raised her voice for her own right to live her life as a Mans, unveiled the then frail, gullible society framed in vicious Confucian morality which fortified a few privileged, and attacked the hypocrisy, which many decades later Walt Whitman of America attempted in his Leaves of Grass. [Quote: but the New World needs poems of realities and science and of the democratic average and basic quality, which shall be greater. In the centre of all, and object of all, stands the Human Being, (David McKay 1900. Leaves of Grass with Autobiography Whitman. A backwards glance oer traveld roads, page 552)].

Most of her poems have two possible meanings, and most of her poems aim at teaching a lesson or mocking, through her art ni li (spoonerism) implying sex. Folk verse and folklore that deal in double meanings for teaching a lesson and amusing or mocking purpose appeared early in Vietnamese culture. Also it did in the Western fables; take sopic Fables, as example. [Quote: In these allegorical tales, the form of the old animistic story is used without any belief in the identity of the personalities of men and animals, but with a conscious double meaning and for the purpose of teaching a lesson. (The Harvard Classics, Folk-lore and Fable, Volume 17, page 2. New York: The Collier Press, 1909)]. In Vietnamese literature, ni li or spoonerism implying sexual meaning for mocking purpose not only appeared in H Xun Hngs poetry, but also in folk verse and in other authors poems. Take Th Thims wedding congratulation miu bt ta, as example. (Following Nguyn Vn Bn, 1983. Vn Ngh Dn Gian; Vit Nam: S vn ha thng tin Qung Nam- Nng. Volume 1, page 468). Thus, it would be too far wide of the mark to consider her poetry, with spoonerism in it, to be merely a kind of poetry for lust, or strong sexual desires. Although some of her poems ably demonstrates her individual longings, her ranging thirst for love, its obvious that she need not use spoonerism or poems with double meaning for these purposes, when the common thirst for true love appears clearly in the poems T Tnh, Ly chng chung, Chic bch, T tnh th֒, and many more. What fascinates the reader is that her spoonerism and her poems with a double meaning are used to attack feudalism, inefficient male authority, ignorant intellects, people of religious society: false monks or nuns, fool creatures, zany characters, the egocentric opposite sex struggling for mastery woman. For men she loves and distrusts or disgusts at the same time, the message of her ni li or her double meaning poems is: I know you well. I know how this means to you. (The scornful message of her time, which is two hundred years ago, turns out to be, alas, the complicity of the 21st century fashionable Western sexuality).

For falsehood, she is a destroyer. In short, for what causing life lifeless she is a mortician.

H Xun Hng, The Queen of Nom Poetry, is now acclaimed as one of the most distinguished poets in Vietnamese literature. Her poems were translated into many foreign languages, including a collection translated into Russian by G. Iaroxlapxep, selected and introduced to Russian readers by N. I. Niculin, which was published in Russia in 1968 (following o Thi Tn, th H Xun Hng t ci ngun vo th tc, Vietnam: Nh xut bn Gio Dc, 1996, page 97). There is a fair amount of her poems translated into English in John Balabans Sping Essence: The Poetry of H Xun Hng, which was introduced to American readers.

Spring Essence: The Poetry of H Xun Hng gains a very warm welcome: more or less 20.000 copies have been sold since the first edition was published in 2000 by Copper Canyon Press, which showed that Professor John Balabans work has proved popular in US literary communities, and in some US universities as well. The literary community is privileged to have H Xun Hngs poetry translated into one of the most powerful international language, by a Western established and well-known poet, author, translator, and educator. There was a great expectation: with years of studying, researching, and seeking help from Vietnamese scholars inland and abroad, the translator had been preparing for a fine, accurate translation version of H Xun Hngs poetry. The help, atlas, is counterproductive.

The danger for a translator is grappling with a foreign language he doesnt master, when the meaning of words, or the meaning of those words in different sentence structures has a tendency to lead him to an unpredictable delirium battle, in which he may get lost. The playfulness of words in any language always, of course, challenges a translator.

John Balabans disadvantage of using Vietnamese shows in his trying to assure the reader of his acquaintance with the language, in the introduction, by literally translating the poem Spring-Watching Pavilion as did Nguyn-Vn-Vnh (1882-1936) when this writer translated Kim-Vn-Kiu by Nguyn-Du (1765-1820) into French. Following are four lines from Nguyn-Vn-Vnhs literal translation given along the translation version of Kim Vn Kiu, taken as an example:


Trm nm trong ci ngܩi ta

Ch ti ch mnh kho l ght nhau

Tri qua mt cuc b du

Nhng iu trng thy m au ǧn lng


Trm (cent) nm (anns) trong (dans) ci (limite) ngܩi (humanit) ta (ntre)

Ch (caractre) ti (talent) ch (caractre) mnh (sort, destine) kho (habile) l (tre) ght (har) nhau (ensemble, rciproquement).

Tri (traverser) qua ( travers) mt (un) cuc (spectacle, ensemble de faits qui senchainent) b (mers) du (mriers)

Nhng (les) iu (choses) trng (regarder) thy (voir) m (produire effet) au ǧn (douleurs) lng (cur).


Cent anns, dans cette limite de notre vie humaine,

Ce quon dsigne par le mot talent et ce quon dsigne par le mot destine, combien ces deux choses se montrent habiles se har, sexclure;

Ayant travers une priode que les potes appellent le temps mis par les mers se transformer en champs de mriers et, rciproquement, les champs de mriers en mers.

Les choses que jai vues mon fait souffrir (ont endolori mon cur).

(Nguyn Vn Vnh, [No date given]. Kim Vn Kiu, traduction en franais. Republished by Khai Tr, Saigon 1970)


Literal translation means to give exactly the same meaning as the original meaning of a word. Yet while using literal translation to give readers the sureness, John Balaban still mistakes the meaning of many words when he understands m i as peaceful, ti= go, chiu m= watch, gm= toll, = easy, n= love, khi vi= all over, no= where. (see John Balabans literal translation of i khn xun, Spring-Watching Pavilion, Spring Essence, page 10). [Note: A literal translation of m i would be gentle, ti=arrive, chiu m= early morning and late evening, gm= to roar, = easy, not easy (in this poem not easy), n= grace, khi vi= hollow out, no= well (exclamation, used to introduce following saying)]. Not understanding the meaning of words leads to not understanding the original and, of course, to unfair translation, lest to say bad translation, which makes it impossible for the original to be introduced to the audience.

