Green Rice: Introductory Thoughts

Looking at the introductory text towards the Green Rice poem collection, I can clearly see that these poems are not just a reflection of the poet Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ’s history, but also commentary on the limited social standing that women have within society. Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ also mentions specifically the “traditionally Confucian culture”(xiii) as to blame for this gender imbalance of right; however, having said that it seems that she doesn’t question the validity of such beliefs. Instead, she establishes that women can be more capable than given credit for, all thanks towards their “cultural base” (xiii). I find this particularly interesting as this distances her from other feminist poets, but this could all stem from her specific upbringing as a young Vietnamese girl growing up in the Vietnam war.

The introduction also specifically mentions the motif of passing time, which most certainly is prevalent–especially after reading through the poem collection myself. Taking into consideration of the examples given in the introduction and the poems themselves, Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ flitters through different perspectives of women, being both young and old at certain times. I like to think that Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ does this to represent not only women of her age and stature, but also the young girls and old women that also contributed towards the war. In class, we also read certain articles on the different roles that Vietnamese women had during the Vietnam War, and I noticed that across different historical recounts, the role that Vietnamese women had are unfortunately underrated. To me, it seems very likely that Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ is not only writing these poems to reflect upon her life, but also the thousands of women during the Vietnam War.

Regarding form, this introduction also talks about how the English translation was adapted from the original collection of poems written in Vietnamese. I’m surprised that the translator had such in-depth conversations with Lâm Thị Mỹ Dạ, meaning that the English version wasn’t just a simple literal translation. Instead, different literary devices such as the poems’ flow, were “translated” as well through the lack of punctuation in separate lines. I think that although the emotional connection of the Vietnamese language is clearly disregarded in the English translation, the emotional weight of such translations allow Martha Collin’s version of Green Rice to be just as valuable as an insight into the perspective of Vietnamese women in the Vietnam War and its aftermath.

1 thought on “Green Rice: Introductory Thoughts

  1. I never thought of her use of the motif of passing time as a way to convey multiple generations of women simultaneously, that is so smart! I am definitely going to pay more attention to the correlation between time/age and the women in the poems, thanks!

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