Lý thường kiệt nam quốc sơn hà




VIETNAMESE POETRYtranslated và annotated

Dr. Đàm Trung PhápProfessor EmeritusTexas Woman’s University


“NamQuốc tô Hà”

Lý hay Kiệt


LýThường Kiệt (1019-1105) was one of Vietnam’s greatest generals. His originalfamily name was Nguyễn, but King Lý Thánh Tông himself changed it to Lý as atoken of appreciation and gratitude. As a young child, he told his family thathe would lượt thích to become a general “who would charge into battlefields tenthousand miles away khổng lồ achieve victories, get knighted, and glorify the familyline.” At age 18, he was selected as a cavalry officer. Under King Lý ThánhTông, in the year 1054, he was appointed lớn an important post và charged withthe pacification of the Thanh-Nghệ region. He pacified 5 prefectures, 6districts, 3 streams, và 24 caves (Hoàng Xuân Hãn 1950). The king made him amarshal và bestowed upon him the extraordinary authority of “tiết việt” or theprerogative to condemn people to death and only report khổng lồ the king afterward.The marshal also became the king’s adopted younger brother (thiên tử nghĩa đệ)<1>. Upon hearing that China’s song (Tống)king was planning to lớn invade Đại Việt, he told the newly-installed King Lý NhânTông, “We should strike the enemies first instead of waiting for them lớn cometo us.” With the king’s approval, the marshal & his troops raided threeChinese prefectures, namely Yong Zhou (Châu Ung) in Guang Xi (Quảng Tây)Province, & Qin Zhou (Châu Khâm) and Lian Zhou (Châu Liêm) in Guang Dong (QuảngĐông) Province. Wherever Lý thường Kiệt và his troops went, he issued “đạicáo” or “great proclamations” to lớn accuse the tuy nhiên prime minister Wang An Shi(Vương An Thạch) of oppressing the Chinese people và to declare that troopsfrom the Southern king came lớn stop Wang An Shi’s atrocious new ruling policy(tân pháp). The defeated governor of Yong Zhou committed suicide. All told,about one hundred thousand people in those three prefectures were killed orcaptured by marshal Ly’s troops (Nguyễn Đăng Thục 1967).

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Afurious Wang An Shi ordered a large army under the command of several generals,strengthened by alliance forces from Champa (Chiêm Thành) and Chenla (Chân Lạp),to invade Đại Việt. Lý hay Kiệt’s troops battled them along the Như NguyệtRiver, north of Thăng Long, for over one month, with both sides suffering heavylosses. In order to lớn exhort his troops to continue lớn resist agressors, onenight Lý thường Kiệt had someone in a temple on the southern ngân hàng of the riverdeclaim four powerful verses he had written in Chinese <2>. The verses inChinese characters, their Sino-Vietnamese transliteration, & theirtranslation  into Vietnamese by NguyễnĐăng Thục (1967) & into English by Huỳnh sanh Thông (1996) appear below:

南國山河南帝居 phái nam quốc đất nước Nam đếcư截然定分在天書 Tiệt nhiên định phận tạithiên thư.如何逆虜來侵犯 Như hà nghịch lỗ lai xâm phạm汝等行看取敗虛 Nhữ đẳng hành khan thủbại hư

Sông núi nước Nam, quyền vua NamHiển nhiên Thiên định hẳn không lầm.Giặc cất cánh trái mệnh đòi xâm chiếmThảm bại trông kìa, hỡi bạn hữu tham.(Bản dịch của Nguyễn Đăng Thục)

The Southern emperor rules theSouthern land.Our destiny is writ in Heaven’sBook. How dare ye bandits trespass on oursoil? Ye shall meet your undoing at ourhands!(Translation by Huỳnh sanh Thông)

Assertingthe sovereignty of Vietnam, Lý thường Kiệt’s poem also heralded a heroic spiritfrom the South when faced by aggression from the North <3>. More than everbefore, now is the time for us to review the valiant pages of our history bookin order to revive the Vietnamese people’s indomitable national-defense spirit.

Xem thêm: Hiệu Lực Của Thông Tư 08/2012 /Ttlt, Thông Tư Liên Tịch 08/2012/Ttlt


<1>During the Lý dynasty (1010-1225), according khổng lồ Ngô Thời Sĩ in his Việt Sử Tiêu Án, there were numeroussages và heroes and the people enjoyed long-lasting peace; the country hadnever been this auspiciously ruled before. It was during this dynasty that ĐạiViệt (Great Viet) was chosen as the country’ s name and that Thăng Long (RisingDragon) became the country’s capital. The magnificent quốc tử giám (the agencythat oversaw higher education), the nation’s very first university, wasestablished in Thăng Long in 1076 by King Lý Thánh Tông. Đại Việt was totallyindependent from its northern neighbor.

<2>Nguyễn Đăng Thục (1967) had this to lớn say about marshal Lý thường Kiệt’s poem:“This is the national psyche reflecting the people’s religious spirit borderingon the mystical. Reporting on the effect of the declamation of the poem, thebook Việt Điện U Linh Tập noted that‘in the stillness of the night, the booming recital of the poem from a templeboosted the Vietnamese troops’ morale. The terrified tuy vậy troops simplydispersed.’ Thus, Lý thường xuyên Kiệt succeeded in defending Đại Việt’s nationaldignity in the face of the Northern forces. Not only did he stamp out China’sintention to re-conquer Vietnam, but he also demonstrated the victory of thespiritual Vietnamese ideology over the socially oppressive ideology of apolitico-economic doctrine implemented by Wang An Shi” (page 114).

<3>Since the second half of the twentieth century, this patriotic poem by marshalLý hay Kiệt has been considered as Vietnam’s first declaration ofindependence. According lớn Hoàng Văn Chí (1964), this independent spirit waspraised by a Japanese statesman in front of a Chinese counterpart. He wrote, “After the 1911 revolution and histransfer of presidential powers to Yuan Shi Kai (Viên cố gắng Khải), Sun Wen (TônVăn) visited Japan. He was honored at a banquet given by Inukai Tsuyoshi (KhuyểnDưỡng Nghị), leader of the Japanese Kuomintang (Quốc Dân Đảng Nhật Bản). Askedabout his recent visit to lớn Hà Nội, Sun Wen commented, ‘The Vietnamese areservile by nature. They have no future.’ Inukai Tsuyoshi disagreed, saying that‘Historically, among the Bách Việt group, only việt nam has not beenSinicized.’ Sun Wen said nothing more” (page 22).



HoàngXuân Hãn (1950). Lý hay Kiệt.Hanoi: Sông Nhị.

HoàngVăn Chí (no date). Trường đoản cú thực dân mang lại cộng sản.Glendale, CA: Dainamco. .

HuỳnhSanh Thông (1996). An anthology ofVietnamese poems. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

LêHữu Mục (1960). Việt điện u linh tập(Lý Tế Xuyên, nạm kỷ XIV). Saigon: Khai Trí.