"I Am Tibetan" and "My Tibetanness" – Two Poems by Gade Tsering

High Peaks Pure Earth has translated two poems by a young poet from Amdo called Gade Tsering. The poems are called “My Tibetanness” and “I Am Tibetan”.
Gade Tsering (spelled Gadai Tsering by official Chinese media) was born in 1981 in Amdo (today’s Qinghai Province) and is a prolific poet in Tibetan and Chinese languages. Here is a link to his Chinese language blog which is called “Tibet, or After the Last Sky” – http://blog.sina.com.cn/gadaicairang – and below is a screenshot of the blog:

High Peaks Pure Earth has noticed that Gade Tsering is very popular amongst Tibetan netizens. In TibetCul’s online poll to find the “Tibetan Personality of the Year” for 2009, many cultural figures were nominated, including strong support for Gade Tsering. As we mentioned in our introduction to the translation of the online poll, Gade Tsering also enjoys official literary acclaim. In October 2009, it was announced that he was in the “2009 China Top 10 Minority Poets” and he had previously received the titles of “National Top 10 Minority Poet” and “2006 Northwest Outstanding Poet”, amongst others.
The poem “My Tibetanness” by Gade Tsering was written in August 2009 and is dedicated to the outspoken India-based Tibetan poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue. In fact, the title of the poem comes from Tenzin Tsundue’s own poem “My Tibetanness”. The last verse of Tenzin Tsundue’s poem: I am Tibetan / But I am not from Tibet. / Never been there. / Yet I dream / of dying there. becomes the starting point of Gade Tsering’s poem.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, this poem was deleted by Sina soon after it was originally published on Gade Tsering’s blog on this URL: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_4821685d0100elk7.html
Here is the English translation of the poem:

