Vietnamese Epic Poem Introduced in Kiev

The epic Luc Van Tien of Vietnamese poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu was introduced in Ukraine on occassion of the latter's 200th birth anniversary celebration.
July 20, 2022 | 12:02

The Vietnamese Embassy in Ukraine, in collaboration with competent Ukrainian agencies, organised a book introduction ceremony in Kiev to showcase Luc Van Tien (The Tale of Luc Van Tien), the most popular poem by Vietnamese blind poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu, VNA reported Wednesday.

Attending the ceremony, there were representatives of the ‘Ukraine initiative’ organisation, Kiev City Knowledge Association, Institute of Linguistics of National University, the Ukraine-Vietnam Friendship Association, the Ukraine-Vietnam Friendship Parliamentary Assembly, the specialized high school, No. 251, named after President Ho Chi Minh and many Ukrainian friends love Vietnamese literature.

In addition, the ceremony also had the online participation via Zoom of Ukrainian students studying Vietnamese and Luc Van Tien poetry lovers in both countries.

Vietnamese Epic Poem Introduced in Ukraine
At the introduction. Photo: Vietnam's embassy

Ambassador Nguyen Hong Thach thanked the Ukrainian side for its efforts to publish the work in the local language. Given the situation in the country, many activities to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Vietnam-Ukraine diplomatic relations could not be done in line with the plan, the diplomat noted.

Therefore, the book launch, despite its small scale, is a meaningful activity in contribution to expanding cultural exchange and mutual understanding between the two peoples, Thach said.

Head of the ‘Ukraine initiative’ organization Yuri Kosenko said the year of the diplomatic celebration is a suitable time to step up research on Vietnam.

Stressing that Nguyen Dinh Chieu is both a great poet and a typical anti-colonial poet-soldier, he noted the introduction of his work honors his name and career on the occasion of the latter's 200th birth anniversary celebration.

The poet was known for his nationalist and anti-colonial writings against the French and his exemplary teaching and was also a popular medical practitioner. He is a role model for people with disabilities around the world. Despite his condition, he studied Confucianism and Oriental medicine.

A representative from the association of knowledge Vasili Vasilievich the poem had many profound philosophical contents, which are still valid today.

A theatre under Vasili Vasilievich is working to turn the poem into a play, he said, hoping the play to be staged in September on schedule.

During the introduction ceremony, the attendees also heard linguist Hoang Tuan Vu, a lecturer in the Vietnamese language department of the Institute of Languages, Kiev National University presenting an analysis of The Tale of Luc Van Tien's composition and poetic value.

Vietnamese Epic Poem Introduced in Ukraine
Copies of the book introduced at the event. Photo: Vietnam's embassy

Nguyen Dinh Chieu (1822 – 1888) was born in Binh Duong, Gia Dinh province (now District 1, Ho Chi Minh City). He was a patriotic teacher, physician and poet of southern Vietnam in the second half of the 19th century.

At around age 24, Chieu contracted an eye infection and was soon blind. Just before this infection, he learned of his mother’s death, and according to legend, Chieu was so heartbroken he was said to have gone blind with grief.

He opened a small school to teach poor students in Gia Dinh. He was also a popular medical practitioner who offered treatment for local people. He later moved to Can Giuoc in Long An province (now Ben Tre province), where he died.

Vietnamese Epic Poem Introduced in Kiev
A painting from the book Luc Van Tien (The Tale of Luc Van Tien). Relevant to both written and oral literature of the mid-nineteenth century, the poem “Luc Van Tien” took Nguyen Dinh Chieu to a long pantheon of national literary glories with its ability to beautifully blend classical literature and distinct Southern cultural characteristics. Photo courtesy of the Culture & Art Publishing House

His most famous work, Luc Van Tien (The Tale of Luc Van Tien), is an epic poem written in nom (the old Chinese-based Vietnamese script) was penned in the 1850s. It is regarded as one of the most influential poems in Vietnamese history, along with Truyen Kieu (The Tale of Kieu) by Nguyen Du.

The 2,076 line-work highlights the culture and lifestyle of southern people. Topics of love, loyalty, bravery and fair justice are featured.

The epic is used in textbooks for secondary high school students. It has been translated into many languages, including French, English and Japanese.

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