Together with not understanding the original (1), the following causes fail at least 2/3 of the translation version Spring Essence:

(2)   not showing H Xun Hngs maliciousness

(3)   not showing H Xun Hngs superiority in her commentary and her sharp tone of voice

(4) losing the double meaning unnecessarily.

What is more, when mistakes make the reader unable to access the original, the translator also misguides them by:

(5) overplaying the sexual meaning of word

(6) perceiving something to be true when it is not..


This writing is not an unfavorable criticism on Spring Essence: The Poetry of H Xun Hng unfavorable criticism is easy to be written, when the art of translation is a great challenge to a translator, and when every literary attempt has a reputation of quality of its own. I only wish to point out mistakes that cause the translation to fail, and to point out the lack of particularity in the judgment the translator passes on the author which gives cause for concern. I will go through six points given above, and give the real meaning of the original lines not by any means its the translation of the lines in square brackets [..].

Besides, I will quote H Xun Hngs poems either from Vietnamese textbooks or collections. Whenever there is a significant difference between the poems published in Vietnamese textbooks or collections and the poems published in Spring Essence it will be noted.




Suffice it to say, John Balaban isnt able to read understandingly the original, which results in the impossibility of a successful translation, and the impossibility of a faithful rendering of H Xun Hngs poetry into English as well, when in a short literal translation he demonstrates numerous errors. These demonstrable errors suggest more errors in the following pages of the book, and Im not surprised to read a number of lines in the English version that did not translate well to the art of translation. I will not, however, collect every error contained in Spring Essence, though Im thorough to observe, and will put aside small features of things. Take, as examples, say li tnh(now drunk now awake) is translated as addled but alert (Spring Essence, page 25), khe(brook) translated as pond (Spring, Essence, page 86), ti cn khn(the bag contains Heaven and Earth) translated as earths bag (Spring Essence, page27), chy knh(a heavy stick made of wood and shaped into a whale, used for hitting the bell in Buddhist temples) translated as the temple drum (Spring Essence, page 81), tang mt(the temple drum) translated as the gong (Spring Essence, page 81), and many more. These errors, and the likes, though betray an unfaithful rendition, hurt not much the original. Also, I will not, as the length of this writing will not allow, go through every translation line in which there is cut or change, i.e. omitting word(s) from the original text or adding new word(s) to it as the translator obviously wants to avoid the language barrier he cannot go through, or wishes to meddle with the meaning of the original he cannot render in his translation. Take, line 1 and line 8 in Confession (I) page 21, line 7 and 8 in Confession (III) page 31, lines 4, 6, 7 in Qun s Pagoda page 81, and many of the like in another poems.

Following are just few examples:


Example (1a)

Autumn Landscape (Spring Essence, page 19)


H Xun Hngs Cnh thu:

Thnh tht tu tiu my git ma

Khen ai kho v cnh tiu s

Xanh om c th trn xoe tn

Trng xa trng giang phng lng t

Bu dc giang sn say chp rܮu

Ti lng phong nguyt nng v th

hay, cnh cng a ngܩi nh,

Ai thy, ai m chng ngn ng.

(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 93)


We see here in this poem, the landscape. Its not only a desolate landscape, but also the real Self of Nature, in the absence of any kind of dream or fiction. A revived brand new landscape, after rain it seems. Few last drips of rain tapping against the banana leaves, the old trees, the long river. And its life. It suggests the landscapes sensibilities, and in the sensibilities of the landscape its enchanting to see how Nature is sensitive to Man. The enchantment of Nature turns up, not because of the poets muse but life, real and whole. And that life the poet is possessed of the wind and the moon in her bag, rivers and mountains in her gourd. She is actually living, enjoying the joy and the freedom of a living creature in a living Nature. Feeling this sense of freedom, freedom to live, freedom to love, which is the main theme of the poem, is really seeing the author as she works out the central concept through her attack against society afterwards. For H Xun Hng freedom is Life. There is no Life if there is no freedom. This freedom Man possesses; but, at the same time, it has been taken away by Man.

Like the poets gourd (dry shell of the gourd, bottle-shaped, used for holding wine) containing rivers and mountains, her bag contains no impedimenta, but some books, pens, and the likes her leisured life-style, more moon and wind than anything else (fig.). Ti lng phong nguyt means she carries the bag almost full (lng) of moon and wind. Ti lng is the bags almost full (of somthing), not the backpack (a pack carried on ones back). John Balabans My backpack, breathing moonlight, sags with poems (Spring Essence, page 19), is not the translation of ti lng phong nguyt nng v th. In Spring Essence we can see many translation lines of this sort, with cut and change, and meddling. Line 7 and line 8 in the original imply the communication between Man and Nature. The translation of line 7 is hopelessly inefficient at conveying the right meaning. What is more, the key word of the poem ngn ng at the end of the last line, an immutable word, which evokes and prolongs the soul of the poem, is imperfectly translated. Stunned, if not a wrongly selected adjective for ngn ng in line 7, its only aptly for the translators imagination as the above actual landscape suggests a sexual landscape. Somewhere, he says: her landscapes are seldom innocent (Spring Essence, pages 11-12). With his imagination of a sexual landscape, and with stunned and its sound, the translator puts a full stop at the end of the poem. There is no more echo. The communication is dead.

Look, and love everyone.

Whoever sees this landscape is stunned.

(Spring Essence, Autumn landscape, page 19)

Line 7 in literal translation: hay(exclamation used to express surprise)= Oh; cnh= landscape; cng= also; a= to love, to be fond of; ngܩi=Man. In line 8: ngn ng֒=perplex, indecisive, dreamy.

