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Manoa 12.2 (2000) 14-15



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Tears of Regret Flow Uncontrollably

Lhagyal Tshering


When a girl of fifteen is not sent to school but is given over
     to the milk cows;
When a charming, slender girl does not marry but is used by
    a swindler;
When a beautiful bride does not fit into her new household
    and is abandoned to roam in unknown, distant lands--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!
When a white-haired old man does not know the alphabet
but recites mantras for this life and the next;

When a white-toothed young man does not know the four vowels
    but adorns his chest with gold ornaments;
When a pure-hearted monk does not know how to punctuate
    sentences but conducts rituals in the home--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the children of farmers and herders aren't sent to school
    but spend their time with flocks of goats and sheep;
When the schoolyard is empty of students but full of
    grass and weeds;
When the classroom walls crumble in the rain while the teacher
    revels in drink--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the field of culture is trampled under the hooves of those
    who disparage it;
When the flower garden of education withers in the drought
    of conservatism;
When the peachlike face of literature is infested by swarms
    of ravenous insects--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes! [End Page 14]

When the broad heart of the snowy mountains is covered with
    filthy dust and sand;
When the courageous peaks of the rocky mountains are split apart
    by black-beaked crows;
When the wisdom of the grassy mountains' fertile slopes
    is undermined by thousands of gophers--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the stallion of progress and knowledge is bound tightly
    by the hobbles of domination;
When the white yak of freedom is chained by the nose
    to a hybrid yak-cow and made subservient to her;
When the sheep of peace and happiness are exploited for profit
    and sheared again and again--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When incomparable geniuses wander as beggars in foreign lands;
When unprecedented idiots sit upon the thrones of brilliant scholars;
When savages control the wise and knowledgeable--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the pure river of an untainted history is contaminated
    with the salty water of distortion;
When the unblemished vow on the face of a stone monument
    is defaced with one-sided views;
When the incomparably white pool of the five sciences becomes
    the playground for lying frogs--
Oh--how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

Translation by Janet L. Upton

Lhagyal Tshering was born in 1962 and is a teacher and researcher in Hezuo, Gansu Province. A collection of his poems was published by the Beijing Nationalities Publishing House in 1998. His work in this issue was originally published in Light Rain (sbrang char) in 1986. He recently coauthored a book on the history of Tibetan literature.

Janet L. Upton received her doctorate in anthropology from the University of Washington in 1999. Her dissertation focused on the role of schooling in a Tibetan community in Amdo. She is a program officer at Trace Foundation in New York, where she works on projects concerning minority higher education in China. She has written numerous articles and conference papers on Tibetan language, literature, and education in China.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-943x
Print ISSN
1045-7909
Pages
pp. 14-15
Launched on MUSE
2000-10-01
Open Access
No
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