Poem: "Lake Kokonor – Please Forgive Me" By Adong Paldothar

High Peaks Pure Earth presents the English translation of a poem by poet Adong Paldothar that was submitted to us by a kind reader of ours! Having read our translations of previous poems by Adong Paldothar, this reader was moved to translate this one, “Lake Kokonor, Please Forgive Me”. This poem was written on July 6, 2011 and posted on his blog on December 15, 2011.
Lake Kokonor is the Mongolian name for Amdo’s most famous lake and is also known as Qinghai Lake, in Tibetan it is called Tso Ngön – literally meaning Blue Lake. Lake Kokonor has inspired many Tibetans in cultural spheres, perhaps the most famous ode to Lake Kokonor in recent times is the popular song “Tso Ngön” sung by Amdo singer Dorje Tseten and also covered by Dadon, itself a song composed on a poem by Dhondup Gyal.

“Lake Kokonor, Please Forgive Me”
By Adong Paldothar

Please forgive me, Lake Kokonor
I’m over 40 years old, but still haven’t offered you seven bowls of pure water* of the Muse…
but repeatedly enjoyed your beauty
and walked away

It is my ancestors, forgetting the cover of the well
making you gush all over the grassland, and be reduced to
an orphaned girl entrusted to the great mountain by the great ocean
forgive my inability to use brush and ink
to defend your elegance
or paint your primordial beauty

Forgive me for not often addressing you with the honorific title
The Queen who destroys 10,000**, you are my faith
a verse of the divine epic
standing before you, I have no words
nor have I song, because
your blueness and sacredness
are the banner of my soul
are the word-symbols which have been chanted for a long time

Forgive me, that in your broad expanse
I can only be one small fish
swimming among your words
nesting in your mood
and your melody
avoiding certain people
who stealthily hunt me
Forgive me that I lack adequate body temperature
to melt the needle’s hook, against the enemy of
those selfishnesses and distractions
in the noisy city’s sounds
I am weak as a cloud of gas
transparent, without even the strength to
go as soon as possible to blow you awake
not even able to endure the motions
of one small wave

Forgive me for being unable to protect
the scenery on your beloved grassland
where there are sheep white as clouds and horses
gently tossing their tails
or defend the sound made by cows and their little calves
while devoting themselves to nibbling the grass

Forgive me, in the distant city
losing the memory of how to use your colours
to bring myself into the quiet
to meditate on the water element
And feel gratitude for the mountain where
snowflakes are in full bloom.

Forgive me for, from far-away windows
with sketching eyes
taking the heart’s words, and writing them on
your waters, for taking the heart’s places
to paint the state of mind in your sky
for taking the moment
and playing in your waves

Forgive me for coming and going for a dozen years
Yet failing to pay my respects to you
nor have I bade farewell to you.
please forgive my silence.
I still feel a burst of searing pain caused by
the spilling of your diluted salty water
over the wound of myself and history

Please forgive me


*Maybe a reference to Lu Tong’s Seven Bowls of Tea 七碗诗 卢仝(唐. 790~835 )
**མཚོ་ཁྲི་ཤོར་རྒྱལ་མོ་ Trishok Gyalmo, “Queen Who Destroyed Ten Thousand,” another Tibetan name of Tso Ngön (Lake Kokonor) and also the name of the deity of Tso Ngön


  1. Tsering Dorjee

    Very moving and beautiful poem. I can feel
    the primodial beauty existing in the lake, the
    plateau, and the beautiful people it wrought
    under its mesmerizing beauty and sacredness.
    Tibetans are products of the land itself and the
    two cannot be spoken of separately but akways
    together; because they are one and the same.

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