Line 7 means the landscape is sensitive to Man.

Example (1b)

Confession (III) (Spring Essence, page 31)


H Xun Hngs Chic bch:

Chic bch bun v phn ni nnh

Gia ging ngao ngn ni lnh nh.

Lng khoan tnh ngha dܩng lai lng,

Na mn phong ba lung bp bnh.

Cho li mc ai lm ǰ bn,

Giong lo thy k rp xui ghnh.

y ai thm vn cam lng vy,

Ngn ni m n nhng tp tnh.


(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 126)


The poem is about a widow who wants to imitate Princess Cung-Khuong refusing to remarry. But fate may not let her doing so. Line 3 implies her love still remains with her late husband, but (line 4) life storms (fig.) keeps pushing her (the boat) drifting and unsafe (line 7, and 8). Thm vn in line 7 is a metaphor for to take a new wife; m n in line 8 is a metaphor for to take a husband.

Ai in line 7 is not who, or whoever. It is a pronoun used in an expression in which the subject is left to be understood, referring to a person the speaker wants to mention, it may be you, or he, or even the speaker himself. The common phrase ai bit u y doesnt mean who knows or whoever knows; it means I dont know. Thus, ai in line 7 implies the man who wants to marry her (who should cam lng / content himself with her decision not to remarry vy/ instead). Vy in this line by no means echoes vy or never to remarry as the translator remarks in the endnote to the poem (page 119).

Not understanding Thm vn and m n in lines 7 and 8, John Balaban confuses the reader by conveying a meaning that contradicts the meaning of the whole poem:

Whoever comes on board is pleased

as she plucks her guitar, sad and drifting.

(Spring Essence, Confession (III), page 31)


Example (1c)

The Floating cake (Spring Essence, page 33)


H Xun Hngs Bnh tri nܧc:

Thn em va trng li va trn

By ni ba chm vi nܧc non

To nh mc d tay k nn

M em vn gi tm lng son.

(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 84)


Note: Line 1 and 2 in Spring Essence:

Thn em th trng, phn em trn

By ni ba chm my nܧc non. (page 32).


This poem is about the floating cake. But it also implies the womans fate. In the line 2, my is with, nܧc non is rivers and mountains, means nation. Nܧc non has a double meaning: nܧc non=nation, and nܧc non=water (non in the latter is only a parenthetic word which is added to nܧc and is assigned no meaning). The first meaning of by ni ba chm vi nܧc non is that the cake is rising and sinking in the water. The second meaning implies the womans fate being shaped, controlled by her society, or implies a persons fate, which depends completely on his nation, is ill fated like his nations. Without understanding the line, especially the word my= with (vi), the translator suggests a translation unexpectedly incorrect for line 2:

rising and sinking like mountains in streams.

(Spring Essence, page 33, line 2).


Example (1d)

Tavern by a Mountain Stream (Spring Essence, page 41)


H Xun Hngs Qun nܧc bn ܩng:

ng tro trng theo cnh ht heo

ܩng i thin tho, qun cheo leo.

Lp lu, mi c tranh x xc,

X k, ko tre t khng kheo

Ba trc cy xanh hnh un o

Mt ging nܧc bic c leo teo

Th vui qun c nim lo c

Ka ci diu ai th ln lo.


(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 108)


The poem is titled Qun nܧc bn ܩng, Qun khch, or Qun khnh in different collections. In Spring Essence, Vnh hng Thanh (page 40). Whichever title is selected, the poem is about a small, simple hut which serves as a tea shop by the roadside.

Line 3 and line 4 describe the small hut: covering the hut is the tattered grass roof; its short drafters are pieces of skeletal bamboo with one end inserted into a gap. Line 5 and line 6 describe the landscape about the hut: green trees with its wriggling branches, the stream of blue water with sparse grass in it.

(Literal translation of words in line 4: x = insert, k= gap, x k= to insert (something) into a gap, ko tre=short bamboo drafter, t khng khiu= skeletal section).

Put aside cut and change in line 1 ng cho turns into another word in the translation: leaning out, and cnh ht hiu into the valley, the lines 3, 4, 5, and 6 above-mentioned are not correctly translated. In fact, the translator meddles with these original lines, depicting a quite different picture:

thatch roof tattered and decayed.

Bamboo poles on gnarled pilings


bridge the green stream uncurling

little tufts in the wavering current.

(Spring Essence, Tavern by a Mountain Stream, page 41)


Example (1e)

On a Portrait of Two Beauties (Spring Essence, page 51)


Line 3, 4 in H Xun Hngs Tranh hai t n:

i la nh in t giy trng

Nghn nm cn mi ci xun xanh.

(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 121)

Line 3 in Spring Essence:

Trm v nh in t giy trng. (Spring Essence, page 50).


[Hundred looks of beauty seems to be printed on the white paper. Their spring youth will stay for thousands of year.]

Trm vȒ = Hundred looks (of beauty)

Mistake is made in line 3. The translator fails to understand the meaning of trm vȒ, and suggests a reading for line 3 and line 4 which exhibits both the obscurity and the weakness of the translation:

In 100 years, smooth as two sheets of paper.

In 1,000, they still will glow like springtime.

(Spring Essence, page 51, lines 3 and 4)


Example (1f)

The Unwed Mother (Spring Essence, page 53)


Line 3, 4, 5, and 6 in H Xun Hngs Cha Hoang:

Duyn thin cha thy nh u dc

Phn liu sao ny nt ngang

Ci ti trm nm chng chu gnh

Ch tnh mt khi thip xin mang.

(Qunh C Vn Lang Nguyn Anh, 1998. Danh Nhn t Vit, Volume 3, pages 337,338).

Line 5 in Spring Essence:

Ci ti trm nm chng chu c. (Spring Essence, page 52)


The meaning of lines 3, 4, 5, and 6: [Having no husband, yet Im pregnant. You are guilty of the sin of what you had done (the sin against conjugality), but Im to bear our love burden.]


Line 5 and line 6 are translated as:

He will carry it a hundred years

but I must bear the burden now.

