Love Songs of Times Past

love songs of times past

In the days following Tet, spring festivals are held throughout the countryside. Boys and girls organize singing matches, which often lead to happy unions. Love…
In the days following Tet, spring festivals are held throughout the countryside. Boys and girls organize singing matches, which often lead to happy unions. Love songs are tossed back and forth in what are vestiges of ritual ceremonies reflecting the interplay of male (yang) and female (yin) principles in the universe.
Below are excerpts from songs still dear to the hearts of young farmers in the Red River delta.

From the boy:
“With you it’s love at first sight,
Is it the will of heaven?
I love you for your pink cheeks
Your lips that bloom like a flower
Love strikes a deep root in my heart
Bred by your deportment, talent and beauty
Even stones would be moved by them
How could a man’s heart offer resistance?”
From the girl:
“I am not after large expanses of fields and ponds
It’s the pen brush and ink slab of a young scholar that attract my sympathy
I am not after huge granaries bursting with paddy
I love you because your smile is so sweet
I do not crave for a brick house roofed with tiles
I love you because your parents are gentle and kind
Please accept this betel quid as a token of love
Be it too spicy, pungent and sharp or, on the contrary, tasteless
Whether or not we shall be husband and wife
Please accept it whole-heartedly, or you’ll make me so sad
I prepare this quid with my own hands
It’s the betel of wealth and honor
The betel that unites plum with peach, and ties plum to bamboo
It’s the betel that binds a virtuous girl to a wise man
We shall engrave our love in gold
Compose poetry and drink rice wine together
We shall strum our guitar and dream in the moonlight
Let’s talk to each other, let me know
If you love me as much as I thought. (…)
Taking my bag with me, I cross the river
Let Mother call after me, let me bid her adieu
I love my husband, I must follow him
Whenever you go, I’ll be with you
Hunger I shall bear, cold I shall endure.”

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