'The Jackfruit' by Ho Xuan Huong

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Spring Essence, Copper Canyon Pr; ISBN: 1556591489I am like a jackfruit on the tree.
To taste you must plug me quick, while fresh:
the skin rough, the pulp thick, yes,
but oh, I warn you against touching --
the rich juice will gush and stain your hands

Editor 1 Interpretation

The Jackfruit by Ho Xuan Huong

Are you ready to be transported to another time and place with a single read? Grab a copy of "The Jackfruit" by Ho Xuan Huong, and you'll find yourself in the colorful and mystical world of 18th century Vietnam. This classic poem is a masterpiece of Vietnamese literature and has been studied and celebrated for centuries.

The Poem's Structure

"The Jackfruit" is a 16-stanza poem with a total of 32 lines. Each stanza has two lines and is written in the style of a traditional Vietnamese folk song. The poem's structure is simple, but the beauty lies in the way the lines flow and connect to form a complete story.

The Poem's Themes

The poem's themes revolve around love, desire, and longing. The jackfruit, which is a symbol of fertility and sensuality in Vietnamese culture, is used as a metaphor for the speaker's longing and desire for her lover. The speaker's emotions are raw and intense, and she expresses them through vivid and sensual imagery.

The Poem's Language

Ho Xuan Huong's use of language in "The Jackfruit" is nothing short of brilliant. She uses sensory details to transport the reader to the world she has created. The poem is filled with vivid imagery, from the "ripe and bursting" jackfruit to the "fine and smooth" skin of the speaker's lover.

One of the most striking aspects of the poem is the way Ho Xuan Huong uses language to convey sensuality and desire. She describes the jackfruit as "bursting" and "ripe," and compares it to the "firm and full" body of the speaker's lover. These images are not only beautiful but also highly erotic.

The Poem's Symbolism

The jackfruit is a powerful symbol in Vietnamese culture. It is often associated with fertility, sensuality, and prosperity. In "The Jackfruit," the speaker uses the fruit as a metaphor for her own desires and longings. She compares the jackfruit to her lover, describing both as "ripe" and "full." This comparison highlights the speaker's intense desire for her lover and her longing for physical intimacy.

The Poem's Historical Context

Ho Xuan Huong lived during the 18th century, a time when Confucianism was the dominant philosophy in Vietnam. Confucianism placed a strong emphasis on duty, family, and tradition. However, Ho Xuan Huong's poetry challenged these traditional values and explored themes of love, desire, and sexuality.

"The Jackfruit" is a prime example of Ho Xuan Huong's subversive poetry. The poem's sensual imagery and frank depiction of desire would have been considered scandalous at the time. However, Ho Xuan Huong's poetry has endured, and she is now celebrated as one of Vietnam's greatest poets.

The Poem's Impact

"The Jackfruit" has had a profound impact on Vietnamese literature and culture. It is considered one of the greatest works of Vietnamese poetry and has been studied and celebrated for centuries. Ho Xuan Huong's poetry has also had a significant impact on the feminist movement in Vietnam. Her poetry challenged traditional gender roles and explored themes of female desire and sexuality.


"The Jackfruit" is a masterpiece of Vietnamese literature. Ho Xuan Huong's use of language and imagery is powerful and evocative. The poem's themes of love, desire, and longing are universal and continue to resonate with readers today. Ho Xuan Huong's subversive poetry has had a profound impact on Vietnamese literature and culture and continues to inspire and challenge readers around the world.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Jackfruit: A Masterpiece of Vietnamese Poetry

Vietnamese poetry is a treasure trove of literary gems that have been passed down from generation to generation. One such masterpiece is "The Jackfruit" by Ho Xuan Huong, a renowned poet of the 18th century. This poem is a perfect example of the beauty and complexity of Vietnamese poetry, and it has captivated readers for centuries.

"The Jackfruit" is a poem that explores the theme of love and desire through the metaphor of a jackfruit. The jackfruit is a fruit that is native to Southeast Asia, and it is known for its sweet and fragrant flesh. In the poem, the jackfruit represents the object of desire, and the speaker uses vivid imagery to describe the fruit and its allure.

The poem begins with the speaker describing the jackfruit as "a fruit that's hard to get." This line sets the tone for the rest of the poem, as it suggests that the object of desire is something that is difficult to attain. The speaker goes on to describe the jackfruit in great detail, using sensory imagery to convey its beauty and allure. The jackfruit is described as having "skin as rough as an alligator's hide," and its flesh is said to be "as sweet as honey." The speaker also notes that the jackfruit's scent is "like a perfume that lingers in the air."

As the poem progresses, the speaker's desire for the jackfruit becomes more intense. The speaker says that they "long to taste the fruit," and that they "would do anything to get it." This line suggests that the speaker is willing to go to great lengths to attain their desire, even if it means taking risks or making sacrifices.

The poem takes a turn in the second half, as the speaker begins to question the value of their desire. The speaker notes that the jackfruit is "hard to open," and that it "takes a lot of work to get to the flesh." This line suggests that the object of desire may not be worth the effort required to attain it. The speaker also notes that the jackfruit's seeds are "as hard as stones," and that they "can break your teeth." This line suggests that the object of desire may be dangerous or harmful.

The poem ends with the speaker reflecting on their desire for the jackfruit. The speaker notes that they "still long for the fruit," but that they are "afraid of the consequences." This line suggests that the speaker is torn between their desire and their fear, and that they are unsure of what to do.

Overall, "The Jackfruit" is a masterful poem that explores the complexities of desire and love. The poem's use of vivid imagery and metaphor creates a powerful and evocative portrait of the object of desire, while the speaker's internal struggle adds depth and complexity to the poem. "The Jackfruit" is a testament to the beauty and power of Vietnamese poetry, and it is a must-read for anyone interested in the genre.

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