From King Minh Mang to Thieu Tri and then Tu Duc king, there was a development of poetical-ness in the royal family, especially with Tu Duc king. He was worth bearing the title “a great poet” because of his talent, his love for poetry, and his works. Was that a genetic material from grandfather to grandson? Later, His Majesty was criticized that for 36 years sitting on the dragon throne, he did nothing but composing poems:
Nationwide, almost everybody enjoys reading Chinese poems by Li Po and Tu Fu,
And none knows anything happening in foreign countries like England or Russia.
His Majesty is so worried about taking back paddy fields instead of the lost citadels,.
He knows how to compose and recite poems only but that his soldiers are hungry and weak.
Read more: Minh Mang Mausoleum
Tu Duc king was sensitive and devoted to literature. His works contained an abundant content, showing his knowledge and talent in literature. Some of them were His Majesty’s Writings, Poems of Self-Learning, Ten Commandments, etc…. In fact, under Tu Duc reign, there were quite a few well-known mandarins noted for being good at literature such as Cao Ba Quat, Nguyen Van Sieu, Nguyen Ham Ninh, Nguyen Cong Tru, Tung Thien Vuong, Tuy Ly Vuong, etc… The King was once very proud of his courtiers and praised them as followed:
No one under the dynasty of Former Han could surpass Sieu and Quat in literature.
Also, Tung and Tuy’s poems defeated those under the prosperous dynasty of T’ang.
Though, political affairs were so complicated and confusing under his reign. His Majesty would be absorbed in the pleasure of composing poems after work with his courtiers. There were some funny literary anecdotes relating to this poem loving king. When having free time, Tu Duc king often enjoyed discussing and talking about literature with his courtiers.