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Q: Translation of Poem of the "Non Dao" ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Translation of Poem of the "Non Dao"
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: purpzey-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 24 Aug 2005 22:50 PDT
Expires: 23 Sep 2005 22:50 PDT
Question ID: 560131
What is an English translation for "The Poem of the Non Dao" which is
in Vietnamese (I beleive)?

It appears on a picture I received which is from Vietnam. It is
written in an ornate style of caligraphy. The picture is a
"embroidery." It was originally drawn or painted and then embroidered

If neccesary, I might be able to put the American letters making up
the vietnamese words into the computer. E.g. "Ta diem d(b?)ao"...Due
to the caligraphy it would be somewhat difficult to figure out each
letter precisely.

I hope that the poem could be found as a whole translation as opposed
to word by word. That is to say I would know the "true meaning" and
literal translation of the poem.

I would be happy to provide any information I have in order to help.

Request for Question Clarification by secret901-ga on 25 Aug 2005 00:18 PDT
Hi purpzey-ga,
I'm a native Vietnamese speaker and I might be able to translate the
poem for you, but I'm not aware of any poem with that name.  The
sample text that you gave does appear to be Vietnamese, but hard to
decipher unless the proper diacritics are seen or more text is given.
Where did you get the title for this poem?  Is it possible to scan it
and post it online?  If not, can you transcribe it?
Some helpful tip when transcribing the letters that will make it easy
to intepret:  you can use the VIQR convention described here: to make it easy for me to interpret.
 You don't have to be perfectly accurate, I can guess from the


Clarification of Question by purpzey-ga on 25 Aug 2005 09:46 PDT
I started trying to use that format in order to transcribe it however
it occurs to me that perhaps it would be easier if I take a picture of
it? The problem is not the dialectics so much as just the ornate style
of the letters. Since I (obviously) don't speak Vietnamese there are
some cases in which I cannot decipher the letters. Plus, since I'm not
familiar with the dialectics it is difficult to figure out which is
which in some cases.

If you still prefer me to transcribe it--I can try. I just thought
perhaps a picture would be easier for you and more effecient in

Request for Question Clarification by secret901-ga on 25 Aug 2005 10:50 PDT
Yes, I think that a clear picture of the text would be much better.


Clarification of Question by purpzey-ga on 25 Aug 2005 15:55 PDT
Ok, I am just finishing taking the pictures. As soon as I am done I
will have them on my computer. Please let me know how I should send
them to you or post them? Will I need webspace? Can I email them to
you somehow? Let me know. Thanks.

Request for Question Clarification by secret901-ga on 25 Aug 2005 17:06 PDT
Hi purpzey-ga,
You can sign up for a free Photobucket account at to upload your pictures. 
After you uploaded them, please post links to the pictures here.
Please DON'T post your username/password info here.


Clarification of Question by purpzey-ga on 25 Aug 2005 19:31 PDT
Hello again.
I got the photos and uploaded them into the photobucket account.
They can be found at the following address:

The picture is tall and skinny so I took the pictures in three
sections. In the photobucket they appear left-to-right as
top-to-bottom. Also, they are labeled "NonDao 1 of 3" (is the top of
the picture) "NonDao 2 of 3" (is the middle) and "NonDao 3 of 3" (is
the bottom).

Hopefully you will be able to figure it out from there. 
Thanks for your help. Looking forward to your response.

Request for Question Clarification by secret901-ga on 25 Aug 2005 20:08 PDT
Hi purpzey-ga,
I am able to write down the make out the text of the poem, and can
understand its  literal meaning, but don't really know the "true
meaning" of the poem.  If you will accept just the literal meaning of
the poem (and some explanation of what certain things might represent
in Vietnamese culture), please let me know so that I can post it as an

============Text of poem===========
Hoa ?ào (Peach flower)

Ng??i mù s??ng
Ta mù s??ng
Áo tr?ng khoác ch?
b?i h??ng lao xao
Ng??i chiêm bao
Ta chiêm bao
??p th? n?m ng?
hoa ?ào ?ă lâu


Request for Question Clarification by secret901-ga on 25 Aug 2005 20:16 PDT
Oops, on closer inspection this poem is written in the classical "l?c
bác" (six-eight) form, where lines of 6 and 8 syllables alternate. 
Other features of this verse form include the last syllable of the
6-syllable line rhyming with the 6th syllable of the subsequent
8-syllable line and the last syllable of the 8-syllable line rhyming
with the last syllable of the subsequent 6-syllable line.