“My Tibetanness” By Gade Tsering
— Dedicated to Tenzin Tsundue

“Somebody said to me:
You are Tibetan, I am also Tibetan.”
“I am Tibetan.
But I am not from Tibet.
Never been there.
Yet I dream
of dying there.”
You once again speak the truth!
“In a place far away from Tibet,
In a dark corner, you
See an endless sight,
A dark faced girl’s yearning for me makes me
feel sad;
My whole life.”
Smiling mercifully
Just remembering makes me want to cry
How many close relatives disappeared there, never to return
And how many joys and sorrows
Continue here —
“My life’s root guru,
In this life before death I’ll cross paths with you. ”
Caring for each other silently
For the sake of the mission which disappointed us by falling below our expectations
“Within, my body has already tied down
These bloodline roots. ”
Strong wind screams —
Butter lamps flicker
Soul-stirring mantra
How can it pour out of a soul be tarnished?
Prostrate on the ground
I can only soak in an ethnic group on the verge of cultural assimilation, thinking about you … …
A group of refugees!
I am Tibetan
ID issued by the People’s Republic of China
Registration card issued by the People’s Republic of China
Fill out a form, and hand in a form
Nationality column, I need to write; “Tibetan!”
Occasionally, the leadership will say:
“Consistent with the Central Committee,”
I say “OK, leadership please relax!”
Can only leading such a life
be considered life?
Over the many years
I always think that I have been undergoing a great change
Always pray for tomorrow
Each Spring Summer Autumn Winter
I have suffered so much pain. Could this be
worldly love?
Love of nationality?
“How is it possible that I do not understand the love in your heart.”
Whose sigh interrupted
Our chat?
Our mother tongue
endured, like a small and weak organism –
Tibet, Tibet … …
A monk hurriedly returns to his residence
– What is he frightened of?
A spirit of compassion
Living desperately
That illiterate pregnant girl
Once in a while told me using her eyes —
“I also live in desperation”
At this point,
A quiet dark sky
I actually have nothing to say
“Are you still OK?
At a dead end, I returned to Tibet
Needed again to unload the weight of my body.”
Suddenly wanted to ask you this
“What is Tibet?”
A government website told me
It’s the end of the railway line – the “Qinghai-Tibet railway”
(Launched at 9:00 on July 1, 2006, 1,142 km in length)
It’s the end of a highway —
Qinghai – Tibet highway (1214 km in length)
Xinjiang – Tibet highway (2841 km in length)
Sichuan – Tibet highway (Northern side 2412 km in length, Southern side 2149 km in length)
Yunnan – Tibet highway (714 km in length)
China – Nepal highway (2415 km in length)
What is Tibet?
It’s mineral resources:
At present, 101 kinds of mineral resources have already been discovered, 41 kinds of mineral resources have been identified, not withstanding the 100 reserves under exploration, not withstanding  2,000 mining points, 22 mines have been opened up for development. Tibet’s dominant minerals are, copper, chromium, boron, lithium, lead, zinc, gold, antimony, iron, and geothermal, mineral water etc, some minerals in the country account for an important position, mineral resources with the potential value of more than a trillion yuan. Reserves of mineral resources ranking top 5 are chromium, craft crystals, corundum, high-temperature geothermal, copper, clay, magnesite, boron, natural sulphur, mica, arsenic, and 12 other kinds of mineral water. There are also good prospects for oil at present.
What is Tibet?
The holy land of tourism
Because going to Tibet is also a kind
of trend.
What is Tibet?
“Tibet is home of different ethnic groups.”
What is Tibet?
It is “Three Valleys in Ngari, the West”
“Four Rivers in U-Tsang, the Center,”
“Six Mountain Ranges in Dokham, the East”
What is Tibet?
Can I lose hope?
“I’m waiting for someone.”
“It’s you!”
Why don’t you remove the shadow you have shouldered for a lifetime
Before that, I promised
To help you to sign your name in the rectangle characters,
Return trip to the hometown
Afterwards, go to see the cold monastery that looks like
ruins. A monk
One matchstick
The tears on
Your cheek turn to ice.
“Posters are everywhere in the city
Slogans are as numerous as sesame seeds
Like what a friend of mine said:
“Judgment day is this day, it’s actually every day.”
Obviously this belongs to
A typical discourse of violence
But for those who know the inside story
This is a warning; It is an account made within the bounds
permitted by the power
We have been constantly been in compliance
But the days are increasingly paling into insignificance
Losing meaning
“Am I still that Tibetan who hides the prayer beads in his heart?
A deep sense of shame! ”
“The real Tibet is like a slabstone,
Overwhelms me and makes me breathless. ”
I can only while myself away, in order to live in a little dignity.
“Those of us in Tibet
will we become refugees?”
August 9, 2009
The second poem by Gade Tsering translated by High Peaks Pure Earth fits well in the series of “I Am Tibetan” poems and prose pieces that have been translated over the last few months. The poem was written in Amdo on February 10 2010, and posted on his blog on the first day of Losar (Tibetan New Year), February 14, 2010, when there was an upsurge in online activity related to being Tibetan and Tibetan identity.



