Tag Archives: The Binh Dang

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

Today I have walked 53 kilometres,
My hat and clothes are soaking through, my shoes in tatters.
Without a place to sleep, all through the night
I sit by the edge of the latrine, waiting for light.

Ho Chi Minh, ‘Arrival At Tianbao Jail’, from The Prison Poems of Ho Chi Minh, trans. by The Binh Dang

Without the cold and blackness of winter
The warmth and splendour of spring could never be.
Misfortunes have steeled and tempered me
And even more strengthened my resolve.

Ho Chi Minh, ‘Advice To Myself’, 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

I have never been given to chanting verse;
But what else can a captive do in jail?
These long days I’ll spend composing poems:
Singing may ease the wait for freedom.

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