(Spring Essence, page 53, line 5-6)


The translation of line 5 fails to convey the meaning from the original. Trm nm in ci ti trm nm chng chu c, standing after the noun ci ti, is used as a metaphor to mean sut c ǩi ngܩi (ni v tnh ngha v chng)--the whole of a lifetime (of relationship between husband and wife). [T in ting Vit/ Vietnamese dictionary by Hong Ph, 8th edition, VN: Nng Publisher 2000, page 1026]. Besides, the meaninglessness of the translation of line 5 obstructs the reader, and ch tnh not translated causes the translation of line 6 to be flat and simple.

Example (1g)

Girl without a Sex (Spring Essence, page 59)


Line 1, 2, 3, and 4 in H Xun Hngs Vnh n v m:

Mܩi hai b m ght chi nhau

em ci xun tnh vt b u

Rc rch thy cha con chut nht

Vo ve mc m ci ong bu.

(o Thi Tn 1996, 209. Th H Xun hng t cI ngun vo th tc. H Ni: Nh xut bn Gio Dc,)

Thy cha or mc m means not caring about / who care/ doesnt care. Thus, rc rch thy cha con chut nhc and vo ve mc m ci ong bu means doesnt care about the mouse squeaking and doesnt care about the bumblebee buzzing. John Balaban mangles the original when he understands thy cha con chut nhc and mc m ci ong bu as the little father mouse, and the mother honeybee, and lines 3 and 4 are translated as:

The little father mouse squeaking about, doesnt care,

nor the mother honeybee buzzing along, fat with pollen.

(Spring Essence. Page 59, lines 3,4)


Example (1h)

Buddhist Nun (Spring Essence page 83)


Line 1 and 2 in H Xun Hngs Vnh ni s:

Xut th hng nhan k cng nhiu

Ln vng phu ph my l kiu.

(Spring Essence, page 82)

are translated as:

Many pink-cheeked girls abandon the world.

Many vain spouses break their marriage vows.

(Spring Essence. Page 83, lines 1 and 2)


Ln vng phu ph doesnt in any sense mean break their marriage vows. It means to try living without relationship between a woman and a man as husband and wife. But, this definition may lead to opposite meaning in now-a-day mass culture where a man and a woman can still have sex without marriage relationship. In the old times, when sex outside marriage was strongly considered a sin in Vietnamese culture, living without relationship between a man and a woman as husband and wife meant trying to break way from the way of life refusing to marry and have sex. Thus, ln vng phu ph my l kiu means But living without conjugal relationship they are unusually able women. Ln vng phu ph once appeared in CUNG ON NGM KHC by n-Nh Hu Nguyn Gia Thiu (1741-1798).

cng rp ra ngoi o ch

Quyt ln vng phu ph cho cam

Ai ng tri chng cho lm

Quyt em giy thm m giam bng o.

(Vn Bnh Tn Tht Lng [No date given]. n Nh Hu Cung On Ngm Khc. US: republished by Zieleks Co.)

[I just want to get free from the Heavens proposal, to break away from the relationship between a man and a woman as husband and wife. But, unexpectedly, Heaven let not me do it, using the pink thread (ch thm or ch hng, a metaphor for marriage) to lock me (bng o, a metaphor for woman) in marriage.]

Mistake in line 2 also throws line 3 into ruin.

(Read Buddhist Nun, Spring Essence, page 83.)


Example (1i)

Old Pagoda (Spring Essence, page 87)


H Xun Hngs Cha xa:

Thy t thung dung do cnh cha

Th th lng ti, rܮu lng h.

C khe lng k, mang nghi ngp;

Chim ni nghe kinh, c gt g.

Then ca t bi chen cht cnh,

Nn hng t Ƕ cm y l.

Nam m kh hi nh s t

Phc c nh ng ܮc my b.

(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 107)

At the pagoda, the poet feels nothing but the scorn for the monk who feels virtuous but is of no virtue. The meaning of line 7, and line 8 is: [Respectful monk, may I ask you a little: Of your virtue, how many bamboo baskets do you have?]

Mistaking the meaning of the words Nam m, , John Balaban wrongly translates line 7, and 8:

Buddha asks so little of his monks.

Blessed, they gather many friends.

(Spring Essence, page 87, lines 7 & 8)

Nam m is a Buddihsms term, meaning Homage to. It comes from Nam m Pht = Homage to Buddha, or Nam m A Di Pht = Homage to Amida Buddha. Nam m Pht or Nam m A Di Pht is often practiced in the Buddhists circle as greetings with deep respect shown for a master, a monk, or a co-religionist. Phc c is virtue. B is bamboo basket. B also means friend, boy friend, or girl friend, but only a South Vietnam dialect which doesnt exit in the North and Central Viet-Nam. B with double meaning is obviously not for this poem, as H Xun Hng was born in Ngh An, living in the North.

In the endnotes to Old Pagoda, the translator says: [Quote: Many friends in the last line has a hint of licentious sarcasm (Spring Essence, page 126)]. This kind of posturing also appears in page 122 as he follows Ng Thanh Nhn: [(Quote: Enjoying Spring (Xun), do you really know Spring (Xun), or is it a matter of swingposts removed, leaving the hole bare? (Spring Essence, page 122)].


Example (1j)

Trn Quc Temple (Spring Essence, page 93)


Line 3,4, 5, and 6 in H Xun Hngs n Trn Quc:

Mt ta sen lt hi hng ng

Nm thc my phong im o chu

Lp sng ph hng coi vn rn

Chung hi kim c lng cng mau

(Nguyn Vn Hanh [No date given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti, page 99, lines: 3, 4, 5, 6)


Line 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Spring Essence:

Mt ta sen ta hi hng ng

Nm thc my phong np o chu

Lp sng ph hng coi vn rn

Chung hi kim c lng cng mau

(Spring Essence, page 92)


[Round the Lotus Seat seems still lingering the incense the King had burned. A five-coloured cloud evokes memories of the mandarins robes. The falling and rising waves of decadence and prosperity have never ceased. The bell (of the present, which echoes that of the past) is hurriedly fading away.]

o chu= mandarins robe, not the kings robe as the translator understands, Ph hng= decadence and prosperity, Lp sng ph hng= waves of decadence and prosperity, Hi chung kim c= the bell (of the present and the past).

