Poems of Hồ Xuân Hương : 哭翁總𧋉 - Lament for Commissioner Cóc

Title:哭翁總𧋉 - Lament for Commissioner Cóc
Oh, Cóc! Oh, dear. Oh, dear Cóc !
All we had together came down to this:
the tadpole’s lots his tail. A pile of gold
cannot restore his pale painted warts
Notes:In the original, the poem begins as a peasant funeral lament, in the style still sung todaỵ Hồ Xuân Hương is mocking her dead husband by punning on his name Cóc, or “Toad”. Maurice Durand (L’ CEuvre de la poétesse vietnamienne Hồ Xuân Hương [Paris: Adrien-Maisonneuve, 1968], p. 160) says that line three is also an entire pun indicating “relations sexuelles ininterrompues ” and suggesting that all they had going in this husband-concubine relationship was sex. a further pun may lie in the echo to cóc vàng, or “golden toad,” a phrase for someone rich but stupid. Clearly, this was a marriage of convenience. Durand also notes a further echo in the proverb: Thà rằng chết mất thì thôi. Sống còn như cóc bôi vôi lại về. Just die and get it over with. Alive, we look like the toad come back covered in lime.