With that in mind, the format of the poem should be:

Hoa ?ào
Ng??i mù s??ng, ta mù s??ng
Áo tr?ng khoác ch?, b?i h??ng lao xao.
Ng??i chiêm bao, ta chiêm bao
??p th? n?m ng?, hoa ?ào ?ă lâu.


Clarification of Question by purpzey-ga on 25 Aug 2005 21:09 PDT
In response to: 

If you will accept just the literal meaning of the poem (and some
explanation of what certain things might represent in Vietnamese
culture), please let me know so that I can post it as an answer.

That would be fine, however, I am still confused about one thing. It
is, OK, if this is addressed in the answer--I would just like to feel
more confident about the title/last line of the poem.

The reason I ask is that I was given a piece of paper with the picture
that said  the picture was of "The poem of the Non Dao"--Is it
possible that it could be "Non ?ào" as opposed to "Hoa ?ào"?
      That is to say, if it was "Non ?ào" would that make  no sense at
all? or just change the meaning? Also, in addition to the fact that 
the paper said "Non Dao" as I look at the letters although it could be
"Hoa ?ào" it looks to me like "Non ?ào" (for reference see 1 of 3 and
3 of 3).

I certainly trust your abilities--So if you look at it again (or read
my question) and determine that in fact it is "Hoa ?ào" I would have
confidence in your word. I just wanted some further clarification with
or before the final translation and brief explanation of the poem.

Thank for all of your help so far,
I am very excited to see the final result!
Subject: Re: Translation of Poem of the "Non Dao"
Answered By: secret901-ga on 25 Aug 2005 23:01 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi purpzey,

It appears that you're right.  I found one reference to the poem
online at (check out the post
called non ?ào).  So instead of the poem about hoa ?ào (peach
blossom), it's about Non ?ào (Peach Mountain).

First, a bit of background about Non ?ào or Peach Mountain.  According
to Chinese legends, in Sichuan province there is a mountain where a
lot of peaches grow, and those who eat them will become immortals. 
Note that the term "non ?ào" is somewhat old-fashioned.  To say "Peach
Mountain", a modern Vietnamese would simply say "núi ?ào".

As I mentioned before, the poem is written in the "l?c bát" form, a
very popular form of poetry.  You can read about it at these

Now on to the poem, note that I made some changes to my original
transcription.  I also added line numbers for easy reference in the
--------------------Original text-------------------------------
Non ?ào
1. Ng??i mù s??ng, ta mù s??ng
2. Áo tr?ng khoác ch? b?i h??ng lao xao,
3. Ng??i chiêm bao, ta chiêm bao!
4. ??p th? n?m ng? non ?ào ?ă lâu! 

Peach Mountain
1. They/you are foggy, I/we am/are foggy
2. Putting on a moonly coat and waiting [for] the world [to be] in turmoils.  
3. They/you dream, I/we dream!
4. Draped in poetry, sleeping on Peach Mountain for a long time already!

1. "Ng??i" literally means "people" or "person", but it can be used to
address somebody really important, "ta" can mean "I", or it can be
short for "chúng ta", inclusive "we". I think this line means that
everyone is in a fog.
2. This can be interpreted in two ways: Somebody (probably the author)
draping in the moonlight and waiting FOR the world to be in turmoils
or waiting WHILE the world is in turmoils.  "B?i h??ng" literally
means "red dust", but it is Vietnamized from the Sino-Vietnamese term
"h?ng tr?n", usually a poetic way to refer to the world.  Note that
"h??ng" is used instead of the usual "h?ng" to rhyme with "s??ng" in
the previous line.
3. Parallel to the first line.  Note that "bao" rhymes with "xao" in
the previous line.
4. "?ào" rhymes with "bao" in the 3rd line.

I hope this answers your question.  If you have still have questions
regarding this, please use the "Request for clarification" feature to
request for clarification before rating this answer.


Search strategy:
"b?i h??ng lao xao"
Vietnamese-English dictionary:
My personal knowledge

Request for Answer Clarification by purpzey-ga on 25 Aug 2005 23:59 PDT
First--Thank you. That explanation is quite clear and "chock full" of information. 

I understand of course that you didn't write the poem, and don't know
the writers intent. However, could one possible explanation be a
"seize the day" type idea.

