Vè: Lament on The Fall of the Capital

During the night of 4/5 July 1885 the Regent Ton That Thuyet made a surprise attack on the French garrison at Hue. The attempt failed. The reprisals by the occupying force were terrible.
Lament on The Fall of the Capital (Ve That Thu Kinh Do)
Lament on The Fall of the Capital (Ve That Thu Kinh Do)
Lament on The Fall of the Capital (Ve That Thu Kinh Do)
The Regent, his decision taken.
Came to inform his father:
’Father, if the others accept peace, not I!’
The whole court, civilian and military,
Are eager to negotiate
And the affair is already concluded.
Ten thousand sliver Ingots, ten thousand gold teals…
Hate the Tay these barbarians
Who demand such a price!
To you, Father, I say:
‘To live or to die, one must fight
Shame on those who, refusing to fight
Father, I say to you,
I’ve chosen the moment:
The night of the twenty-second
All is ready
Father, your white hairs are like silk.
Your cheeks wrinkled…. I’ve still not brought you any help,
I shall retake the citadel
And you’ll receive a letter written in red and sealed with gold.’
The Father, in tears listens to his son and replies:
‘If only I was younger
I would follow the battle!’
Officers and soldiers go away
With lanterns and lamps as far as Hau Bo
May the genies of the sky and earth
Grant our wish: to reconquer Tran Binh
Of all the Court,
Only the Regent is there with the military.
The second night watch when preparing the rice
Streets on all sides are full of silence.
At the third, the soldiers are ready
At the fourth, the signal is given.
Our firing starts
But the Tay continue to drink in Tran Binh
Our firing goes beyond Tien Non
Reaching Bao Vinh
Wounding the poor people,
How our people are to be pitied
Overwhelmed in a hundred ways,
Everywhere wailing and cries
The night is black
The child guides the mother, the mother carries the child.
Money, goods and herds
Alas, are dispersed
In disarray, all flee
Under the French bullets
Like fish in the river,
The rich man buries his treasure.
Second watch: all is blackness.
Fourth: the moon rises.
Fifth: the firing of the Tay becomes less,
A messenger tells of victory
Who had believed then in mines?
The enemy proceeds to Truong Dinh
And we at this side die
The munitions are exhausted
Lord Duc is advised:
“Of powder… what shall I say?
Say to the Marshal
He may go himself to look for it
Behind, at the side of Hau Bo!
As for me like a lost bird,
If it is victory, I remain
If defeat. I’ll go far away’
And Lord Duc calls out;
‘Hullo, my hammock
To go and see His Majesty!’
‘Your Majesty, the fight continues,
Better to leave your Palace
For it is fired on from all sides.”
The King beseeches His Highness
The Jade Emperor for Tran Binh,
He laments:
“Scarcely two winters of reign!
Who would have believed the throne in peril?”
The golden sword, the Book and the Seal
Are there…
Also palanquins, parasols
The golden throne,
The Kim Ngo regiments to protect the Queens
The procession deployed, they reach the Right-hand Gate
They weep, they regret.
At Ke Van one must go through water
As high as the Mission
One finally sees Lord Duc is a traitor
‘May your Majesty enter here’, he cries
But Lord Right
Golden sword in hand orders:
‘Follow the road with his Majesty.’
Alas! No one left
Of all the civilian and military Mandarins.
And Lord Duc takes refuge at the Mission.
At the height of Thien Mu
At that of Cho Mai.
We look behind
Towards the ruined Palace.
At the snake hour, the French
Hoisted their flag
After four hours of fighting
Alas, all is finished
Fires are raging around the New Market
Reach the Prefecture,
The Long Vu barracks, those of Tuyen Phong
The houses burn,
The poor people flee
Slipping along the walls.
Hearts tighten.
The Tay have taken the capital…