Joyfully Composed While Crossing the Pass


 
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Nanning Highway on left, Vietnam on right.

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阮偍







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使





Joyfully Composed While Crossing the Pass
        Nguyen De

In the morning my envoy's banners
        ascending the Revering Virtue Terrace,
And when I went to cross the pass
        I hesitated for a moment.
To reach that which all revolves
        accords with my original intent,
Yet the sound of cymbals and cannon
        stirs my traveler's woes.
At times I will be busy with my official tasks
        racing about like departing birds,
But during times alone
        thoughts of home 
                will arrive with the white clouds.
Traveling in our kingdom
        I always regret there is so little to see,
Now I can truly enjoy the grand road ahead of me.
 
Guòguān Xǐfù
Ruǎn Dé (Nguyen De)

Jīngjié chén deēng Yǎng Dé Tái,
Guān tōu jìnbù zhòng páihuái.
Gǒng qiúlù dá chūxīn fù,
Luó pàoshēng chuán kè sī ??
Shǐ shì máng suí qīng niǎo qù,
Xiāngqíng xián suì báiyún lái.
Guó yóu měi hèn fēng guāng shǎo,
Dào cǐ zhòng xīn dàdào kāi.
 
Translator: Liam Kelley 翻譯者

Notes:
This poem was writtten as Nguyen De, departing to the North on behalf of the Tay Son dynasty, felt a sense of elation as he crossed the 鎮南關 Zhènnánguān, South Holding Frontier Post, between Vietnam and China, and started out on his two year round trip tributary mission to the Chinese court in Peking. Presently the pass is named in Chinese, 友誼關 Yǒuyiguān, Friendship Pass.

For furthur discussion of this poem read Liam Kelley's great book Beyond The Bronze Pillars, Envoy Poetry and the Sino-Vietnamese Relationship, U of Hawaii Press.

In the 1790’s, Nguyen De, departing to the North on behalf of the Tay Son dynasty, felt a similar sense of elation upon crossing the pass. He recorded his sentiments in a poem

 
 
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