Poems of Hồ Xuân Hương : - Three-Mountain Pass

岧𠀧隊Three-Mountain Pass
A cliff face. Another. And still a third.
Who was so skilled to carve this craggy scene:
the cavern’s red door, the ridge’s narrow cleft,
the black knoll bearded with little mosses?
A twisting pine bough plunges in the wind,
showering a willow’s leaves with glistening drops.
Gentlemen, lords, who could refuse, though weary
and shaky in his knees, to mount once more?
Đèo Ba Dội
Một đèo, một đèo, lại một đèo,
Khen ai khéo tạc cảnh cheo leo.
Cửa son đỏ loét tùm hum nóc,
Hòn đá xanh rì lún phún rêu.
Lắt lẻo cành thông cơn gió thốc,
Đầm đìa lá liễu giọt sương gieo.
Hiền nhân, quân tử ai mà chẳng...
Mỏi gối, chồn chân vẫ muốn trèo.
Maurice Durand notes that this range is almost certainly the Đèo Tam Điệp in central North Vietnam where the mountains are calcareous and of a blackish color but, he adds innocently, "On n’a pas de grotte avec une grande ouventure." While an actual landscape may have suggested this poem to Hồ Xuân Hương (as well as “Viewing Cắc-Cớ Cavern”), the particular contours--the active pine and willows--comprise a sexual landscape as well. Pines traditionally stand for men; willows, for women.