Ho Xuan Huong

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Ho Xuan Huong


(pen name; real name unknown). Born in Nghean Province; dates of birth and death unknown. Vietnamese poet of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Ho Xuan Huong vividly expressed the humanist trends of 18th-century Vietnamese literature in her poetry. She glorified the beauty of life, the human body, and sensuality, employing lyric descriptions of the countryside. She ridiculed the sanctimoniousness of Buddhist monks and feudal mores. Ho Xuon Huong perfected the genre of the poetic miniature (quatrains and octaves), which became the model of classical Vietnamese poetry. Her poems are similar to folk poetry in their language, style, subject matter, and undisguised satire. The works of Ho Xuan Huong were published in the collection The Scent of Spring (Russian translation, 1976).


In Russian translation:
Stikhi. Moscow, 1968.


Nikulin, N. I. V’etnamskaia literatura. Moscow, 1971.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(2) The issues she raised are still of concern, particularly in the context of a surge in awareness of women's liberation movements and revolutionary thoughts within Vietnam in recent years, and the article will also consider the way Ho Xuan Huong's poetry of almost 200 years ago is viewed by present-day Vietnamese.
It was during this time of political struggle, social disorder and institutional change that the poet Ho Xuan Huong is believed to have grown up.
Although the poetry of Ho Xuan Huong's predecessors, Queen Mother Y Lan, Princess Ngoc Han, Doan thi Diem, and Ba Huyen Thanh Quan contributed to the diversity of Vietnamese literature, her voice remains uniquely bold and potently erotic.
Note: Ho Xuan Huong, like her mother, was a vo le, a concubine, or wife of second rank.
Note: Maurice Durand notes that this range is almost certainly the Deo Tam Diep in central North Vietnam where the mountains are calcareous and of a blackish color but, he adds innocently, "I'on n'a pas de grotte avec une grande ouventure." While an actual landscape may have suggested this poem to Ho Xuan Huong, the particular contours--the active pine and willows--comprise a sexual landscape as well.
Boc yem in line three means "remove covering," punning on the word for the operculum of the snail and its homonym, a kind of brassiere worn by women of Ho Xuan Huong's time.
Ho Xuan Huong was born at the end of the second Le Dynasty (1592-1788), a period of calamity and social disintegration.
Warfare, starvation, and corruption did not vanquish poets like Nguyen Du and Ho Xuan Huong, but deepened their work.
And these ca dao led him in turn to the poetry of Ho Xuan Huong, the 18th century concubine whose name translates as "Spring Essence."
I had previously read only two of Ho Xuan Huong's poems, both of which Copper Canyon Press had published in Balaban's collection Locusts at the Edge of Summer.