Qingming Festival

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Qingming Festival
        Ho Chi Minh 1890-1968

At Spring Festival rain falls fen-fen,
Cooped up convicts 
        sorrow unending.
May I ask... 
        freedom where are you?
Armed guards keep watch
        on a distant tower.
Hú Zhìmíng 1890-1968

Qīngmíng Shíjíe yǔ fēnfēn,
Lónglǐ qiúrényù duànhún.
Jiewèn zìyóu héchù yǒu,
Wèibīng yáo zhì biàn gōngmén.
Translator: Dongbo 東波

This interesting poem borrows heavily from Du Mu's poem by the same name. (See Charles Wu's translation.) In the Du Mu poem, the traveler asks if there is a wine shop nearby so he can quench his thirst. And he finds one under the apricot blossoms. In Ho Chi Min's poem there is no such happy ending, as he and his fellow convicts endure a cold sodden February day in prison.

Qingming is the Chinese Spring Festival usually celebrated in early February. In Vietnam it is also called Tet.

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