Yên Bái (Nguyễn Thái Học- Cô Giang)

 

Thaihoc

A great homage to the idyllic couple through my poem in Six-Eight:

He is young and talented;
Dying for his Father Land, he deserves being a valorous man.
She does not worry about her own life;
Dying for her love and duty, she is unforgettable forever.

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Contrary to other Vietnamese towns, Yên Bái has no tourist attractions. It is only the provincial capital, a riverside town located in the valley of the Red river half way on the road going from Hànội to the Chinese border Lào Cai. In spite of that, it continues to be famous in the past by its armed resistance driven by Vietnamese nationalists in the struggle for independence. It incarnates not only the hope of the Vietnamese people to regain their freedom by force but also the dauntlessness of the nationalists before death after the failure of their revolt in 1930. It should be looked at in the political context of that time to understand not only the causes of that revolt but also the Vietnamese people’s profound aspiration for independence after Phan Chu Trinh ‘s failure in advocating priority of overall progress of society over political independence followed by his death, and the house arrest of Phan Bội Châu, another important figure, by the colonial authorities at the capital of Huế.

Despite the warning of colonel Parfait-Louis Monteil in 1924, few reforms were made in favor of the native people. On the contrary, the exploitation of cheap labor in rubber tree plantations was at the top of its efficiency and horror. Writer Roland Dorgelès talked about it in his work “The Mandarin Road“. This virgin land, when it opens on impact, releases a mortal breath. As many as traced paths, as many as open tombs. The rubber trees coming out of the ground, spindly, and well in lines, look like the rows of cross. The dead numbered in the tens of thousand because of diseases and malnutrition. That is why through the following poem, this complaint is heard:

Kiếp phu đỗ lắm máu đào
Máu loang mặt đất máu trào mủ cây
Trần gian địa ngục là đây
Ðồn điền đất đỏ nơi Tây giết người

The coolies’ blood has much shed,
It shed on the ground, it shed through the sap.
This is the hell on earth,
The rubber tree plantation is where the French colonists commit murder.

For half of a century, the colonists harvested latex they converted into gold. It was in the plantations that sprouted the revolt. Someone like Nguyễn Văn Viên arrived at getting out of this hell and joining the Vietnamese nationalist party ( Việt Nam Quốc Dân Ðảng ) led by Nguyễn Thái Học. To show this fervor and find a favorable echo among the deprived, especially the plantation coolies, Nguyễn Văn Viên took the initiative, in spite of Nguyễn Thái Học’s reluctance, to assassinate Bazin known for his opulence in recruiting coolies and shipping them to rubber tree plantations in South Vietnam. The death of this man gave the colonial authorities an opportunity to launch the policy of repression all over the place.

Thus the nationalist party became the favored target in this crusade. It could no longer move easily. If it did not react, it would be a slow death because its members would be captured sooner or later by the colonial authorities. If it did react by the revolt, it knew that it would be a collective, hazardous, and exemplary suicide. That is why Nguyễn Thái Học had the habit of saying to his party companions:

Ðại hà chi thanh, nhân thọ kỷ hà?
Ðợi sông Hoàng Hà trong trở lại, đời người thọ là bao?

Waiting for the Yellow River water to be clear, how many live spans can we count?

The real photo of Nguyễn Thái Học

According to the Chinese, the Yellow River water only regains its clearness every three hundred years. Nguyen Thai Hoc knew for sure he was going to lead his party companions to a definite death. He could not wait any longer. But this death seemed useful because it recalled to the Vietnamese people that there was no other choice but the struggle. It also marked the beginning of   an   awareness and awakening of the whole people facing its destiny that was, up until then, led by the unworthy heirs of the Nguyễn dynasty (Khải Ðịnh, Bảo Ðại). The revolt of  Yên Bái was an indisputable failure because most of the nationalists leaders were captured.

On the other hand, it threw in a sound and long lasting basis upon which the communist party laid its authority and popularity among the people in the following years in the conquest of independence. It also tolled the death knell for a colonial empire that had vainly lost so many opportunities to reestablish the dialogue and cooperation with the native people. This was translated by the death sentence imposed on all the nationalist leaders. Nguyễn Thái Học was the last one to be guillotined. Before his execution, he was impassible. In spite of his weakness, he tried to shout out loud in French:

Dying for one’s country
Is the most beautiful fate
The most envied lot….

Then he lay down on his back facing the blade of the guillotine. “Long live Vietnam” was the last words heard before the fall of the guillotine’s blade. His blood spurted everywhere under a covered sky. His head fell in a bucket containing saw dust (June 17 1930). He was only 27. Faithful to her Vietnamese tradition, his wife Nguyễn Thị Giang did not take long to follow him to commit suicide on June 18, 1930 at the inn where they had met often before their marriage. She left a letter whose sentences illustrated well the indefectible love she had for her husband and her country:

Sống nhục sao bằng sự thoát vinh
Nước non vẹn kiếp chung tình
………
Cuộc đời xá kể chi thành bại
Trai trung thì gái phải trinh

Dying in pride rather than living in humiliation
I make it whole the love for you and the nation
……..
Success and failure do not matter in life
As long as man is faithful and woman has fidelity.

