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Ben Tre commemorating the 110th year passing away of patriotic poet Phan Van Tri

26/06/2020 12:05 |

On the morning of June 20, 2020, at the People's Committee of Thanh Phu Dong Commune, Giong Trom District, Ben Tre Provincial Party Committee, People's Council, People's Committee and the Viet Nam Fatherland Front Committee solemnly commemorated the 110th year of the loss of patriotic poet Phan Van Tri. Present at the commemoration were Mr Truong Vinh Trong – former member of the Poliburo of the Central Party Committee, former Deputy Prime Minister; former provincial leaders; Mr. Phan Van Mai - Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee, Mr Tran Ngoc Tam – Permanent Deputy Secretary of the Provincial Party Committee; Mr. Nguyen Van Duc – Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee.


Provincial leadership and delegates attended a traditional ritual at the Temple of Phan Van Tri. (Photo by Truong Hung)

In the review of the life and career of poet Phan Van Tri, Vice Chairman of Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Van Duc said that Phan Van Tri was among the country's patriotic poets, typical for the nation's patriotic literature against foreign invasion at the end of the nineteenth century. He was in the same age with poet Nguyen Dinh Chieu. His life and literary works are bright pages about patriotism, carrying an unyielding fighting spirit right from the early days the French colonialists invaded our country.

Phan Van Tri was born in the lunar year of Canh Dan (1830), in Hung Thanh village, Bao An town, Hoang An district, Vinh Thanh province (now Thanh Phu Dong commune, Giong Trom district, Ben Tre province). Since a young age, Phan Van Tri has shown his intelligent trait and a keen mind for learning. He studied very well and passed the Huong examination held in the 3rd year of Tu Duc dynasty (the lunar year of Ky Dau, 1849), got a bachelor degree, ranked 10th out of 17 bachelors. Since then, people in the area called him Bachelor Tri.


An extracted scene from the "Nhu anh sao Khue" theatrical piece about the life and career of patriotic poet Phan Van Tri. (Photo by Truong Hung)

With that talent, he could take the Hoi examination in Hue to become an official, but Bachelor Tri had great ambitions of a patriotic Confucian scholar. He therefore did not take the Hoi examination to become an official, but chose to live frugally by teaching, writing proses, poems, and giving the medications to local patients.

In 1856, along with other artists at the time, he co-founded the Bach Mai Poetry Club, which has been seen as the traditionally continuation from the Chieu Anh Cac in Ha Tien and Binh Duong Poetry Club in Gia Dinh. As the French conquerers overtook Da Nang, and then occupied Gia Dinh, facing the turbulent times, Phan Van Tri definitely chose to stand by the people, and strongly refused to collaborate with the French. He was an opponent of his fellow scholar Ton Tho Tuong, who chose to kowtow to the strong power in exchange for personal benefits.


Participants at the commemoration. (Photo by Truong Hung)

After the French occupied 3 South-Eastern provinces, Phan Van Tri along with Nguyen Thong, Nguyen Dinh Chieu and many other artists started a "refuge" movement in order not to collaborate with the French. In 1867, the French went on to took control of three South-Western provinces, Phan Van Tri moved on to Nhon Ai Village, Dinh Bao commune, Vinh Dinh district, Ba Xuyen prefecture, An Giang province (it is now Nhon Ai town, Phong Dien district, Can Tho City) and continued with teaching and giving the medications to local people.

Phan Văn Trị composed literary works for the purpose of fighting the enemy. He turned his literature into a weapon to destroy his enemies. Prominent in his poetry is the spirit of patriotism and an earnest love for the people. He suffered from the pain of the people, and always expressed sympathy and support for the leaders and insurgents against the French.

In his literary career, the most typical is the polemics against Ton Tho Tuong, which made waves across the Southern literary forum in the second half of the 19th century. His poems and verses really fanned out direct attacks on the French followers and henchmen.


Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Van Duc delivered a speech reviewing the life and career of patriotic poet Phan Van Tri. (Photo by Truong Hung)

That polemics were not only the ideological and cultural battle field, but also aroused a national movement of ideological struggling that ran for more than 10 years and attrack lots of famous artists at the time such as Bui Huu Nghia, Ho Huna Nghiep, Huynh Man Dat, etc.

Phan Van Tri passed away on June 22, 1910 (or the 16 of the Fifth month of lunar year Canh Tuat) on the side of Cai Tac Canal, Tra Nieng, Phong Dien, Can Tho. He left an invaluable legacy – the spirit of patriotism, a resilient fighting spirit against the enemy. That spiritual legacy has always been preserved and promote in this modern age.

In order to show our reverence and gratefulness to poet Phan Van Tri, Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Van Duc demanded that comrades, members of the Party and the people, particularly the artists, teachers and doctors and health workers, students across the province spare no efforts to learn, to practise and to follow the way and life led by poet Phan Van Tri.

Specifically, we should uphold the spirit of patriotism, raise the spirit of progressive revolution, uphold the aspiration to rise up against poverty, to enrich ourselves, our family, and our country. We should ceaselessly study and train ourselves. Do keep ourselves consistent with the Party's goals and ideals. Do not be vague, wavering. Do not let go of guard against the sabotage tactics from hostile forces in the field of ideology and culture.

The Vice Chairman of the Provincial People's Committee suggested the Party Committee and the people of Thanh Phu Dong Commune, Giong Trom District, pay attention to promoting the value of the relic. Regularly maintain and preserve the relic, making it a place to preserve the spiritual value of a celebrity, and a big personality – the Phan Van Tri personality.

Written and translated by Truong Hung