“I am Tibetan”
By Gade Tsering 

Because I’m Tibetan, every time I salute Mother Nature in awe:
The snow-covered mountains, the grasslands, the azure sky and the lakes,
I cannot help but throw my bloated body into her bosom. Because I know
She never rejects those who she loves.
Did you know
“It was here my fellows had been imprisoned;
It was here the Defender of Faith of Chushi Gangdruk had been defeated.
It is here the smoke of the burning branches of mulberry trees swirl,
And the sound of spiral shell horns can be heard,
The roofs are flanked with coloured Sutra banners;
It is here, the chest of the plateau, my home,
In the early morning I offer a bowl of purified water to Buddha,
I will no longer ask for more: the existence of Tibet,
Which has completed my life and repelled my fear of loss.
It is here I have encountered you
As well as all living things.
It is here I have experienced the feeling of love,
As well as the feeling of being loved.
Because I am a Tibetan,
I always firmly believe in history,
Always firmly believe
In the existence of sacred spirit.
I hear different languages of different groupsIn my mother tongue, crying;
Those from blacksmiths, farmers, hunters,
From prostitutes, businessmen, vendors
I already disdain the scenes I’m seeing;
Although sometimes I still sing the Song of Emancipated Serfs,
I can recognize a guy with the sissy tone in his dialect must be a Shandong guy,
I can recognize a chick in the ugly photographer’s vest is a Sichuan chick.
At this moment, I’m touching the damaged Buddha,
Wondering how it should be possible
That a month later all these people would gesture and speak in astonishment:
“Since Tibetans have religious beliefs, how can a Lama kill people?”
I think everything is dreadful for a reason.
Where else could we head for,
If the whole land is darkened by night?
Because I’m a Tibetan, I have
A lot of memories:
The monkey and the demoness
With the nature of getting along with Mother Nature in harmony,
And, the Tibet Empire and the Tibetan song of Gesar orally passed from generation to generation.
Because I’m a Tibetan,
I have been suffering from a life in misery;
Because I’m a Tibetan,
I have obtained enough comfort.
But it is in this autocratic winter
I composed this poem!
“Her eyes and the wrinkles on her palms are Tibetan,
Her name, Tibetan,
Her dreams and sorrows, Tibetan,
Her belief, her legs and body, Tibetan,
Her language and her silence, Tibetan,
Her voice, Tibetan,
Her birth and death, Tibetan?” (1)
How wonderful it is
To dream of parents!
I deeply believe that at this moment
I’m no longer in sorrow.
In this snowy night,
I get up to light a butter lamp.
I decide to take the prayer beads off my waist
And pray to Buddha.
At this moment, the night seems so real and profound.
Celestial burial is
Not frightening at all,
In my eyes;
In your eyes.
Because I’m a Tibetan,
I understand myself.
This time the rejection is
Related to your identity.
I said,
The Tibetan knife I carry with me every day is
Not for killing other lives.
You always wonder if in this world there ever exists a place
“Speak Tibetan because you are a Tibetan,
Celebrate Losar because you are a Tibetan.”
In my mother tongue I answered,
Life and death are separated from each other.
I said I carry a knife with me
Because I soberly know who I am
And I want to intimidate myself.
There they came on a Saturday afternoon.
There they came, in buses appearing as armoured cars.
There they came, with buzzing saws, ropes and other equipment.
There they came, the seven workers.
There they came, the seven devils.
There they came, holding beer bottles like flowers, drunk.
There they came, in camouflaged green outfits.
With bright red faces,
in black leather shoes,
There they came… (2)
I am Tibetan,
I want to worship my gods in awe.
I am Tibetan,
I want to partake in all my religious festivals.
I am a Buddhist and I
Won’t allow anyone to take away this
baptism of mine.
How far must I go to arrive in the land of Tibet?
How far must I go to meet my parents?
How far must I go to wear Tibetan clothes?
We are heading for Lhasa.
The festered feet as the proof,
That our bruised bodies and hearts are
The garden is silent;
In the form of an eagle
Lhasa is flying.
Drawing near the thunder,
Comes soon the rain!
Because we are Tibetan,
We are treated differently from other minorities:
Enduring aggravating discrimination, imprisonment, torture and death.
Because I am Tibetan,
I am no longer in fear of anything.
Still a courageous Buddhist,
I lit many lights before our honoured Gods
In memory of my dead brethren
Just as usual.
Speaking in my mother tongue, I deeply believe that
At this moment, I feel peaceful and blessed!
Because I am Tibetan, I often ask
Apart from in Tibet, where else could we find a piece of land of the exiled
with such rich poetic sentiments?
February 10, 2010.
(1) An imitation of the poem “The Lover from Palestine” by the Arabian poet Mohamed Darwish
(2) An excerpt from “Saturday Morning” by the Iraqi poet Yusuf


  1. Anonymous

    Correction: Mahmoud Darwish was a Palestinian poet, as well as an Arab poet. He was not an Arabian poet.

  2. High Peaks Pure Earth

    Thank you very much for this interesting correction!

  3. jillnerkowski

    these words are lovely. thankyou for taking the time to translate them for us.

  4. vinita agrawal

    The poems have moved me to tears…
    The love of a man for his homeland is one of the purest emotions that exists in this world. Through Gade Tsering's words I experience his pain and the sheer pining for his homeland. Please continute to write many more such poems Gade!

  5. Pingback: BRIC – One Summit, many Interpretations, and Staying Alive in Tibet | Justrecently's Weblog

  6. I am not a Tibetan. I have not visited Tibet. But, I have chosen Tibet as my Valentine.

  7. One day we’ll get our freedom free Tibet👊🏽👊🏽

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