Truyện Kiều – The Tale of Kieu (Verses 1195-1230)

Truyện Kiều (Câu 1195-1230)

1195.
Kiếp xưa đã vụng đường tu,
Kiếp này chẳng kẻo đền bù mới xuôi.
Dẫu sao bình đã vỡ rồi,
Lấy thân mà trả nợ đời cho xong!
Vừa tuần nguyệt sáng gương trong,

1200.
Tú bà ghé lại thong dong dặn dò:
“Nghề chơi cũng lắm công phu,
Làng chơi ta phải biết cho đủ điều.
Nàng rằng: “Mưa gió dập dìu,
Liều thân thì cũng phải liều thế thôi!”

1205.
Mụ rằng: “Ai cũng như ai,
Người ta ai mất tiền hoài đến đây?
Ở trong còn lắm điều hay,
Nỗi đêm khép mở nỗi ngày riêng chung.
Này con thuộc lấy làm lòng,

1210.
Vành ngoài bảy chữ, vành trong tám nghề.
Chơi cho liễu chán hoa chê,
Cho lăn lóc đá, cho mê mẩn đời.
Khi khóe hạnh khi nét ngài,
Khi ngâm ngợi nguyệt, khi cười cợt hoa.

1215.
Đều là nghề nghiệp trong nhà,
Đủ ngần ấy nết mới là người soi!”
Gót đầu vâng dạy mấy lời,
Dường chau nét nguyệt dường phai vẻ hồng.
Những nghe nói đã thẹn thùng,

1220.
Nước đời lắm nỗi lạ lùng, khắt khe!
Xót mình cửa các buồng khuê,
Vỡ lòng học lấy những nghề nghiệp hay!
Khéo là mặt dạn mày dày,
Kiếp người đã đến thế này thì thôi!

1225.
Thương thay thân phận lạc loài,
Dẫu sao cũng ở tay người biết sao!
Lầu xanh mới rủ trướng đào,
Càng treo giá ngọc càng cao phẩm người.
Biết bao bướm lả ong lơi,

(English Version)

The Tale of Kieu (Verses 1195-1230)

Author: Nguyễn Du
Translation: Đặng Hoàng Lan

1195. I was evil in my previous life, perhaps
In this life I can make reparations, I desperately hope so.
As of today, this vessel, tho innocent, is shattered,
My mind has no memory of it, but it seems I will pay with my body.”
Now Kiều rested and hoped to recover and face this tragic life anew.

1200. Soon enough Dame Tu appeared, seemingly leisurely, giving advice.
“It isn’t easy, keeping men entertained, it requires diligence.
To find success in a whorehouse, you must understand, it is an art.”
“Customers come here to have fun, and I risk myself competing”
Kieu retorted. “I risk all I am, just to please them.”

1205. Dame Tu went on with her instruction, “If all sex were the same,
No man would waste his money to come to a place like this.
There is more to desire than what a man can see or touch.
Play up the mystery and drama at night and be kind during the day,
Heed my words, they are hard earned with my years of experience!

1210. There are fifteen strategies you must employ, verbal and physical.
You must excite them until they are utterly exhausted,
Until their heads spin and their stone heart splinters.
Next, throw a sharp glance, or curve your brows as in disapproval.
Then, as tho disinterested, praise the moon, or stroke a flower.

1215. These skills are exclusive methods of this house,
You need to memorize them, I expect you to excel.”
While hearing Dame Tu Kieu squirmed, from beginning to end.
She appeared queasy and her face drained to pale, gray even,
This delicate flower felt shame just listening to these edicts.

1220. Life is so unwieldly and harsh and cruelly bizarre!
Coming from a good family to end up entirely defeated,
While still only a girl, forcefully apprenticed in this gruesome trade.
She is living now such a demeaning life she did not choose!
Her shame is not earned but stinks and stings just the same!

1225.
Truly, a heartbreak to see one with such a lonely fate, adrift!
No defense occurred to her to become free from Tu’s clutches.
In the whorehouse, Tu had drawn the curtains in Kieu’s room.
To attract more and more men she set a higher price to have her,
And our dear Kieu found herself swarmed by butterflies and bees.

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