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Nov 24, 2021 / 17:31

UNESCO honors Vietnamese poets and cultural celebrities

The two Vietnamese poets are among UNESCO’s list of World Cultural Celebrities, whose birth and death anniversaries will be celebrated in 2022.

Renowned Vietnamese poets Ho Xuan Huong (1772-1822) and Nguyen Dinh Chieu (1822 -1888) have just been officially honored as “World Cultural Celebrity” by UNESCO.

The illutration of Ho Xuan Huong's poems by Le Lan

The world organization especially highly evaluated the records nominating these two great poets submitted by Vietnam at its 41st General Conference held on November 24 in Paris (France).

According to the decision made at the meeting, UNESCO and Vietnam will jointly celebrate the 200th birthday of Nguyen Dinh Chieu and the 250th birth and 200th death anniversaries of Ho Xuan Huong in 2022.

The approval of the nominations show that Vietnamese cultural values have been highly regarded by the international community, according to Permanent Representative of Vietnam to UNESCO Le Thi Hong Van.

“It also reflects the UNESCO’s effort to promote freedom and equality for all, particularly in education,” she said.

The portrait of poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu. File photo

Poet Ho Xuan Huong (1772-1822) was born at the end of the Le dynasty. Back then, Vietnamese poetry was heavily influenced by China’s Tang versification, which featured extremely strict rules regarding imagery, rhythm and enjambment. However, Huong’s works in Nom script (Vietnamese ancient alphabet based on sinograms) were free from such rigidity, employing metaphors and similes taken from humble Vietnamese daily life.

Her best-known poem is “Banh Troi Nuoc” (Sticky Rice Dumplings) that is taught in Vietnamese high school, Huong likened her body and fate to those of a rice cake: “My body is both white and curvaceous.” However, she emphasized that despite both subjects’ hardship in life, they remain unyielding and righteous, saying “Our shapes depend on the hands of the maker. Yet, our insides remain hearty.”

The late poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu (1822 – 1888) was born under the Nguyen Dynasty. The blind poet was known for opposing French invasion in the south of Vietnam who defied the Treaty of Saigon (1862), which ceded southern Vietnam to France. His epic poem, Luc Van Tien, remains one of the most celebrated works of Vietnamese literature.