The remains of the thirteen Vietnamese nationalists were buried the following day on a hill near the Yên Bái railway station.

If this town is not as well known as most of Vietnamese cities, it incarnates on the contrary something the other towns cannot have. It is the symbol of maturity and dignity rediscovered in a people facing its own fate. It grew valiantly in the past along with the Vietnamese people in its struggle for independence.

(Việt Nam Quốc Dân Ðảng)

Strasbourg (Marché de Noël 2017)

 

 

Située à deux heures de la capitale Paris au nord-est de la France avec le train TGV, Strasbourg est une ville très charmante avec ses maisons à colombage dans le quartier historique localisé sur la Grande Île, qui est classée au Patrimoine mondial de l’Humanité par l’UNESCO depuis 1988. Elle est très connue pour son vieux marché de Noël en Europe.

 

Nằm ở phía đông bắc nước Pháp cách thủ đô Paris hơn hai giờ tàu tốc hành TGV, thành phố Strasbourg mơ mộng với những ngôi nhà xinh xắn ven các kênh đào trong khu lịch sữ La Petite France được công nhận là di sản thế giới từ năm 1988 bởi UNESCO. Strasbourg còn nổi tiếng là có chợ đêm Noël lâu đời nhất ở Âu Châu.

Bấm vào hình để xem ảnh rõ hơn (Cliquez sur l’image pour l’agrandir)

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The dragon (Con Rồng)

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There are neither Vietnamese tales nor legends without this fabulous and mythical animal that is commonly called Con Rồng or more literary Con Long (or the Dragon in English). It makes part of the four animals with supernatural power (Tứ Linh) and occupies the top place. It is frequently used in Vietnamese art. It is not only seen in pagodas, but also on the ridges of roofs, the beams of frames, furnitures, the pieces of dishes and fabrics. It is also the emblematic animal traditionally chosen by the emperor for his clothes.

All Vietnamese firmly believe they are descendents of the Dragon king Lạc Long Quân coming from the Waters and of the fairy Âu Cơ of terrestrial origins. From this union, the fairy laid one hundred eggs that gave birth to one hundred robust sons. Later, at the separation of the couple, fifty of them followed their father Dragon toward the lower coastal regions and founded the first Vietnamese nation named Văn Lang while the other fifty followed their terrestrial mother toward the high plains to give birth later to an ethnic microcosm the most complex in the world ( about fifty groups ). Although this version of the Seven Tribes of Israel is unbridled and poetic, it nevertheless allows the Vietnamese and other minority groups to live together somewhat peacefully in this country of the form of the dragon, and to unite as a sole person to overcome foreign aggressors in difficult moments of their history.

According to a Vietnamese legend, it was thanks to the return of a benefactor dragon that barbarous hordes coming from the North were routed. Its fire spitting tongues on contact with the sea turned into a multitude of small islands and reefs with extravagant forms. That is why this bay is known in Vietnamese as “Hạ Long” or ( Descending Dragon ). It becomes thus the eighth marvel of the world and a natural site the most visited by foreign tourists when they land in Vietnam.

Hạ Long Bay

The dragon is also the symbol of the King. That is why its feet must have five claws. If one sees a dragon with five claws on a furniture, a box or a china, this object is meant for the service of the emperor. Otherwise the dragon generally has only four claws.
It is also the symbol of the husband, the fiance and more generally the man. As for the woman, she is represented by the phenix. That is why when we want to make allusion to a marriage, we often associate a dragon with a phenix on a piece of embroidery or a sculpted panel. It is also this association that poets evoke in their poems to talk about marital happiness and shared joy.

The dragon is seen everywhere even in the Mekong delta. This river born in the foothills of the Himalayas ( Tibet ) divides into nine branches or nine dragons to throw itself in the golf of Cochinchina ( or Nam Bộ ). That is why this region is called Cửu Long ( or Nine Dragons in English).

If this marine monster is rebutted by the majority of the peoples, it is on the contrary, a part of the Vietnamese daily life. It is assigned to keep an watchful eye, at the imperial city of Huế, on the tombs of the Nguyễn emperors with all its body made of multicolored ceramic pieces. Golden, it coils around the carmine lacquered pillars of imperial palaces. It is one of the twelve astrological signs of the lunar calendar. It becomes not only the embroided silk clothes for tourists but also a front part sign with gaudy colors on the junks of the Hạ Long bay.

In the cradle of legends that is our Vietnam, we have the feeling of being better protected by this marine monster because we are convinced that  we are the descendents of king Dragon.

 

Paris 2017

paris
Paris est l’une des plus belles villes du monde, en particulier la nuit. Comme l’écrivain américain Ernest Heminway disait : Paris est toujours comme “une fête”. (The Moveable feast) lors de son séjour à la fin des années 1950. C’est Paris qui a fait de lui un écrivain célèbre.

Paris 2017