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  Tuesday  September 9  2003    06: 33 PM


Ly Lan

Falling Asleep in a Café

A riverside café garden
An evening of light rain
A breeze shifting over the water
The river bubbles with a dribble of lights

Get some sleep, man—forty year’s heart weariness
Forty years to let go of a first love
Swaying lanterns flicker white hairs among the black
Close your eyes on the human stain

Get some sleep beneath the early moon
The rhythm of the running tide swaying the wharf
Close your eyes on the world
Learn to take some pity on yourself.


Writing Vietnamese

Language Hat explains the origin of the name Vietnam in doing so takes readers on a short tour of early Vietnamese history. Only thing that I'd add is that most of the Chinese borrowings in Vietnamese come from Han Chinese. And the Vietnamese use of Chinese characters took two forms. Initially, the Vietnamese emperors simply used Han Chinese as the official language, but before long scholars wanted a way to write Vietnamese & a system called chu nom was developed in which most Vietnamese words were represented by a pair of Chinese characters, one for the meaning & one for the sound. The system was devilishly difficult & never fully formalized. There has been a recent revival of interest in preserving old nom texts spurred on by John Balaban's translations of the poems of Ho Xuan Hung, the 19th century proto-feminist & wife of a court official. A computer font to print nom was developed in order to print the poems in their original form alongside the translations & the modern Vietnamese texts.

Here is Language Hat's link...


I was visiting Nelson's blog and ran across the statement "For example, the Cantonese term for Vietnam is 'Yuet Naam,' and the pronunciation is such that they could conceivably be derived from similar sources." I was going to leave him a comment letting him know his guess was correct, but when I tried to compose it I realized I could either say "Yes" and leave it at that or tell a longer story than would suit a comment box, so I chose the latter, and here it is.

This is where I beg, again. (It worked once before!) Joseph Duemer mentioned Ho Xuan Hung. I've had her book, Spring Essence, in my Amazon Wish List for some time. It looks like it will stay there for some time more unless someone should buy it for me. Short of that, buy it for yourself.