John Balaban translates incorrectly four lines above-mentioned:


No incense swirls the Lotus Seat

curling across the kings robes


rising and falling wave upon wave.

A bell tolls. The past fades further.

(Spring Essence, page 93. Trn Quc Temple).




H Xun Hngs maliciousness, witticism, her technical skill of language, besides her literary talent, are contributing factors which make her The Queen of Nm Poetry. Failing to convey these factors to the translation, even when translation bearing no error, the translator can hardly introduce H Xun Hng to his audience. Yet while John Balaban is well aware of that, H Xun Hngs style seems only appeared in few lines through out his whole book of translation. Without H Xun Hngs maliciousness and witticism, the translation version will turn out to be shallow a kind of poetry. Take the following poem as example. Mi tru has only four lines. But there is a clever game being played here, in the second line.


H Xun Hngs Mi tru: (lines 1,2)

Qu cau nho nh ming tru i

Ny ca Xun Hng mi quyt ri.

(o Thi Tn 1996, 168. Th H Xun Hng t cI ngun vo th tc. H Ni: Nh xut bn Gio Dc).


The cunning Ny ca Xun Hng in line 2 Ny ca Xun Hng mi quyt ri is lost in the translation:

Here, Xun Hng has smeared it.

(Spring Essence, page 23, line 2.)

Ny ca Xun Hng mi quyt ri has a double meaning: Here, the betel leaf Xun Hng has just smeared (with lime paste), and words are here playing game. English, of course, is able to cope with it: [This here Xun Hngs smeared].

In the above-instanced line, words are playing game in three different ways, and one or two may convey a sense of Xun Hngs cleverness:

This here Xun Hng has smeared. (the betel leaf here)

This here Xun Hng has smeared. (here understood vulgarly).

This here Xun Hngs smeared. (here used adjectively, and (s) could be understood as thing belongs to (the stated person), although its formally used to mean house or shop belonging to).

This here Xun Hng is smeared. (not applied to the original, this is only showing how the words in the line are playing.)



H Xun Hng possesses a disdain for male authority. The words gentlemen, learned men in her poems she uses with a scornful tone. Her attitude is shown in the poems Ct ng Chiu H, Vnh c nhi, Qu mt, Vnh dng vt, Vnh NJn Sm Nghi ng. In Vnh dng vt H Xun Hng compares the male member with a French gendarme. In Ct ng Chiu H, she attacks man with her sharp tongue:

Ny ny ch bo cho m bit

Chn y hang hm ch m tay .

(o Thi Tn 1996, 168. Th H Xun Hng t cI ngun vo th tc. H Ni: Nh xut bn Gio Dc).


[Say, let me tell you something:

Its the tigers cave; dont stick your hand in!]

Her sharp tongue and her sense of superiority seem not to reflect in John Balabans translation:

Perhaps theres something I ought to say:

Dont stick your hand in the tigers cave.

(Spring Essence, page 43, lines 3,4)

There are cut and change. Perhaps is a change; ny ny a cut. Change and cut weaken the authors sense of superiority.




Somewhere, John Balaban shows his skill when he adds words to where needs be, without cut or change, like in the poem Qu mt/ Jackfruit (Spring Essence, page 37). In line 3, with your he adds the word stick is made to have a double meaning:

Kind sir, if you love me, pierce me with your stick.

(Spring Essence, page 37, line 3)

But when he adds a word the author intends to leave out, in other poem, he loses the double meaning unnecessarily. In the original Vnh qut giy, the word nan= rib which is intentionally left out to personify the fan, is used again in the translation as seen in line 2. (Spring Essence, page 61, line 2).

Ribs left understood in the original has the reader wondering if the fan could be personified in the translation.


II) When mistakes, cuts, and changes make the reader unable to access the original, the translator also misguides them by:



While its interesting to observe how H Xun Hng is clever in using her spoonerism and her poems with double meaning as a weapon to attack, the reader also feels they have to go through all the palaver when sexual words hidden in spoonerism are stripped naked in the translators introduction and endnotes. Put aside the overproduced explication that makes the book is more of a textbook than a literary translation, the translator explicates the authors poems and her art of ni li in a way that is convoluted when he gives a crossed intricately ni li and phrase reversals, and the tonal echo of word which, of course as he wished, implies sex or love. It results in the readers confusion. The reader would not understand how ni li (explained as phrase reversals) works, nor would the reader understand why should exist all over the original such tonal echo implying sexual meaning the way the translator points out. Take, as example, the word eo(to carry) sounds a tonal echo of different word to him. Similarly, xut th sounds xut th. The translators imagination at some point goes too far, when he reads vertically some poems to find implicit meaning he believes the author intends.

Ni li is one thing; phrase reversals is another which never appeared in H Xun Hngs poetry. The art ni liin H Xun Hngs is quite similar to spoonerism in English. In spoonerism, the first sounds of two or more words are exchanged, mistakenly or intentionally, in speaking. In Vietnamese it is the art of transposition of the last sounds of two or more words to produce a second intended meaning. Ni li, spoonerism, is popular in the past time, but now rare. Examples of spoonerism in folksong:

C c u m anh ngi cu

Bit c khng m cng kh anh i.

(following Tn Tht Bnh, Dn ca Bnh Tr Thin, Hu: Nh xut bn Thun Ha, 1997, page 95)

cu is a spoonerised version of c u

cng kh is a spoonerised version of c khng

During the course of French domination, Vietnamese students even played spoonerism when speaking French. Take, for example, trs chaud (very hot) is a spoonerised version of trop chre (too expensive).

