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Kim Sinh — Kìêu

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Published on Jun 28, 2012

(Lyrics included below in Vietnamese and poetic English translation.)

Kim Sinh is a blind musician and virtuoso of various instruments, including the Vietnamese guitar (a guitar with scalloped frets), đàn nguyệt, and violin (in the Vietnamese idiom).

The lyrics to this song are taken directly from the Vietnamese epic poem, Truỵên Kìêu (The Tale of Kìêu), hence the name of the song, "Kìêu." Carefully follow along through the beautiful poetry and see how the female vocals and the male vocals respond to each other in adherence to the verses; it is enchanting.

Starting on line 431 and ending on line 452:

Cửa ngoài vội rủ rèm the,
Xăm xăm băng lối vườn khuya một mình.
Nhặt thưa gương giọi đầu cành,
Ngọn đèn trông lọt trướng huỳnh hắt hiu.
Sinh vừa tựa án thiu thiu, (435)
Dở chiều như tỉnh dở chiều như mê.
Tiếng sen sẽ động giấc hòe,
Bóng trăng đã xế hoa lê lại gần.
Bâng khuâng đỉnh Giáp non Thần,
Còn ngờ giấc mộng đêm xuân mơ màng. (440)
Nàng rằng: Khoảng vắng đêm trường,
Vì hoa nên phải đánh đường tìm hoa.
Bây giờ rõ mặt đôi ta,
Biết đâu rồi nữa chẳng là chiêm bao ?
Vội mừng làm lễ rước vào, (445)
Đài sen nối sáp song đào thêm hương.
Tiên thề cùng thảo một chương,
Tóc mây một món dao vàng chia đôi.
Vầng trăng vằng vặc giữa trời,
Đinh ninh hai mặt một lời song song. (450)
Tóc tơ căn vặn tấc lòng,
Trăm năm tạc một chữ đồng đến xương.

A poetic translation by Huỳnh Sanh Thông:

She dropped silk curtains at the entrance door,
then crossed the garden in dark night, alone.
The moon through branches cast shapes bright or dark—
through curtains glimmered flickers of a lamp.
The student at his desk had nodded off (435)
reclining half awake and half asleep.
The girl's soft footsteps woke him from his drowse:
the moon was setting as she hovered near.
He wondered—was this Wu-hsia the fairy hill,
where he was dreaming now a spring night's dream? (440)
"Along a lonesome, darkened path," she said,
"for love of you I found my way to you.
Now we stand face to face—but who can tell
we shan't wake up and learn it was a dream?"
He bowed and welcomed her, then he replaced (445)
the candle and refilled the incense urn.
Both wrote a pledge of troth, and with a knife
they cut in two a lock of her long hair.
The stark bright moon was gazing from the skies
as with one voice both mouths pronounced the oath. (450)
Their hearts' recesses they explored and probed,
etching their vow of union in their bones.

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