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A collection of poetry originally written in the eighteen century by a woman named Ho Xuan Huong. The text has been translated from Nom, a rare dialect of Vietnamese, to English, by John Balaban of NCSU. Spring Essence is the first time that the rare Nom character set has ever been printed.

Huong's writing has lude overtones based upon the additional important aspect of tone in the Vietnamese dialect. The same sound, when read with an ascending tone can mean something very different with a descending or a steady tone, for example.

Fate and my parents shaped me like a snail,
day and night wandering marsh weeds that smell foul.

Kind sir, if you want me, open my door.
But please don't poke up into my tail.
--from "River Snail"

The phrase representing "open my door" refers both to a door and to a brassiere, says Claire Sykes of http://www.pw.org/mag/sykesnews.htm .

As one might imagine, the translation of poems with such double entendres is exceptionally difficult.

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