And the tonal echo. Obviously, there are like-sounding words in speaking or writing, prose or verse, in any language. Also, there are homographs, homonyms, and homophones with manifold meaning that suggests different things. But the sentence structure is other consideration. The meaning of a word is secured by the sentence structure, and is enforced by others, which makes the word stay with a certain meaning in a certain way. Take, as example, She had it. The phrase has three meanings, which will be enforced by other words for a particular meaning the author intends: She had it in her purse (the key, for example, was in her purse), she had it last night (sexual intercourse), she really had it (sex appeal). Or, take Brave New World, title of a book by Aldous Huxley published in 1932. In literal translation, brave is courageous, or fine, good. When its true that brave in the structure brave new world cannot be courageous, it still suggests this meaning to certain readers. But whatever the meaning the word brave may suggest, new which follows immediately after it cancels out the meanings courageous and fine or good, enforcing the meaning of brave new, which is completely new. Particularly interested in a special meaning one reader still may want to understand brave as courageous as so it appears to him at the first time or he may want to understand it as fine or good with doubt that it can be depend upon he favouring the new world or not, which is just his imagination. In poetry reading, particularly interested in a special meaning a reader is especially illogically vulnerable to attack from his imagination, rather than logically sensitive to the imagery in the poem. Same thing happens with a translator or critic, who would produce an incorrect translation, or a superb analysis of his exaggeration. John Balaban lets his imagination go too far when he says: [Quote: And since like-sounding words can mean vastly different things, a whole world of double meanings also is possible in any poem (Spring Essence, page 11)], and states that eo(to carry or to bear) sounds to copulate. The statement makes me wonder since an actual landscape in the original always suggested a sexual landscape to the translator, and every sexual like-sounding word suggested a sexual meaning if the word o in the following famous folksong, which also appeared in o Ba Di, possibly has a tonal echo implying a different meaning.

Chiu chiu dt m qua o

Chim ku bn n, vܮn tro bn t.

[Walking Mother through the pass every evening

There birds singing, and there gibbons climbing].


What is more, words in Vietnamese are monosyllables. The five tone marks make every monosyllabic word five or six completely different words including the word without tone mark, which sound at a particular level, have its own pitch value, and may be compared to the musical notes in a musical scale. La is one note; l is another note. Still, la is one word; l is another word. L is not a stressed version of la. In Vietnamese poetry, tone-marked monosyllables, considered as musical notes, capture exactly the poems pattern, or decide the sound pattern of a poem, and the music of pitches in every poem, not vice-versa. In English, its the metrical pattern, or the meaning of the verse, or a particular sense, that decides a syllable should be stressed or unstressed. Take, as examples, level stress, hovering stress, logical stress (rhetorical or sense stress). The variable syllable in English is a syllable which may be stressed or unstressed according to the need of the metrical pattern (even English poetry has mostly escaped the traditional metrics of the distant past before 6th century). John Balaban may believe tone-marked words in Vietnamese could be compared to stressed or unstressed syllables in English, and he imagines: (Quote: With a music of pitches inherent in every poem, an entire dynamic of sound inoperable in English comes to play (Spring Essence, page 11).

From the translators purposefulness his explication of tonal echo, his reading vertically the lines, and his posturing (as seen below), the reader is under the mistaken impression that H Xun Hngs poems are obviously smeared with obscene language, which is opposite to what the translator somewhere notes: the obscene secondary meaning must never appear obvious (Spring Essence, page 12, line 1,2).




Like every translator making no mistake about his knowledge of a foreign culture and language often makes mistakes, John Balaban does, especially when he goes far off the field of translation, to another field for which he needs more reference materials. In his introduction, he says that rhymes in a lu-shih. must be bnh, or even tones. (Quote: Rhyme words must be bnh, or even tones (Spring Essence, page 12). In fact, in lu-shih, rhyme words could also be sharp tones. Take, for example, D qui [Coming home at midnight] of Chinese poet Ph (712-770):

D bn qui lai xung h qu

Sn hc gia trung d min nga

Bng kin bc u hܧng giang

Ngܫng khan minh tinh ng khng i

nh tin b chc sn lܫng c

Gip khu kinh vin vn nht c

Bch u lo bi v phc ca

Trܮng l bt try, thy nng n?

(Phm Doanh 1999, page 310. Th Ph, th ܩng tuyn dch, Tp I. US: Dam Ninh, Inc.,)


Besides, he obsviously imposes his imagination on where the particularity needs to be, or takes some special opinions that make him believe something to be true when its not, which, on one hand, blocks the way to a better understanding of the original, on the other it shows, unnecessarily, the translators weakness of reason when following odd and old texts or some pieces of advice that is just a matter of opinion. Take, as example, John Balaban says in his endnotes to Confession (II): a drumbeat is sounded through the required end rhymes (dn, non, trn, hn, con con) as well as some internal echoes (hng, bng, xun, xan or san (Spring Essence, page 117), and says that in line 4 the poetess plays on her family name, and in line 7 her name. The above remarks arent very convincing. Onomatopoeia is commonly used to achieve a special effect, but H Xun Hng doesnt need the drumbeat rumbling through the end rhymes, and the onomatopoetic rhythms to express her sad feelings in a desolate night. Indeed, there is a drumbeat echoing at the end of the first line, but it was immediately canceled out by the sound and the meaning of the following word tr= lonely, motionless, still at the very beginning of the second line. And it comes as a surprise to me when the translator assumes that H Xun Hng plays on her family name and her name in line 4 and line 7. Vng trng bng x, trng bng x, xun i xun li are old clichs in Vietnamese writing and speaking, and of course, the author neednt use old clichs to play the game. And as true as John Balaban mentions, to play on her family name H she must play with the words c(old) and nguyt(moon). The word x in the line 4 is not c(old), its inclining; trng x is setting moon. The posturing is seen in many more endnotes. Take, as examples, John Balaban gives endnote to The Unwed Mother: [Quote: Additionally, u dc in line 3 means head, implying a birth (Spring Essence, page 121)], and [Quote: For peasants, socially far more free in sexual encounters, theres a folk proverb that H Xun Hng seems to support: Khng chng m cha mi ngoan/ c chng m cha th gian s thܩng (Spring Essence, page 121)]; to Swinging: [Quote: Ng Thanh Nhn points out that the last two lines can be read: Enjoying Spring (Xun), do you really know Spring (Xun), or is it just a matter of swingposts removed, leaving the holes bares. (Spring Essence, page 122)]; to The pharmacists widow mourns his death: [Quote: The woman is a thip, or lower category of concubine (Spring Essence, page 123)]; and to Old Pagoda: [Quote: Many friends in the last line has a hint of licentious sarcasm (Spring Essence, page 126)].

