Lục Vân Tiên
The poem is one of the two most recognizable and influential epic poems in Vietnamese, the other being The Tale of Kiều written by Nguyễn Du. It is a narrative comprising 2,076 lines. The tale's reaffirmation of Vietnam's traditional moral virtues at a time when Vietnamese society was facing the challenges of the French invasion had great popular appeal.
The plot concerns Lục Vân Tiên who travels to the capital to take part in mandarin civil service examinations. On the way he saves a woman called Kiều Nguyệt Nga from bandits. Nguyệt Nga, in gratitude, offers to her deliverer her hairpin, but as Luc Van Tien refuses this she instead presents him a poem, to which he responds by exchanging one of his poems. Based on this encounter she later attempts suicide when her devotion to Tien is threatened but is saved by Quan Âm (Guanyin), the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The poem praises the power of true love, applauds bravery and fair justice, similarly to chivalric literature such as Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.
The first six lines of the poem are:
- " Trước đèn xem chuyện Tây Minh,
- Gẫm cười hai chữ nhân tình éo le.
- Ai ai lẳng lặng mà nghe,
- Giữ răn việc trước, lành dè thân sau.
- Trai thời trung hiếu làm đầu,
- Gái thời tiết hạnh làm câu trau mình. "
- Thị Định Nguyễn No Other Road to Take: Memoir of Mrs. Nguyễn Thị Định 1976 Page 36. "Lục Vân Tiên is the love saga between Lục Vân Tiên, a young scholar, and Nguyệt Nga, a beautiful and virtuous girl. ... Written at a time when Vietnamese society was being put under enormous pressure by the French invasion, Lục Vân Tiên's reaffirmation of the old traditional moral virtues had great appeal among the people. "
- Thị Thanh Bình Nguyêñ, Dana Healy Aspects of Vietnamese Culture 2002 Page 112 "Lục Vân Tiên - a narrative in verse written by the “blind poet of Nam Bộ" Nguyễn Đình Chiểu (1822-1888); it comprises 2,076 lines in the ... This type of verse is typical of Vietnamese folk literature and was used in truyện thơ (narrative poems).
- Culture and Customs of Vietnam - Page 73 Mark W. McLeod, Thi Dieu Nguyen - 2001 "Set in the mythical country of So, understood to be a state in ancient China, the poem begins as Luc Van Tien travels to the capital to compete in the examinations. En route, he saves a woman named Nguyet Nga, who has been kidnapped by ..."
- David G. Marr Vietnamese Tradition on Trial 1920-1945 1984 Page 195 "Thus, having only looked at Luc Van Tien and exchanged poems once, Kieu Nguyet Nga yet felt the obligation to attempt suicide when her chastity and fidelity to him were jeopardized. Saved by Kuan-yin, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy the ."