There is a legend that originates in Vietnamese culture that claims in times of turmoil a country will be blessed with the existence of a child poet. Tran Dang Khoa is thought to have been the realization of that legend. Born in 1958 near Hanoi, Khoa lived in an area of the country that was a main route for soldiers heading south into battle. There are many stories that relate how the young poet would recite his verses to soldiers as they waited until morning to resume their journey. Khoa’s poetry is known for its simple and clear verse.
When rain blackens the sky
I see a stork white as alabaster
Rice in the paddy ripples
But no one sees in the branches
When rain blackens again
I see that stork white as alabaster
(Translated by Nguyen Ba Chung and Fred Marchant)