Tag Archives: Prison Poetry

Under the pestle how terribly the rice suffers!
But it comes out of the pounding as white cotton.
In this world the same process happens to humans:
Hard trials turn them into diamonds bright.

Ho Chi Minh, ‘Listening To The Sound Of Rice Pounding’, from The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, trans. by The Binh Dang

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Move with lightning speed in attack or defence:
Talent and nimble feet will give you the upper hand.

Ho Chi Minh, from ‘Learning To Play Chess’, from The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, trans. by The Binh Dang

It has never been easy in life to steer one’s course,
but how difficult it all has become now!

Ho Chi Minh, from ‘Hard Is The Road Of Life’, from The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, trans. by The Binh Dang

The meal is over, the sun sinks below the western horizon.
From all corners rise folk tune and people’s song.
Suddenly this dismal, gloomy Zingsi prison,
Is turned into a little music academy.

Ho Chi Minh, ‘Evening’, from The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, trans. by The Binh Dang

Whether beaten or hung and swung, be resolute,
Whether clamped or chained, say nothing false.
“Sacrifice yourself! Struggle to serve our case!”
The only retraction will be death’s release.

Nguyễn Thị Minh Khai, Untitled, trans. by Lady Borton