Manoa 12.2 (2000) 150
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Land of Snows
The Sun God strokes a miraculous silver comb across the earth
To form a Pure Land of snows that ferments the moon in a vat of ice.
When you find the lake hushed as the aqua sky
Don't you know it is His melody
blazing its way through frozen rivers and peaks?
This glacier's ice stores the feelings of a lifetime!
That is why morning and night go on
pulling the multicolored streamers of sun and moon,
And I clear the dust storm's mud
and carry fresh water to my little plot of ground.
The Potala--The Venturer's Mounting-Stone
Silver under the moon, a pagoda towers to heaven;
Golden stones dazzling in the sun, radiant with wisdom.
The constellation of the ten cultures, its thousand halls;
Thirteen-storied temple, messenger of thirteen centuries.
This red-and-white palace is no facade embellishing the snow city.
O venturing sons of the ages, know the will of the ancestors:
The steles at the Potala gate
are mounting-stones for you and me
to vault into the stirrups of our dreams!
Translations by Herbert J. Batt
Yidam Tsering was born in 1933 to Tibetan peasant parents in Tsongkha, on the outskirts of Xining, capital of Qinghai Province. In 1949, after the Communists took control of Qinghai, he entered a provincial cadre-training program, then joined a song-and-dance troupe as a performer, dramatist, and director. He has published numerous collections of poetry. The poems in this issue are from An Anthology of Contemporary Tibetan Authors (zhongguo dangdai zuojia youxiu zuopinji), published by Gansu Minzu Chubanshe (Gansu Nationalities Publishing Co.) in China in 1991.
Herbert J. Batt has a doctorate from the University of Toronto and has taught at Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and Beijing Capital University. The translator of numerous works from Chinese, he is editor and translator of Tales of Tibet: Sky Burials, Wind Horses, and Prayer Wheels.