American translates Nguyen Trai’s poems into English

An American professor and a Vietnamese poet have co-operated in translating poems by Nguyen Trai, a famous figure in Vietnamese literature in the 1500s, into English.

Paul Hoover, Professor of the Literary Creation Faculty of the University of California in San Francisco, told the Lao Dong Newspaper o­n December 27 that he and poet Nguyen Do have so far completed the translation of 18 short poems in Chinese and Nom (ancient Vietnamese) scripts. They are now translating ‘Dai Cao Binh Ngo’, an immortal literary work, which was written by Nguyen Trai after Vietnam (then called Dai Viet) won the 10-year resistance against Ming aggressors.

Commenting o­n Nguyen Trai's poems, however said: "Nguyen Trai writes of the essential in a language of depth experience as universal as the meaning of light and shadow." "Like Nguyen Trai, I have lived long enough to experience the ups and downs of life," he added.

Hoover also said that as he has no knowledge of Vietnamese, Nguyen Do translates the literal meaning of the poems into English and then he takes it from there. "It’s impossible to strictly follow rhyming and maintain the poems' emotional thrust, so I let rhymes fall in English o­nly when they were convenient to the poem’s drama," said the professor.

It is estimated that around 150 poems by Nguyen Trai will be translated into English by Hoover and Nguyen Do for making a collection and the work will take them o­ne year to finish.

Hoover also revealed that the University of Iowa Publishing House is considering publishing the 175-page collection "Contemporary Vietnamese Poems" by himself and Nguyen Do. (VNA)