Poem: “That Night I Dreamt of Langchen La…” By Woeser

1957, Thangka display at Potala Palace, an elephant dressed up as one of the “Seven Treasures” is circling around (Taken from the internet).

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem by Woeser written on May 17, 2017, and published on her blog on June 9, 2017

Langchen is the Tibetan word for elephant and “La” denotes the honourific. It is documented that the 13th Dalai Lama’s zoo acquired an elephant from Nepal in the early 1900’s. The elephant is also a symbol for, and a connection with, India in the poem.

 

“That Night I Dreamt of Langchen La…”
By Woeser

 

“That night I dreamt of Langchen La…” I murmur.
I do not want to open my eyes, so that this mythical animal
Would not gradually fade away, as if it did not exist.
I must immediately record this joyous encounter with the past
So that I do not forget it, so that I do not return to the hazy reality.
I have to tell everyone: Langchen La, the Tibetan term of endearment for elephant,
Coming from India, walking on the path that His Holiness later took,
Its long nose swaying back and forth, with its big ears like fans and its four heavy legs.
The Tibetans along the road stand in awe of this miracle, because it is one of the seven treasures.
Both palms together in prayer, feeling profound love, every time it appears, it is a festival.
Past generations of Dalai Lamas would let it live in the Dzongyab Lukhang [1] behind the Phodrang [2],
The Hindi speaking waiter is wearing a white cloth around his head,
In times of homesickness, its presence makes one feel at home whereever one is.
Until the 1950s, when the world turned upside down, unpredictably
And irreversibly, a hundred thousand people followed His Holiness and left their home in sadness.
At a time when danger lurked everywhere, it led the way,
But when arriving at the town of the Kalachakra
Its body was snow white, its six tusks pure and clean [3], like a thangka [4] painting…
Like a prophecy fallen from the sky, when turning Langchen La into script,
I see this image: at sunrise, a snowflake in the shape of the Eternal Wheel of Life
“Slowly settling down on a monk’s robes at Shari Monastery [5] …” [6]

May 17, 2017, Beijing

Notes:

[1] Dzongyab Lukhang : Tibetan, Temple behind the Potala Palace. Dragon Pond in Chinese.
[2] Phodrang: Tibetan, palace. Refers to the Potala Palace.
[3] One of the 7 treasures of Vajrayana, the 6 tusks represent the Six Perfections: charity, morality, patience, diligence, contemplation, and wisdom.
[4] Thangka: Tibetan, a Buddhist painting on a scroll.
[5] Shari Monastery: Located in Chumarleb County, Kham, in the eastern part of Tibet (today it is Chumarleb County, Yushu Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province).
[6] This last sentence is for a friend.