Vietnamese poems portray Hanoi’s beauty

The Hanoitimes - Every Vietnamese is assumed to hold deep pride in Hanoi and expresses their love for the capital city in various ways. To the artists, that love is revealed through their works.


The beauty of Hanoi has been featured in many folks, from its people, streets, scenic spots, cultural relics to cuisine. Particularly, the folk about Hanoi’s 36 streets have been imprinted in every Vietnamese’s mind.

 Hanoi’s autumn night/ Photo: Cao Anh Tuan

Not only proud of the beauty of Hanoi’s streets, its citizens have also felt proud of their inherent elegant personality. Some poems about Hanoi were written by identified authors, but due to their popularity, they have become the common property of Vietnamese people and been considered as Vietnamese folk. Duong Khue’s poem is one of such cases.

Before being named “Hanoi” as present, the capital had had several names throughout history, including Thang Long (1010 – 1399), Dong Do (1400 – 1406), Dong Quan (1407 – 1428) and Dong Kinh (1430 – 1786).

During the medieval period of Vietnamese poetry, Thang Long used to be the most mentioned name and even became a symbol of a prosperous and golden period of the nation, associated with the two dynasties Ly – Tran that existed for nearly four centuries with many achievements and brilliant victories.

A series of poems by famous authors in the second half of the 18th century and the first half of the 19th century use the name “Thang Long” as a memory of an unforgettable period. One of the most famous poems by celebrated female poet Ba Huyen Thanh Quan has “Thang Long” in its title – “Thang Long thanh hoai co” (nostalgic Thang Long) – with poetic words, full of nostalgia and regrets.

Some famous Vietnamese poems in the 20th and 21st centuries still use the name Thang Long like those by General Huynh Van Nghe or poet Do Trung Lai.

 Thang Long Bridge/ Photo: Cao Anh Tuan

Images of Hanoi during the war time is vividly portrayed in poetic works during the 1945 -1975 with many levels of emotions. Particularly, during the resistance war against the French, there were many beautiful romantic poems, like “Hanoi’s nights are cold/ The sad roof listens to the falling dracontomelon” by Chinh Huu or “Early, cold in the heart of Hanoi / The streets are long and sad/ People do not turn out to lead again/Leaves behind shelves full of sunshine” by Nguyen Dinh Thi.

However, besides its romance, Hanoi’s bravery and determination to sacrifice for the country are also emerged in many poems like “Villages we passed by” by Quang Dung or “Remember the Capital during the resistance wars” by Hoai Anh.

A highlighted poem about Hanoi during the resistance war against the American is the “My dear, Hanoi Streets” – a 23-piece epic poem by Phan Vu written in 1972, when Hanoi was conducting the “Airy Dien Bien Phu combat” against the US air-force. Nearly of the poem’s 500 lines are full of passion and grief, revoking among readers a Hanoi with so many feelings, as if a thousand years have converged in one moment.

Also in 1972, poet Luu Quang Vu wrote Kham Thien, a long poem that showed a picture of reality and brutality that Hanoi used to suffer, which is also a condemnation of the fierce crime of the enemy during the wars.

After 1975 until now, Hanoi has resumed its peaceful time, being associated with individual stories, feelings and confidences. And only the sincerity in the love for Hanoi is the only source that makes poems and verses lingering in readers’ memories.

 A Hanoi street/ Photo: Linh – Hanoi’s stories group

There are poems that do not mention Hanoi in its verses but are full of Hanoi’s landmarks, like Gui chi (to my dear sister) by Nguyen Hung Vy. Meanwhile, the painful nostalgia of the person who had to leave Hanoi for a long time on returning was the inspiration for poet Thanh Tung’s work, Hanoi, making the readers move into tears.

Many great poems praising Hanoi have also become lyrics for many famous songs that have been imprinted in listeners’ hearts, which have given them a new lease of life.

There is also another Hanoi in female poetic voices with its own colors. In recent years, Dang Ha My is probably the female poet who writes about Hanoi the most.Her book of poetry Nhien so (released by Literature Publishing House in 2011) includes 46 works, more than a third of which have written about Hanoi or have verses about the capital. The nostalgia of the girl who was born and raised in Hanoi but now has to live overseas could be felt through various lines of her poems.

Bui Sim Sim, another Hanoi female poet, showcases her loneliness in a long night away from her lover. “Is it too long a week?/ I do feel the days are so long, without you/ In a Hanoi night full of autumn flower fragrance/ The stars with me turn towards the horizon and cry (Hanoi – a missing night).