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Manoa 12.2 (2000) 115-117

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Two Poems

Ju Kalzang

Tibet, Mother, Mani

Deep is the mantra essence of Tibet--
the Six Syllables.
Pure white is the snow flower of Tibet--
the Six-Petalled One.
Profound is the dharma of Tibet--
our mothers' precepts.
With smiles, Tibetan mothers
bestow our earliest good wishes.

With smiles, Tibetan mothers
relay our first words of reason.
These flow from our mothers' hearts with
sincerity and warmth. And in that same moment of nascent
wonder when we come to know both mother and mani,
we utter the words together, "mani" and "Ama."
Hearing the croon of our mothers' mani,
we fall asleep without fear.
Listening to the croon of our mothers' mani,
we grow up unharmed.
Fierce Protector of Life,
which burns with the force of our mothers' blessings--
the prayers for our karma
which suffuse our mothers' earnest breath.

With these words by the mothers of Tibet,
mani is chanted by the people of Tibet,
mani falls on the mountains of Tibet,
mani is carried in the waters of Tibet,
and the winds and fires of Tibet roar mani.
Mani grows with the flowers of Tibet.
Mani falls with the snows of Tibet.
The mani of Tibet emanates from our mothers,
and is thus imbued with the ama of Tibet. [End Page 115]

The pure goodwill and prayer
offered her descendants by the mothers of Tibet--
the great happiness and peace
offered all people by the mothers of Tibet--
Om mani padme hum!

Translation by Lauran R. Hartley

The World Seen from Another Angle

Riding the wave of history the wrong way
I am left here.

When the accusing finger presses
The belly of the sky demoness
Hard and very deep
It makes just a murmuring sound.

The friend who sells you
A poison concoction
Extends a tongue of honey.
While pouring milk in your mouth
He reaches inside of your heart.

While stroking your head with his hand
He kicks your foot.
Although you meet with opportunities,
The higher you climb the steps
The more your hands are bound by fear.
Habit dictates you sit cross-legged on the grass,
Experience makes you smile for the Lord of Death.
Although your mouth laughs,
Is it possible that you do not suffer inside?
I think there are tears in the corners of your smiling eyes. [End Page 116]

Sometimes even--
At night I hear the gods devouring corpses
And I see ghosts meditating in the day.
When I listen closely to the melody of a pleasant song
The notes sever my tongue at its root.
When I see clearly the surface of a beautiful drawing
My eyeball is pierced by a line.

Sometimes even--
When the red part returns to the heart
And the white part sinks down
Oh, God--there are no footprints in the soul.
A knife tears the heart
And the body shakes with fear.

Hey--Go back, go back!
Here your feelings will be transformed.
Look at those in deep sleep,
Their heads cushioned on the old myths.
How happy those dreams are,
How contented those bodies and minds.

Translation by Ronald D. Schwartz

Ju Kalzang is one of the most widely acclaimed Tibetan poets today. After earning a master's degree in 1987 at Qinghai Nationalities College, he returned to his native home in the nomadic area of Golok, in Qinghai Province, where he now serves as director of the Nationalities Section of the Golok Prefecture Translation Affairs Bureau. "Tibet, Mother, Mani" (bod ama mani) appears in his collection Gangs-'dabs-kyi sems-pa, published in Xining in 1994; "The World Seen from Another Angle" (gru-ga gzhan zhig nas mthong-ba'i 'jig-rten) was originally published in Light Rain (sbrang char) in 1990 under the name Tig Ta (the pseudonym alludes to a bitter Tibetan medicine).

Ronald D. Schwartz is a professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland, Canada, and a former honorary research fellow at the Centre of Asian Studies of the University of Hong Kong. His most recent book is Circle of Protest: Political...