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Ngô Xuân Diệu (February 2, 1916 – December 18, 1985) more commonly known by the pen name Xuân Diệu, was a prominent Vietnamese poet. A colossal figure in modern Vietnamese literature, he wrote about 450 poems (largely in posthumous manuscripts) especially love poems, several short stories, and many notes, essays, and literary criticisms.

Life

He was born in Gò Bồi, Tùng Giản commune, Tuy Phước District, Bình Định Provincemarker, Vietnammarker (maternal homeland). His father was Ngô Xuân Thọ, a teacher, and his mother was Nguyễn Thị Hiệp. He studied in Qui Nhơnmarker, Huếmarker, and later Hanoimarker (1938-1940). He obtained a degree in agricultural engineering in 1943 and worked in Mỹ Thomarker for a while before returning to Hanoi.

In 1943, he joined the Viet Minh and became one of the leading poets writing to promote resistance against the French.

Although well-known for his love poems, he married only briefly before separating from his wife in his youth and died a bachelor. Many people believe that he was homosexual along with his lifelong friend the famous poet Huy Cận, as shown through his many poems about love dedicated to (and apparently addressed to) various men. These poems include "Tình trai" ("Love of men", about the love affair between the French poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine) and "Em đi" ("You leaving", a heartfelt poem dedicated to a younger man with whom the poet shared a house for several years). In his memoirs published in 1993, the writer Tô Hoài confirmed that Xuân Diệu was reprimanded while in the Viet Minh for molesting other men in bed.

Works

Throughout his career, Xuân Diệu had been variously known as a romantic poet, "the greatest poet among the new poets", and "the king of love poems" (he himself gave Hồ Xuân Hương the sobriquet "the Queen of Nôm poetry").

He was a member of the literary movement Tự Lực Văn Đoàn (Self-sufficiency literary group) and one of the leaders of the Thơ Mới (New Poetry) movement. Representative works he wrote during this period include: Thơ Thơ (Poetry poem, 1938), Gửi Hương Cho Gió (Perfume Flies with the Wind, 1945), and the short story Phấn Thông Vàng (Golden Pine Pollen, 1939).

His poetry collections Thơ thơ and Gửi hương cho gió are regarded as his masterpieces. They glorify love, life, happiness, and love of life. By that, he also glorified youth, spring, and nature as the cradle for love. He also grieved for the passing of time, the precariousness of life and showed thirst for everlasting life.

His works are often studied by secondary school students in Vietnam. A street in Hanoi is named after him.

Notes

  1. Tô Hoài: Don’t expect much from old people. (2007-01-10). VietNamNet Bridge. Retrieved on 2007-04-11.
  2. Famous Vietnamese poet (Huy Cận) dies at 86 (2005-02-20). Thanh Niên News. Retrieved on 2007-04-11.


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