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Ho Xuan Huong

The Cake That Drifts In Water

My body is both white and round.
In water I may sink or swim.
The hand the kneads me may be rough,
But I still shall keep my true-red heart.

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Floating Sweet Dumpling

My body is powdery white and round
I sink and bob like a mountain in a pond
The hand that kneads me is hard and rough
You can't destroy my true red heart

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Snail

Mother and father gave birth to a snail
Night and day I crawl in smelly weeds
Dear prince, if you love me, unfasten my door
Stop, don't poke your finger up my tail!

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Lamenting Widow

A woman wails, boo hoo, mourning her man
Shut up, shame on you, don't cry to the hills!
O little sister, I should have warned you
Don't eat the meat, if it makes you cough blood!

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Wasps

Where are you wandering to, little fools
Come, big sister will teach you how to write verse
Itchy little wasps sucking rotting flowers
Horny baby lambkins butting gaps in the fence

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To A Couple Of Students Who Were Teasing Her

Where are you going, my dear little greenhorns?
Here, I'll teach you how to turn a verse or two
Young drones sucking at withered flowers,
Little goats brushing horns against a fence.

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Picking Flowers

If you want to pick flowers, you have to hike.
Climbing up, don't worry about your weary bones.
Pluck the low branches, pull down the high.
Enjoy alike the spent blossoms, the tight buds.

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Day and Night

Peekaboo we used to play;
my hands covered my face,
your hands covered your face,
incredible, there we were gone.

That is what we play now, your
hands on my face and my hands
on your eyes. Incredible
how we disappear into each other.

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The Jackfruit

I am like a jackfruit on the tree.
To taste you must plug me quick, while fresh:
the skin rough, the pulp thick, yes,
but oh, I warn you against touching --
the rich juice will gush and stain your hands


Translated by Nguyen Ngoc Bich


Anonymous submission.

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Spring-Watching Pavilion

A gentle spring evening arrives
airily, unclouded by worldly dust.

Three times the bell tolls echoes like a wave.
We see heaven upside-down in sad puddles.

Love's vast sea cannot be emptied.
And springs of grace flow easily everywhere.

Where is nirvana?
Nirvana is here, nine times out of ten.

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