Put aside head, or birth John Balaban believes u dc implies in the line 3 of The Unwed Mother, which will give line 3 and line 4 a logical contradiction, sexual encounters couldnt by his imagination be socially far more free for peasants. [Quote: For peasants, socially far more free in sexual encounters (Spring Essence, page 121)]. Encounters between young sexes are encouraged for marriage purpose, but sexual encounters arent. There seems to have a sense of mockery (not support) in the line 8 of the poem, and in the proverb John Balaban mentions above as well. Still, there is another proverb which is cruel the way it mocks at the unwed mother, like a prostitute: M ng mn cha hoang/ Cho lng bt v/ Cho x np cheo (following inh Gia Khnh-Chu Xun Din, Vn Hc Dn Gian, tp 2, Nh xut bn i hc v Trung hc chuyn nghip, H Ni 1977, page 278). In the endnote to Swinging, (Xun) in round brackets may have an allusion to the authors name, and obviously it imposes on chi xun a hint: to make Xun or to have sex with Xun (chi has a double meaning: to play and to make, to have sex with). In fact, chi xun, a clich, could be found in folkverse: thng by ti i chi xun/ y lp hi trng qun ti vo (following inh Gia Khnh - Chu Xun Din, Vn Hc Dn Gian, Tp 2, H-Ni: Nh xut bn i hc v Trung hc Chuyn nghip, 1977).Chi xun also appeared in Nguyn Khuyns poetry: Chi xun ko ht xun i, ci gi xng xc n th theo sau. (Nguyn Khuyn -1835-1910). In The Pharmacists Widow Mourns His Death thip doesnt mean concubine; its a pronoun which represents the speaker who is a wife or a woman speaking to her husband (chng, pronoun, refers to her husband in this poem) or to a man. In Old Pagoda, many friends is a wrong translation version of my b which means how many bamboo baskets (explained previously).


In some ways, his imagination and his posturing is to support his idea of repressed sexuality in H Xun Hngs poetry. Obviously, as seen in page 35, when he uses screw (a curse, but also a sex taboo slang) to translate chm cha (a curse) in Ly chng chung, John Balaban has been tempted to seize every single opportunity to intimate the sense of sexuality. Despite being aware of many dangers for a translator of H Xun Hng (Spring Essence, page 11), he is driving the original too far toward one pole of meaning (Spring Essence, page 11).



a tay vi th tri cao thp

Xoc cng o xem t vn di!


[I raised my hand trying for the height of Heaven

Spread wide my legs measuring the Earths length.]


The young lady H Xun Hng, daughter of H S Danh of Qunh i Village said out loud the above improvised poetry lines right at the moment she pulled herself up in an attitude of complete self-assurance, after her slipping and falling onto the ground, before the eyes of her teenaged friends standing round laughing.

The staunch spirit of the young beauty had prefigured a heavy storm going to hit the solid wall of the feudal system in Viet-Nam at the turn of the 18th century.

Not long afterwards, the prefigured storm came into existence. Her poems, lines after lines, as a sharp sword, were slashing across the amoral ideology and the social etiquette that had stopped her to get to her real life. Her sharp sword slashed across the faces of men of authority, attacking the ignorant intellects, the assumed moral and ethical people, piercing the Confucians temples, mocking the religious men and women with hammy performance in Buddhist churches. As a revolutionist, she marches through life heroically. As a destroyer, she smears with dirt peoples in business of monitoring and controlling others for their own benefits, marks them face-besmeared. And, of course, to throw mud onto the face of the then society her hands must be smeared with mud. Spoonerism enters her poems with sexual language. Lifeful words enter her poems now teasing lustful men now mocking the learned:


Mt n thng ngng ng xem chung

Chng bo nhau rng: y i ung

[A bunch of stutterers stood looking at the bell

They said to each other: ook ik ur el*]

*Look, its the bell.


ook ik ur el. For the first time in the Vietnamese poetry history H Xun Hng breaks words into pieces, which serves her purpose; never she minds the awfulness making her lines nonsense verse, much less the obscene spoonerism. (Nosense verse in the West could be traced back as far as to circa 1765 when Mother Gooses Melody was published). All these facts John Balaban knows very well through his long-termed and careful study on H Xun Hng as shown in his introduction. [(Quote: her literary pen might be read more accurately as defiance rather than as a psychosexual malady. (Spring Essence page 5)]. But still, his explication shows great interest in drawing the reader towards the vapid fashionable Western sexuality.

To translate, however, is not to explicate. To explicate clearly the original is fine for the readers privilege of understanding profoundly the author and the original. But if the translation version doesnt reflect what the translator tries to explicate he seems to write a literary critique or an essay, which tends to be glanced off the task. It is no part of a translators duties to tell his readers to understand the original this way or that way. The translation version should speak for itself.