There are two ways I sort of imagine this to work. First, that if the
immortals are on Peach Mountain that they have the luxury of worrying
("waiting for the world to be in turmoils") and we(mortals) do not. As
a result we should not worry ourselves with what is to come but "live
in the now."

Also, the last two lines, specifically line 4 seems to indicate that
such waiting and dreaming may not be good. That is to say, we are
waiting or dreaming our lives away. Indicated by "sleeping...for a
long time already!"

As I write this question I see perhaps a completely opposite possible
interpretation. Perhaps the writer feels that such dreaming is to be
rewarded. "putting on a moonly coat" (in my words "waiting in the
shadows") and avoiding any possible danger. Of course, line 3 in
combination with the beggining of line 4 (Draped in poetry) may imply
a good thing. That "we are dreamers, and poets--not those who bring
turmoil but those who know it will come anyway." So that, "sleeping on
Peach Mountain" would be something worth praise or reward.

As I mentioned, I do understand you don't neccesarily know the authors
intent. I just thought that perhaps since you can understand the poem
better in its original language and context you might more apt to see
its message. To clarify: I understand your follow-up to this request
may not merely be a "black or white" "right or wrong" sort of answer.
However, I am just trying to gain as much understanding of this poem
as possible. (It is poetry after all).

Thanks again, an advance!

Clarification of Answer by secret901-ga on 26 Aug 2005 01:44 PDT
My translation of the poem is just one possible way to translate it. 
Intepreting it another way, it might turn out to be a romantic poem
describing Non ?ào itself.  In Vietnamese poetry, the moon never
symbolizes anything bad.  The moon is a sign of feminiity, beauty and
perfection, and it is almost a cliché in Vietnamese poetry.  Its
personification is H?ng Nga (Chang'e in Chinese mythology, see

Line 4 is particularly hard to translate.  Reading it literally, it
doesn't have a subject and can be intepreted like I've translated it
earlier.  However, poets sometimes use an inverted word order in their
poetry so that it fits the meter (sort of like Yoda-speak).  If we
make that assumption, then the line can be roughly translated as
"Draped in poetry, Peach Mountain had been lying down to sleep for a
long time."

Line 2 is also subject to another interpretation. In particular "lao
xao" does not exactly translate to "turmoils", it just means a lot of
movement and action, so I guess a better translation would be
"hubbub".  We can also interpret it as "The lunar coat to be worn
waits for the the world to spring into action".

Reading back the poem, I am inclined to believe that the poem is
describing the mountain itself.  It says so in the title, but can also
be seen in the poem:
1. They are misty, we are misty (the mountain is misty)
2. The lunar coat to be worn waits for the world to spring into action
(it is draped in moonlight, and the world around it is peaceful)
3. They dream, we dream (the mountain appears like it's dreaming)
4. Draped in poetry, Peach Mountain had been lying down to sleep for a
long time. (the mountain had been legendary for being quiet such that
many poems have been written about it, such as this one).

Of course, that's just my interpretation.  I have contacted the person
who posted it on the page where I found it in hope of learning about
its origins.  I hope that shed some light into some things.  If you
need more clarification, please don't hesitate to request for


Request for Answer Clarification by purpzey-ga on 26 Aug 2005 09:14 PDT
That is really interesting and does in fact clarify it quite a bit.
Given the second translation you suggested I can totally understand
that interpretation. In fact, in my mind, it is a more beautiful poem
as simply describing this mythical and "magical" mountain. A mountain
that need do nothing but sleep and be silent, while poets describe its

Would this be more common (or classic) of Vietnamese or Asian poetry?
That it is  more aesthetic than metaphoric? That is to say, that in
fact, the poem may not be some over arcing metaphor for life (or
people, et al.) but in fact is just describing in ornate language this
mountain that merely by exsisting (or "being itself") inspires poetry.

My logic being that I have had some study in the religions of Japan
and China. During that academia I had often heard the idea posited
that these religions (and/or cultures) can often focus on the larger
things outside the individual.  That is to say, they grant less
importance to the individual than the group (or to the brillance of
nature; in this case). I would not like to make the assumption that
just because Vietnamese poetry (and culture) is Asian that it follows
the same logos. It was just an idea I thought you might be able to
respond to.

