South Holding Pass

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View into the Chinese portion of the South Holding Pass

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South Holding Pass
        Nguyen Du 1765-1820

The old affairs of Ly and Tran
        are distant and hard to find,
Three hundred years have past
        from then to now.
The two kindoms evenly divide
        at this lone rampart,
A single pass pressing valiently
        on the heart of a thousand peaks.
This area is remote
        and often there are 
                misleading rumors about,
But it is close to the Celestial
        so one can finally understand
                the depth of benevolence 
                        we receive.
From the Emperor's Palace 
        looking down
                this place 
                        is as if beyond 
                                the scattered clouds,
Yet by my ears
        I can still make out 
                a bit of the Imperial Tune.
Nguyen Du 1765-1820

Lǐ chénjiù shì yǎo nán xún,
Sānbáinián lái zhídào jīn.
Liǎng guó píngfēn gū dié miàn,
Yī guān xióngzhèn wàn shān xīn.
Dì piān měi wèi chuánwén wù,
Tiān jìn cái zhī jiàng zé shēn.
Dìquè huítóu bì yúnbiǎo,
Jūn Sháo ěr pàn yǒu yúyín.
Translator: Liam Kelley 翻譯者

This poem was writtten as Nguyen Du crossed the 鎮南關 Zhènnánguān, the South Holding Frontier Post, between Vietnam and China, as he started out on a two year round trip tributary mission to the Chinese court in Peking. Presently the pass is named 友誼關 Yǒuyiguān,Friendship Pass in Chinese.

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

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