Phan Van Tri (1830 - 1910)

Phan Van Tri
(1830 - 1910)

Phan Van Tri was a poet and a literary author, born in 1830 in Bao An District,Vinh Long Province, now is Thanh Phu Dong Commune, Giong Trom District,Ben Tre Province, son of Phan Van Tan, who was a chief housekeeper of the Governor Palace. Nine generations of his family were banned by the Nguyen Dynasty from being civil servant official. His father also was a military leader under Nguyen Anh to fight against the Tay Son forces. His wife was also born from a family of intellectuals. In 1849, the Ky Dau Lunar year under Tu Duc Dynasty, he achieved the Bachelor degree at the Gia Dinh syndicate school, in the same course with Nguyen Thong, another patriotic intellectual.

Phan Van Tri was not only pen friend of Nguyen Thong and Nguyen Dinh Chieu (both men were older than Tri), but also their comrades with the same ideal in the fight against the French colonialists and their henchmen.

After doing the Bachelor degree, his went to Binh Cach (now in Tan An Township of Long An Province) village for teaching, then he moved to Phong Dien Village (Can Tho Province) to continue teaching and giving medical treatment for local people until his final days. Today, his tomb is remained in this location.

Before the French invasion, his poetry was mostly landscape discriptions. Later, with the invasion and brutal treatment by the French colonialists, he turned his pen into a weapon of resisting against the French invaders and the country's betrayers. He criticized straight in the face of Ton Tho Tuong, one of the most notorious betrayer at the time, calling him "the stupid guy", the "stinking sort of bloke". He used his pen to attack this bold-faced abetter on all aspects, any time and any where. He triggered and led the largest pen war against Tuong and his accomplices.

Phan Van Tri is considered as a patriot artist with a clear, determined, and sagacious mind and a nationalist consciousness. He deserved to be honoured as one of the famous patriotic poets, who used their pen as a weapon to fight the colonialists.

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