High Peaks Pure Earth has translated a poem written in Tibetan to commemorate the devastating Yushu earthquake of April 14, 2010. The poem was posted on April 13, 2015 and has since been widely circulated on popular messaging app WeChat.
Even immediately after the earthquake took place, Tibetan bloggers took to writing poetry online and this has continued over the past years especially around the time of the anniversaries.
In the poem, a place called Shog chen is referred to and this is in the greater Yushu Tibet Autonomous Region, located in present day Nangchen.
“The Suffering that Befell Yushu”
By Sershul Rabsel
Yesterday, a market place that sounded with joyful amusement,
Today, a thousand thunderclaps of lamentation have made it a terrifying tomb!
Not a Lama’s divination – such unexpected loss.
Not a scientist’s examination – such a severe fate.
A single earthly tremor and our brothers’ lives are swept up by the wind,
The castle of our forefathers, as exquisite as the heavenly abode of Brahma has fallen to ruin,
The bountiful wealth amassed by the blood of the first mother, suddenly turned to nothing,
All that we had and did not have, gone, and from this flows my sorrowful and anguished pen.
At dawn the smiling countenance of the twilight goddess can hear your agony,
Then after a passing moment, you are with the classmates of your youth.
As the decades flash past Yushu is crushed under weight.
Thinking of what I have witnessed, the splendorous sun retreats.
At first sight it isn’t clear if this is your city,
Covered in dust from earth to sky, not sure of who is who, or what is what.
Hearing of this unexpected disaster Tibetans came from far and wide,
Crowds of monks rushing about like a vigorous snowstorm.
Expecting no recompense, nor at the behest of any leader,
The steady compassion of the steadfast Dharma is shown to your community,
Cast away the superstition of gods and demons and shoulder the piles of lifeless bodies!
Holding onto pure motivation you overcome a hundred many hardships.
Lost with the people of shog chen, whose red life blood melts away the rivers of the land,
Corpses strewn across the earth and vultures fill the sky,
Such attachment to life and death – the lost souls of the departed are not quiet,
With this quake the lord of life has turned all you have to suffering.
With your cries of despair close to heart I offer you my strength,
While I collect my tepid teardrops I readily receive your woeful cries,
People of Yushu,
The mindless four elements have cruelly taken away your happiness.
The piety of the white haired mother reduced to a single wail,
Today, the day when the entirety of this place of abundant wealth was swept away.
Answering the moans of suffering brothers from the three provinces arrived,
From today – it has become clear we are united.
From today – man has been bestowed with a determination arising from the equation of life and death.
Amidst an expanse of a thousand years, I erect an indelible obelisk.
This life beneath the rock and debris, about to embark on a journey to the next life.
Chaotic misery leaves the heart quivering and you stretch out your hand,
The funds dispatched in aid are comparable to the number of beautiful stars,
Showing the world the true nature of Tibet, the land of the Dharma
To stop the cries of distress the brothers of the land of U,
Surmount distant mountains to come to your side,
This decade where a states army can be halted on their path,
What I have heard today – my short glances cannot comprehend.
The day that marks four years past since your heart-blood soaked the ground,
The fourteenth day of the fourth month when your soul became part of mine,
The commemoration of Yushu being cleaved apart, when flesh, blood and bone were separated from Tibet,
Possessing no abundant wealth, I offer to you these layers of feeling.
This post is also available in: English