Imperial Palace, Hue
It’s not enough to invade the land.
You must control the mountains and seas,
the river deltas and alluvial plains.
You must infiltrate their barbarisms,
their drum dances, their burial practices.
You must vanquish the Trưng fairies
and crush the rebellions they have inspired.
Be on guard. The water people are as liquid
as the tributaries that empower them.
Once subdued, don’t impose high taxes.
The savages will revolt
and burn down your prefectures.
Above all, you must tranquilize the native lords
and inculcate in them the Confucian way.
Only then will we control a kingdom
of bronze and water.
Only then will we have a commandery
of rhino horns and scented woods.