Guest poem submitted by Laura Germine:
A female Vietnamese poet of the late 18th century, Ho Xuan Huong has been referred to as the Asian Sappho because of the sexual themes and uniqueness of her poetry. Living in a Confucian society during a period in which women did not enjoy great freedom or status, Ho Xuan Huong was nevertheless recognized during her time and continues to be well-known in Vietnam today. Her poetry can often be read in a variety of ways. Often, there is one layer of meaning which refers to nature. This layer, however, barely conceals the sexual undertones common to almost all her poems. This poem for instance, is superficially describing a Vietnamese dessert. It is not difficult to see, however, that the poem is also her assertion that no matter how much her body is mistreated by men, she still is able to keep herself and her integrity intact. The dessert the poem is referring yo, by the way, can be said to bear some similarity to female breasts. For those of you who are Vietnamese, here is the original, and much less mangled version: (forgive me that I can't put the accents in) Banh Troi Nuoc Than em vua trang lai vua tron Bay noi ba chim voi nuoc non Ran nat mac dau tay ke nan Ma em van giu tam long son -- Ho Xuan Huong Laura Germine.