Also I am interested to see (if he/she responds) what the person who
posted the poem on that board had to add or explain. Would it be best
then not to "rate the answer" just yet--thereby giving he/she an
oppourtunity to contact you and you to interpret and "bounce" that to

Clarification of Answer by secret901-ga on 26 Aug 2005 13:22 PDT
In my experience, poetry describing nature are rarely about nature
itself, but metaphorical for other things.  The poet might be making
social commentary, or writing about a taboo subject, and was not in a
position to state it explicitly (see Nguy?n Du's masterpiece Truy?n
Ki?u[1] and much of the poetry of the renowned 18th century poetess H?
Xuân H??ng).  For example, H? Xuân H??ng's poem Hang C?c C? (C?c C?
Grotto - is ostensibly
about a cave, but one can interpret it as an erotic poem describing
certain parts of the human anatomy.

To interpret this poem metaphorically, it helps to have some
background information about the author and the time it was written. 
I have no such information, so I sorry to be unable to shed some light
into this.

The person whom I contacted haven't replied yet.  You can choose to
rate (or not rate) this answer at any time you like; it will not
affect my ability to reply to your clarification requests.


Request for Answer Clarification by purpzey-ga on 26 Aug 2005 16:30 PDT
Ok that makes sense. Do you know who the author is? or might you
suggest a way to approach finding out (If neccesary this might include
non-internet research e.g. library)? I could continue some of that
research myself--The more I find out about this the more I find myself

If I could figure out who the author was or when the poem was written
perhaps that would shed some light into the possible metaphor being
employed. Whether it is a social commentary or merely a
"representative" work.

In part what intrigues me is of course the poem itself. But beyond
that, if it is merely a poem "like any other"--that is to say, it
doesn't have some special significance, why make such an ornate image
of it? What I mean to say is, why did the artist/caligrapher choose
this poem before thousands of others.

I will rate the answer sometime later tonight. There is no holdup
except I have already made myself late to a family commitment by
entering the request for clarification.

Thanks again, this whole discourse has been quite interesting and intruiging.

Request for Answer Clarification by purpzey-ga on 26 Aug 2005 16:38 PDT
**quick addition to last clarification**

Also, what context was the poem brought up on that Vietnamese website
posted (it looked like a forum)? I was thinking that perhaps that
would give me some more insight.

Clarification of Answer by secret901-ga on 26 Aug 2005 17:58 PDT
Hi again purpzey,
Unfortunately, I don't know the author of the poem as the only online
reference I found was at that page.  That page didn't give any
information about the poem, because it's somebody's blog (online
diary).  The poster is posting whatever strikes her fancy.  Other
poems that she posted were mostly dealing with nature, so it's not a
stretch to say that this is a poem about nature as well.

I've posted the contents of your poem on forums about Vietnamese
poetry in hope of finding some interpretations and its origin.  I
think that this is the best we can do right now, since it's virtually
impossible to find such a short poem in anthologies of Vietnamese


Clarification of Answer by secret901-ga on 31 Aug 2005 19:50 PDT
Hi again purpzey,
I'm sorry to say that I have nothing new to report.  Nobody has heard
of this poem, which caused somebody to speculate that it might have
been translated from a foreign language or written by an amateur poet
(to put it mildly).  I was told that the other poems on the
site are not famous either, so it might just be an ordinary poem
embellished with calligraphy to sell to tourists at tourist

purpzey-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
This researcher is outstanding! Not only did he/she answer my question
however, in my opinion he/she went far beyond that. Originally my
question was merely to have a poem translated. This researcher
translated the poem and then helped me to understand its meaning.
He/she even went so far as to post a copy of the poem to Vietnamese
forums in order to help me find an author or context for it. I am
floored at the level of service provided by this researcher. Thank you
for a complete job very well done.

Subject: Re: Translation of Poem of the "Non Dao"
From: myoarin-ga on 26 Aug 2005 10:08 PDT
Purzey and Secret901,  
This has been very interesting.  
Purzey, the question has been "answered" (paid, unless you request it
to be removed, which sounds unlikely).  You can rate it later, no
hurry, and of course don't close the question (please), which would
make any further postings impossible.
Subject: Re: Translation of Poem of the "Non Dao"
From: pinkfreud-ga on 26 Aug 2005 10:52 PDT
Please note that rating an answer does NOT close it to further
comments. When Researchers refer to a rating "closing" a question,
this means only that the rating is final and cannot be changed, and
that a rating should not be assigned until the customer has given the
Researcher an opportunity to clarify the answer, if such clarification
is requested.

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