Luc bat

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Lục-bát, or “six-eight," is a form of Vietnamese verse. It is composed of couplets with six syllables in the first line and eight in the second line. Each sixth syllable of the eight-syllable line rhymes with the sixth syllable of the previous line, which in turn rhymes with the eighth syllable of the line preceding it. Lục-bát is most commonly found in examples of Vietnamese folk poetry and song, particularly the ca dao.

An example of ca dao written in lục-bát:

Trâu ơi, ta bảo trâu này,
Trâu ra ngoài ruộng trâu cày với ta.
Cày cấy giữ nghiệp nông gia,
Ta đây, trâu đấy, ai mà quản công?
Bao giờ cây lúa có bông,
Thi còn ngọn cỏ ngoài đồng trâu ăn.
Buffalo, let me tell you something,
Go out and plow with me,
Out in the field, be a farmer.
Me here, you there, who's griping?
As long as the rice stalks are blooming,
There'll be blades of grass for you to eat.
(tr. Linh Đinh)

However, the verse form was not confined to ca dao. Famous literati and poets, including Nguyễn Du and Hồ Xuân Hương, have used it in their works, most notably in Truyện Kiều by the former:

Trăm năm, trong cõi người ta,
Chữ tài, chữ mệnh, khéo là ghét nhau.
Trải qua một cuộc bể dâu,
Những điều trông thấy mà đau đớn lòng;
Lạ gì bỉ sắc, tư phong,
Trời xanh quen thói má hồng đánh ghen.

A hundred years – in this life span on earth
talent and destiny are apt to feud.
You must go through a play of ebb and flow
and watch such things as make you sick at heart.
Is it so strange that losses balance gains?
Blue Heaven’s wont to strike a rose from spite.
(tr. Huỳnh Sanh Thông)

Lily Chiu started this entry.