Poems by Gedun Choephel


By Gendun Choephel

In the times now long forgotten
In the night of other ages,
When things were not as they now are
Lay the earth a lifeless body,
Cold and hard and all unyielding,

Like a maid in dreamless slumber,
Untouched by life’s budding springmood,
Ere the glow of sun light calls her.
And the sky looked down and saw her.
Gently then in stealth descending,
In the rose of early twilight
Stooped and kissed her in her slumber.
And behold her young heart heaving,
Throbbed her pulse, her eyelids opened
And those eyes, all filled with wonder
Shed the hot tears of her being.
Thus was born this lake Himalayan,
Mother of the holy Ganga.


Mountain-wave, mystic and dreamy,
By thy shore does stand a maiden
And the rhythm of thy water
Blends into her burning bosom,
Stands she motionless and gazing,
Knows not where her flocks are staying.

The young hunter aims his arrow,
And, behold, he sees thy water,
And no more sees he the roebuck
Slacks the bowstring, flees the quarry.

When the sun is golden glory
Sheds his aureole o’er thy surface, –
Standst thou like the shrine Campaca
But the white dreamrays of moon-light
Veils thee in a garb of silver,
In the rope of Milarepa.


By Gendun Choephel

My feet are wandering neath the alien star,
My native land, – the road is far and long.
Yet the same light of Venus and Mars
Falls on the small green valley of Rebkong.

Rebkong, – I left thee and my heart behind,
My boyhood’s dusty plays, – in far Tibet.
Karma, that restless stallion made of wind,
In tossing me; where will it land me yet?

Like autumn cloud I float, soon, there, soon here,
I know not what the fleeting moons may bring.
Here in this land of roses, fair Kashmir,
My years are closing around me like a ring.

Fate sternly sits at Destiny’s hard loom
And irrevoked her tangled pattern weaves
The winds are blowing around my father’s tomb
And I but dream of those still summer eves,
When – child – I listened to my mother’s voice,
Whose stories made my youthful heart rejoice.

So far, so far I may not see those graves.
Ah, friend, these separation pangs are sore.
My heart is thrown upon the ocean waves
Where shall at last reach a peaceful shore?

I’ve drunk of holy Ganga’s glistening wave,
I’ve sat beneath the sacred Bodhi tree,
Whose leaves the wanderer’s weary spirit lave.
Thou sacred land of Ind, I honour thee,
But, oh, that like valley of Rebkong,
The sylvan brook which flows that vale along.

Milarepa’s Reply

By Gendun Choephel

The earth and sky held counsel one night,
And called their messengers from northern height.
And came they, the storm fiends, the bleak and the cold,
They, who the stormwinds in grim fingers hold.

They swept o’er the earth, and then they called forth
That glist’ning maid from the far Polar North
In white trailing robe, the Queen of the Snow
And she sent her flutt’ring plumed children below.

And downward they flew in wile, whirling showers,
While in black masses hung threat’ning the sky.
Some were large cruel sharp-stinging flowers
Some pierced his chest with a fierce-cutting eye.

Thus stormfiends, snow and icy frost blending
Came cold and sharply upon him descending.
On his half nude form these shapes did alight.
And tried with his single thin garments to tight.

But Milarepa, the Snow-mountain’s child
Feared no their onslaughts, so cruel and wild.
Though they attacked him most fiercely and grim,
He only smiled – they had no power over him.

Oh Where?

By Gendun Choephel

A city there is which lone does stand
In ruins mid bamboo trees
Hot blows the burning desert sand
Where dry shrubs sigh on thirsting land,
Where monkeys cry, and with these
Joins the shrill cry of the jungle cock
Where a maiden drives her scattered flock
To the tunes of the ancient lay.
Where an ox cart moves on its lazy way
Ad the halts for shade b’neath a jutting rock;
Oh, City, where is the day,
When on thy golden Throne sat Kings
Who held the Sceptre high in this place?

Hark, heareth thou Time’s fleet wings?