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Saturday, 2 June 2018

Drunk Again by Tan Da

In the Vietnam of the early twentieth century there were two themes for government-approved poetry: the ethical and the romantic.

The poet Tn Đà, however, liked to write about politics - and even though his political poetry encouraged patriotism, it raised no enthusiasm at all among the ruling classes.

The trouble was that Tn Đà wasn't the sort of man to submit to convention, so giving him any encouragement was risky. 

Here's one of his poems. It's not at all romantic, ethical, or even political. It's actually disgraceful.

But when I read it I can't help feeling an affection for the old ruffian, all the same.

Drunk Again


It is bad to be drunk, I know,
but let's be bad, let's all be drunk.
Let the earth be stoned, let Heaven
turn crimson!
Who will dare laugh?


Which time is this?
The tenth, the fiftieth, the nth time drunk?
Can't quite focus, must be tipsy again.

Lord, how can I be so tipsy?
Drunk all night, drunk all day, no more mind.
My wife says a souse is good for nothing,
and I drink harder to drown her out.
I leave the world to sober types,
couldn't care less what anyone says.
Hey, maybe that's the point of drinking -
sobriety, propriety - the wives talk their husbands into it.
We should honour the drunk men.

Tn Đà died in 1939 at the age of fifty one. He'd been the editor of literary magazines, founder of a new poetry movement, and written essays, poems and plays. 

He died, some would say inevitably, in great poverty.

Word To Use Today: sobriety. This word comes from the Old French from the Latin sōbrius.

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