| Sword Lake at the heart of Hanoi (Photo: nguoihanoi.com.vn)
Hanoi is the center for Vietnam’s poetry and the birthplace of many well-known Vietnamese poets. Hanoi often hosts events connecting poets inside and outside Vietnam, including Vietnam Poetry Day, the International Conference on Vietnamese Literature, and the International Poem Festival. Poems about Hanoi feature a wide range of ancient styles and new free styles.
Almost all famous Vietnamese poets wrote poems about Hanoi, honoring its beauty, people, lifestyle, and history.
Doctor of Linguistics Do Anh Vu of Voice of Vietnam said, “Hanoi has many names – Thang Long, Dong Do, Dong Quan, and Dong Kinh – of which the name Thang Long is used the most in poetry, from the old days to the 20th century. Hanoi is romantic in Trinh Huu’s poems, nostalgic and loving in Phan Vu’s poems, and traumatic yet courageous in Luu Quang Vu’s. Hanoi is an endless source of inspiration for contemporary poetry.”
Vietnam’s poetry thrived the most from the second half of the 18th century to the first half of the 19th century. Hanoi was captured in all angles: people, street life, scenic spots, cultural and historical relics, and cuisine. Most notably, female poet Ba Huyen Thanh Quan wrote a poem about her nostalgia for Thang Long in its early days while a folk verse stirred the pride of the Hanoians’ elegance by comparing it with jasmine.
During wartime, between 1945 and 1975, Hanoi continued to be poetic and dazzling. Poet Hoang Nhuan Cam, Vice Chairman of the Vietnam Writers’ Association, told VOV, “During the resistance war against American imperialism, Pham Tien Duat, Luu Quang Vu, and Bang Viet emerged as famous poets who wrote beautiful poems about Hanoi. Bang Viet had a poem “Return to my heart” in which he belted out how he loved and missed Hanoi, a war-torn city now ready to rise up."
Cam continued, "After the reunification, some of the epics about Hanoi were penned, including “Oh Hanoi streets” by Phan Vu which was set to music and one by Nguyen Viet Chien comprising ten poems. A host of contemporary poems find their inspiration from the recent fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. A poem collection about Hanoi will be out on October 10, Hanoi Liberation Day.”
|Hanoi's Old Quarter (Photo: thegioidisan.vn)
Present Hanoi remains a popular topic for young poets. Some great poems successfully set to music are “Is it Hanoi in autum” (lyrics by To Nhu Chau), “Hanoi without rain this season” (lyrics by Bui Thanh Tuan), and “The day I return to Hanoi” (lyrics by Thanh Tung).
Poet Nguyen Viet Chien, Vice Chairman of the Hanoi Writers’ Association, said, “Contemporary poetry about Hanoi has evolved greatly. Young poets have discovered new things about Hanoi which are able to touch readers’ hearts and souls. Their artistic innovation is instrumental to Vietnam’s cultural diversity in modern society.”
Poems once reflected Hanoi’s morale throughout the war and are now highlighting its development and integration.