PHAM SI AI (1806 - 1840)

Published on 07 - 08 - 2018

Pham Si Ai, also known as Don Nhan or Nghia Khe, was born in 1806 in Trung Chi commune, Duong Hao district, Hai Duong town (later changed as Trung Lap commune, My Hao district), now Phung Chi Kien commune, My Hao district, Hung Yen province.

Pham Si Ai is the grandson of Doctor Pham Si Thuyen. His father is Si Tu, a famous doctor. After graduating from school, he was admitted to Thang Long to learn with famous teachers, including Pham Quy Thich and then became Bac Ha celebrities as Nguyen Van Sieu, Cao Ba Quat, Nguyen Van Ly.

In 1828, Pham Si Ai passed a bachelor degree. He was later appointed to a number of mandarin positions in the court. In 1840, he was appointed as the chief of the examination in Gia Dinh, but unfortunately, when he was on duty, he was seriously ill and died. King Minh Menh ordered to bring his body to home, granted money to build his mausoleum and temple and ordained him as the royal of Nghia Lo village (also in Trung Lap commune that day). Later, the court also gave rice fields for the village to celebrate the anniversary of his death. Confucians in the district also set up his altar in Van Chi, My Hao district.

Pham Si Ai was admired by people and respected by the court. According to the remaining documents, he was an outstanding literary figure. He was one of the two who led the examination.

Although he was busy with the work in the court, he left many poems and writing. There were also two collections of poetry: Duong Trung Pham Don Nhan nguyen thao with 162 poems and Nghia Khe thi tap with 170 poems.

His poetry was beautiful in sentences and deep in meaning. He understood the mandarins' working environment, especially in his time, when King Minh Menh was very tough with talented people. He himself was a mandarin in the court, but his heart was more troubled.

Pham Si Ai was a friend of Nguyen Van Sieu, Cao Ba Quat and he had feelings for Cao Ba Quat. In the Duong Trung poetry collection, there were more than a dozen poems for Cao Ba Quat as follows: Cao Man Hien du Tay Ho, Van Cao Man Hien bat dac nhap truong chi tin, Tong Phu Thi Cao cu nhan, Hoa tien Cao Man Hien, Du Cao Chu Than da tich man thanh, Uc Cao Man Hien (Chu Than, Man Hien were the names of Cao Ba Quat).

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