(VOVworld) – On November 8, 2013 the UNESCO General Conference’s 37th session in Paris issued a resolution honoring great Vietnamese poet Nguyen Du and other international cultural figures. Vietnam is now preparing to celebrate the poet’s 250th birth anniversary in 2015.
Nguyen Du, who was born in 1765 and died in 1820, left many valuable works, including The Tale of Kieu. The masterpiece is now translated into more than 20 languages and cherished for its creativity, independent thinking, and distillation of Vietnamese culture. Over the last 2 centuries, critics have explained and analyzed the work from various angles. The Tale of Kieu was written in Chu Nom, a logographic script formerly used to write the Vietnamese language and comprised of 3,254 verses in the sin-eight-word distich metre. The plot reflects the Vietnamese society in the 19th century through the life of Vuong Thuy Kieu, a woman living out a cruel fate. Throughout his work, Nguyen Du pondered love and the human heart. The Tale of Kieu is filled with the pains of human life and the desire for happiness, freedom and justice, while denouncing the atrocity of the regime. The story is viewed as the pinnacle of Vietnamese literature because of its humanity and the perfect beauty of its language. Dr. Ngo Van Gia, lecturer of Hanoi University of Culture, told VOV:“Nguyen Du left a huge legacy in terms of ideology, content and artistic penmanship. He contributed to national literature and cultural heritage. He beautified and enriched Vietnamese language. It is said that The tale of Kieu elevated the Vietnamese and made it a language of literature and culture. Nguyen Du showed his great passion and extraordinary creativity. He was one of few personalities who Vietnam is proud of”.
The Tale of Kieu is now included in school curricula and has been adapted for theater and cinema. Many Vietnamese learn the tale by heart and easily invoke verses to describe certain circumstances in their lives. The characters are often mentioned to praise good deeds or criticize vices. The Tale of Kieu is also used to tell somebody’s fortune.
The Association of The Tale of Kieu Studies has been established in Vietnam. Doctor Nguyen Khac Bao in Bac Ninh province is a member of the association. He says he owns 52 ancient versions of the poem: “My family’s versions of The tale of Kieu in Chu Nom are different from the version written in the national language. At first, I collected versions within Bac Ninh province, and then throughout Vietnam. I also ordered friends in France, Canada and the US to send me some other copies”.
Nguyen Du’ epic poem has global influence. During his visit to Vietnam in 2000, former US President Bill Clinton recited a verse that goes: “Lotus fades, chrysanthemums blossom”.
At the sidelines of the UNESCO meeting, which honored poet Nguyen Du, Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyen Thanh Son, who is also Chairman of the Vietnam National UNESCO Commission, noted that the tribute was proud moment for Vietnam. The poet was also praised for his patriotism and national pride. He used that strength to create master works in his own language, overcoming the strong influence that Chinese characters had on Vietnamese for thousands of years.