High Peaks Pure Earth presents two more English translations of poems by Tashi Rabten, who writes under the pen name of Theurang.
The poems each feature a place, Ngaba in Amdo and Lhasa, Tibet’s capital. “Ngaba Logbook” was written in April 2015 and the “Suddenly, I Remembered Lhasa” was written in November 2008. The poems have been widely shared on social media and WeChat.
Thank you to exile Tibetan poet Bhuchung D. Sonam for providing the English translations.
Written on 18 April 2015
Thursday, the sun is hot.
A black iron peg striking at his heart
A man set himself on fire
Warming the entire snow mountain’s chest to a feverish pitch.
Friday, the red wind rages.
After the clock struck eleven at night
Exactly from the door of my teashop
The red wind carried away one of my perfectly sane friends,
As the wind raged, a maroon shawl disappeared
Into the lightless twisted street like an arrow.
Saturday, the snows are falling.
In order for the mind to stir
The voiceless houses know to be very sad
Their doors persistently facing the streets,
One by one draw their blinds
Keep fast together, cut off their speech.
Suddenly, I Remembered Lhasa
Written on 26 November 2008
The noise and the vibration of the train
Suddenly, suddenly shakes my computer,
My fingers cannot control the letters on the keyboard
To write my thoughts.
At such times, suddenly, suddenly
I remember Lhasa
At the end of this railway track
Being shaken by the train.
The statues and butter lamps of Tsuglakhang Temple,
The golden roofs of the Potala Palace,
Hearts of the devoted old women on the main road
Being shaken by the comings and goings of the train
Like the computer facing me.
How suddenly remembering Lhasa
Is like remembering to get up all of a sudden
And shout out in freedom.