Proclamation of Victory
Author: Strategist, Poet, Scholar Nguyen Trai (1380 -1442)
In our retreat on Mount Lam,
We brooded over the wrongs done to our land.
Swearing not to live under the same vault of heaven as the oppressor,
For years we suffered in our heart and mind,
Tasting gall and lying on thorns,
We hardly touched our meals,
Devoting our time to studying strategies.
Pondering over the past and present, weighing the chances of success.
Even in our dreams plans for insurrection were hatched,
Our only thought day and night was national restoration.
When the banner of revolt was raised, enemy strength was at its peak,
On our side, talent was rare as stars at dawn and leaves in autumn.
Officers and advisers were lacking.
Burning with impatience to save the people, we longed to march eastward;
On our chariot, the best seat was left empty waiting for a talented general.
Alas, friends were late to come: it was like watching the fog at sea!
We had to rely on our own forces; a drowning man waited to be rescued!
The enemy was on the rampage, the nation in distress.
In Linh San, for months we ran short of supplies;
At Khoi Huyen, not an intact brigade was left.
But Heaven entrusted us with a great responsibility,
And we had to surmount all obstacles.
With the people united like one single family, we held high the standard of revolt;
With officers and men like father and son, we shared the last drop of wine.
Relying on surprise, we opposed our weak forces to much stronger ones;
In skillful ambushes, our few troops destroyed large units.
Successfully we confronted barbarity with justice.
And fought truculence with humanity.
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The Song of Con Son
At Con Son a stream sings night and day,
My accompaniment, my guitar.
At Con Son the mossy stones are washed by rain.
For me my bed of ease.
Pines on the mountain sides
Drop a green carpet where they stand.
I may lie dawn where I please.
There the wild bamboo makes miles of green.
Safe in their shade I sing my verse.
Why then, my friend, do you not return?
Why wander in the world of dust
What is so good in the houses of the great, their carriages?
Water, some vegetable, these suffice.
Consider Dong Trac and his coffers of gold.
Nguyen Tai, his eight hundred bushels of spice
Think of Ba Zi and Thuc Te who let themselves perish of want.
Sage and fool have not a common worth.
Yet each still strives for his desire
The life of man at most is one hundred years
And we must all return to earth and grass;
Joys and cares, good and evil entwine
Flowers bloom before they drop and die
An unknown forest or a gilded palace by pure chance may be our lot.
Now if you should find within you a Sao or a Zo
Friend, pay heed to my mountain song.