Emphasizing on obsessive sexuality by conceiving of the tonal echo of word implying sex, or by reading vertically the lines for sexual innuendo the translator sidetracks his audience into only the implication of sex in H Xun Hngs poetry, and destabilises the other self of her poems which is for other purposes. Does not the woman in Phn n b feel any screw but scorn for her husband who sexually abuses her when the child is crying by her side? Does not the girl in Bnh tri nܧc mock man monitoring and controlling woman? Do we know the author intention? If the poem Ly chng chung, and the likes are the complaints about H Xun Hngs unhappy marriage, or they are the attacks on polygamy practised in the feudal system? And the authors intention. Nobody knows for sure an authors intention. Yet John Balaban, when following old texts, insists on supporting his idea of H Xun Hngs sexual revolt. [Quote: Lacking this, H Xun Hng had to settle for shelter and sex (Spring Essence, page 8)]. H Xun Hngs poetry has sexuality in it, some of her poems ably demonstrate her lust for life, her ranging thirst for love which is the way of nature, but most of her poems use sexual language as risky weaponry to attack. Surprisingly, some scholars (still, male authority in literature) seemed to indulge themselves to judge her dual-purpose poetry to be one homogenous kind of poetry for her lust for sex. To read H Xun Hngs poems as only a kind of poetry that implies sex or love, is like reading Romeo and Juliet as a love story and completely ignoring William Shakespeares trying to say about the adults irresponsibility, the moral corruption of the adults world.

Pitiful are non-Vietnamese speaking readers who cannot reach beyond the language barrier, who could see only a sample of the bathos presented and the half-length portrait of a naked woman on the cover of the book, her face covered with a flat winnowing basket, introduced as Spring Essence. Of course, the word Spring Essence does not in the least imply the authors name. A persons name cannot be clumsily, and impolitely translated into any foreign language. Thus, the book cover spirit is to imply the book itself, and, despite the translator might pre-empt critics by extolling sexual revolution, such spirit is quite opposite to H Xun Hngs poetry. In H Xun Hngs, the offensive language she uses to attack, to unveil her society is covered perfectly under her art of spoonerism, while the poetic beauty of her language is obviously to be seen in the highest standards. In the picture on the translation versions cover, the beauty as well as the intelligence of poetry (the face of the woman, it may be understood) is covered, and what is not is shown to the books readers with poetic words to advertise it as Spring Essence.

When Vietnamese literature is almost unknown to the world, thanks to John Balabans remarkable concern and his greatest diligence we have H Xun Hngs poetry finally introduced to the Western readers. Our great hope is to see if John Balaban will be able to find the poetry of H Xun Hng a right place in the literary world. In fact, we have only a Spring Essence: The Poetry of H Xun Hng infested with a number of mistakes, with the translators tampering with the original in his translation. Not only John Balabans weakness in Vietnamese leads to an unreliable translation, his imagination and his radically mistaken judgment, not necessary and infelicitous for the art of translation, also introduces a false picture of an author of unrecorded times having been completely unknown to his audience.

The judgment, however, may be or may be not his own as he just concurs with one-sided opinion which on the whole tends to be far from the truth as appreciable studies let it be known that many offensive poems by other authors were attributed to H Xun Hng. But his literary attempt has failed, if he wants to render in his translation what is in the original. While every literary translation that bridges the gap between different cultures is fully appreciated, an inaccurate and unfair translation version, in a sense, betrays another kind of language barrier.  




(Simultaneously published in Wordbridge Magazine (ISSN: 1540-1723)

Double issue 3 &4 Winter 2003 & Spring 2004)




- Kim Vn Kiu, traduction en franais par Nguyn Vn Vnh. Saigon: Khai Tr, 1970.

- Nguyn Vn Hanh [No year given]. H Xun Hng - tc phm, thn th v vn ti. Republished in the US.

- o Thi Tn, 1996. Th H Xun Hng t ci ngun vo th tc. H Ni: Nh xut bn Gio Dc,

- Phm Doanh, 1999. Th Ph, th ܩng tuyn dch, Tp 1. US: m Ninh, Inc

- David McKay, 1900. Leaves of Grass with Autobiography Whitman. Philadelphia: Sherman & Co.

- The Harvard Classics, Volume 17, 1909. New York: The Collier Press, 1909

- Nguyn Vn Bn, 1983. Vn Ngh Dn Gian. Vit Nam: S vn ha thng tin Qung Nam- Nng,

- Qunh C-Vn Lang Nguyn Anh, 1998. Danh Nhn t Vit, Tp 3. Saigon: Nh Xut bn Thanh Nin.

- Hong Ph , 2002. T in ting Vit, 8th edition. VN: Nng Publisher

- Vn Bnh Tn Tht Lng, 1950. n Nh Hu CUNG ON NGM KHC dn gii v ch thch. US: republished by Din Hng [ No date given].

- Tn Tht Bnh, 1997. Dn ca Bnh Tr Thin. Hu: Nh xut bn Thun Ha

- inh Gia Khnh - Chu Xun Din, 1997. Vn Hc Dn Gian, tp 2, H Ni: Nh xut bn i hc v Trung hc chuyn nghip.


Corrections& Clarifications:

The article, published in this page in Winter 2003, and simultaneously in the printed Wordbridge Double Issue 3&4 Winter 2003 & Spring 2004, contained typing errors. Websites republishing the article and readers obtaining a hard copy of the text please have the errors corrected. The Writers Post apologises for any inconvenience caused.

page 1: translators and established writers/ a number of translators and established writers

page 8: the man who want to marry her/ the man who wants to marry her.

page 16: phrase reversals / phrase reversals (in quotation marks)

page 17: by others words / by other words.

page 22: the words Spring Essence/ the word Spring Essence

Page 13: Buddihsm / Buddhism; page 19: obsviously / obviously;

A missing sentence on page 7: Ti lng is the bags almost full (of something), not the backpack (a pack carried on ones back). [The above sentence, appeared in Wordbridge Magazine, was missing in this page].

Clarifications: On page 2 City was incorrectly applied to Nghe An Province; on page 127, a note to The unwed mother was incorrectly typed twice: Volume 3, page 337, 338.


the magazine of Literature & Literature-in-translation.



Editorial note: All works published in this issue are simultaneously published in the printed Wordbridge magazine double issue 3 &4 Winter 2003 & Spring 2004. (ISSN: 1540-1723).

Copyright N. Saomai / Nguyen Sao Mai 1999, 2004. Nothing in this issue may be downloaded, distributed, or reproduced without the permission of the author/ translator/ artist/ The Writers Post/ and Wordbridge magazine. Creating links to place The Writers Post or any of its pages within other framesets or in other documents is copyright violation, and is not permitted.



Return to Contents