Ta đã về đứng bên bờ Pắc Nậm

Mặc heo may quấn quýt hồn cố hương,

Thấm hàng cây lấp ló những ven tường.

Hòa làn khói mơ màng bao nhớ ước.


Cách dòng nước ta là người mất nước,

Nước non ta, ai ngăn trở ta về?

Thấy người quê không tỏ được tình quê,

Rõ trước mắt mà tìm đâu cho thấy?


Hãy hét lớn hai bàn tay nắm lấy,

Hãy khua tan quân địch của Rồng Tiên

Hãy làm cho giống Việt lại đoàn viên,

Quê nước ở trong đáy dòng sống máu.


The poet and thinker Lý Đông A’s real name was Nguyễn Hữu Thanh. Born on January 3, 1921 in Hà Nam Province, he had attended elementay school and studied Chinese characters in his native village before he was sent to Hà Nội to further his education in a private school and in Quán Sứ Pagoda at age 16. A year later, he started frequenting the mountain-top Yên Tử Pagoda, where he used to meditate under an old pine tree. One day, while he was meditating, a bright red celestial light shone on him — a supernatural act, reverently explained by believers as the “corporal permeation by the divine light” or “linh quang thần nhập thể,” which magnified his mental prowess manyfold. Soon afterwards, urged by a group of scholars-turned-revolutionaries, he joined Nguyễn Hải Thần’s National Restoration Force (Phục Quốc Quân). This force had to flee to China after they lost the Lạng Sơn Battle to the Việt Minh in 1940. For three years in Liu Zhou (Liễu Châu), Nguyễn Hữu Thanh taught at the Liu Zhou Military Academy and spent much time in the Liu Zhou Library to read and write books. He returned in 1943, disseminated his writings under the pen name of Thái Việt Lý Đông A, and founded the People’s Party (Đảng Duy Dân). His major publications included Huyết Hoa (a collection of essays in the humanities), Đạo Trường Ngâm (a collection of patriotic poems), and Chu Tri Lục (an in-depth discussion of the platform of the People’s Party). In early 1946, when the Việt Minh agreed in a treaty to let the French come back, he decided to confront the Việt Minh themselves at the Nga My Hill Battle Zone. His mystifying disappearance at the end of this battle left behind the legend of a short-lived genius, a superb political theorist, an amazing visionary with uncanny foreknowledge of what would happen to his country sixty years later. In light of his literary legacy, Lý Đông A is arguably the most righteous poet and thinker of Vietnam in the twentieth century.

The poem Thi Nhiệt reflects his upright belief in the mission of writers, which urges them to inspire love (the blood nature of mankind), to infuse love in the ups and downs of history, and to extol selfless victories.


I came back standing on the bank of Pắc Nậm [1]

In spite of the nostalgia-imbued light wind [2]

Permeating lines of trees half-hidden along walls

And blended with a dreamy trail of memories and aspirations.


On this river side I am man who has lost his country [3]

My country, who prevents me from returning? [4]

Sharing confidence with fellow countrymen I see,

Clearly in front of me, yet nowhere to be found?


Clasping our hands let’s shout,

Let’s wipe out enemies of Dragons and Fairies [5]

Let’s re-unite the Viet race,

Whose land is in the bottom of their blood lifeline!


[1] Pắc Nậm is the name in an ethnic-minority language of a small river in the Cao Bằng and Lạng Sơn area, near the Vietnam-China border. Where Lý Đông A stood on the bank of Pắc Nậm River was just a few miles away from Hồ Chí Minh’s Pắc Bó Cave hideout.

[2] This light wind (gió heo may) is a cold autumnal movement of the air. It usually comes with a sad, overcast sky. When accompanied by dragonflies, it is a precursor for a storm, according to a time-honored Vietnamese proverb that says “Gió heo may, chuồn chuồn bay thì bão.” This cold wind exacerbated the poet’s sense of nostalgia and revived his memories and aspirations.

[3] The poet’s country was lost to the French colonialists, who were still ruling Vietnam (with Emperor Bảo Đại serving as a pitiful figurehead) when this poem was written in 1943.

[4] The subject of the verb “prevents” in this verse could be either the French or the Viet Minh, or both. The pain of a man without a country along with his unbearable frustration of not being in communication with his fellow countrymen spread through the second stanza of the poem.

[5] As the Vietnamese people’s mythological ancestors were dragons and fairies, the Vietnamese still frequently refer to themselves as “con Rồng cháu Tiên” (descendants of Dragons and Fairies) with pride.


Lý Đông A (1969). Chu Tri Lục. Saigon: Gió Đáy.

Lý Đông A (1986). Huyết Hoa. San José, CA: Nhóm Nghiên Cứu Văn Hóa Dân Tộc Việt.

Lý Đông A (1992). Đạo Trường Ngâm. Westminster, CA: Vạn Thắng Thư Cục.

Viên Linh (2010). Lý Đông A, Chính Khí Việt & Nghệ Thuật. Khởi Hành Literary Review, 15(170), 12-14.

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One comment

  1. Rất thú vị, khi đọc bàichuyển ngữ về Lý Đông A, một nhân tài đặc biệt của đất nước, mà tôi hằng ngưỡng mộ. Cám ơn anh Đàm Trung Phán. Thật hùng hồn là những câu:

    Hãy hét lớn hai bàn tay nắm lấy,
    Hãy khua tan quân địch của Rồng Tiên
    Hãy làm cho giống Việt lại đoàn viên,
    Quê nước ở trong đáy dòng sống máu.

    Số lượt thích

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