Three Poems by Chen Metak

Photo of Chen Metak from Tibet Web Digest website

High Peaks Pure Earth presents Bhuchung D Sonam’s translations of three poems by prominent poet from Amdo, Chen Metak.
Chen Metak is the pen name of Sonam Tenpa, the pen name means “Fire Spark from Chentsa” and he was born in Chentsa in Amdo, in 1970. Six of Chen Metak’s poems were translated by Bhuchung D. Sonam and published in the recent volume “Burning the Sun’s Braids”. A short introduction to Chen Metak can be found in the book in which Chen Metak says that the relationship between writing and society is one of “blood and flesh, sword and arrow, father and son”.
The three poems below, “Arriving at a Small Village in Matoe at Nightfall”, “My Home” and “Half” are new translations and not previously published. Our thanks to Bhuchung D. Sonam for granting us permission to publish these!
For those who are interested, many poems can be found in Tibetan on Chen Metak’s blog:
Burning the Sun’s Braids which was featured in the most recent High Peaks Pure Earth Winter Reading List. Read a review of “Burning the Sun’s Braids” by Tenzin Dickie on Tibetan Review here:
Order the “Burning the Sun’s Braids” online here (only a limited amount left):

Arriving at a Small Village in Matoe* at Nightfall

There is a shop with a green banner.
A few yaks walk aimless into an alley.
When I light a candle,
I am alone without any danger.

This desolate place has no wind.

At a village on the other side,
Some horses cross a river crowding,
Without a sound from the water or neighing,
They chase the darkening sunlight.

When a solar lamp glows with a click
A person in a fox-skin hat says,
‘Hey man, are you tired?’
Plopping on the bed I say,
‘No. I am not tired.’
This is the moment
I feel alone missing my home.

Translator’s Note:
Matoe (literally Upper Machu) is one of the six districts in Golok (Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture), Eastern Tibet. This is the location of two lakes – Kyaring and Ngoring, which are sources of the Machu River. This region used to have abundant livestock which have since dwindled due to China’s policy of forcibly settling nomads and fencing off the grasslands. Nomads were required to sell their livestock to government-run slaughterhouses and were then housed in concrete settlements where – once the money from sale of their animals runs out – they fall into poverty, alcoholism and crime.

My Home

As soon as returning home
I entirely forget that this realm
Has neither sunlight nor sky.
How happy it is here
To open the doors and windows,
To close them at anytime
In freedom.

Though the realm
Makes loud noises
Outside these windows,
How happy it is here
To recline on the sofa-set,
To be able to relish this silence and warmth
At my will.



A rainbow arose
But only half of it is left.

Thunder cut the other half, and
Dark clouds confiscated it.

Looking at the realm
Half of it is blue sky
Accompanied by beams of sunlight.

The other half is anxiety
Tagged on by hooks of lightning.


  1. Good translation, but there’s a mistake,hope it’s just a typo. You can mention Golog simply as a Tibetan area. If you must mention which Choelka Golog belongs, you have to make it right. Golog is not from Kham. Or maybe the translator’s note meant the bigger concept of Doe Kham, then he should say so. I hope you can edit the error. Thanks for the translation of these beautiful poems though.

    • High Peaks Pure Earth

      Thank you so much for your comment, glad you enjoyed the poems! As Golok extends into both Amdo and Kham, the translator recommended a link be inserted to the Tibetan and Himalayan Library which gives historical contexts for the rival claims. The note has been edited to just say “eastern Tibet”. Thanks again!

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