Anthology of Tibetan Poets


Gyalpo Tsering


First Snowfall

The raven caws from above; Below him the rooftops are all white; And the prayer flags Sag sullenly.

The Nomad I

He sits and gazes, with a song upon his lips 
While his herd of yaks graze: he and they
Are a part of that immense, grassy waste
That stretches desolately where wild winds rage.

All through the day he sings; all else about
Him was as if glued to his hoarse voice.
Strange melancholy sails on the sea of grass,
At times to be outsung by the wind's howling song.

At intervals he gathers up his chuba1 sleeves
To crack his woven wool sling; at its sound
His shaggy friends throng onwards to fresh grass,
Coarse, but sweet enough fill until dusk.

Here there are no birds or the smell of men
For miles on end, only his grazing masses,
Like islands on a calm sea, smeared with coloured life,
To welcome a lone traveller, baffled by isolation.

Then, when day wanes and wild winds grow chill,
He gathers the herd with gleeful wolf calls
And shambles behind them, home to the distant tents,
That greet and balm the day's toil with rest.

1 traditional Tibetan dress for men and women