The Tale of Kiêu

A Vietnamese Epic Poem

A hundred years – in this life span on earth
talent and destiny are apt to feud.
You must go through an event in which the sea becomes mulberry fields
and watch such things as make you sick at heart.
Is it strange that who is rich in this is poor in that?
Blue Heaven’s wont to strike rosy cheeks from spite.

Opening passage from Nguyen Du’s (1766-1820)
classic Vietnamese poem “The Tale of Kieu.”

An excellent bilingual translation

Since its publication in the early nineteenth century, this epic poem has remained widely regarded as a supreme masterpiece of Vietnamese literature and, by some, as a critical reflection on the rise of the Nguyen dynasty. This English translation offers notes on the work’s Chinese influences and explanations of Vietnamese proverbs and folk sayings.

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