The arduous way

Some people might think it straight-up foolishness to try to read something written in a language you don't speak by a person from a different country altogether. I put it to you that those people are slackers, and invite you to examine 征婦吟曲, the "Song of a Soldier's Wife", by Đặng Trần Côn. (Alright, I confess. I read the English.)

Chinese pronounced (old?) Vietnamese-style:
Thiên địa phong trần
Hồng nhan đa truân
Du du bỉ thương hề thuỳ tạo nhân
Chữ nôm version by Ðoàn Thị Ðiểm:
Thuở trời đất nổi cơn gió bụi,
Khách má hồng nhiều nỗi truân chuyên.
Xanh kia thăm thẳm tầng trên,
Vì ai gây dựng cho nên nỗi này ?
Character-by-character gloss of the original Chinese:
heaven earth wind dust
crimson face many camps [sufferings?]
far far that blue
o [?] who create distress
English translation by Huỳnh Sanh Thông:
When all through earth and heaven dust storms rise,
how hard and rough, the road a woman walks!
O those who rule in yonder blue above,
who is the cause and maker of this woe?

The characters "crimson" and "face" together form a Romantic word for "woman", y'see. It's not that she's puffed out from all the walking and suffering and such.

Bonus: The Tale of Kiều, with brass-knuckles literary debate at the end.

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