Thursday, October 9, 2008

D. Natsagdorj (1906-1937)



A thousand thousand springs beneath the eternal sky
In lovely Mongolia, a breadth of years and years.
In this gentle season, the people’s minds are calm,
And livestock serene in the verdancy of grass.

Patterns of snow thaw as the distant sun draws near.
The old is made new in the world.
Trees blossom, children play outside, and
Old men think themselves young.

The braying, honking geese fly back to the steppe.
The herders, sitting at home, are moved by their call.
Rivulets stream down the mountainsides,
And goats and kids bleat out their joyful song.

You can feel a peaceful blessing,
Awakening the hidden mind, conjuring the past and present.
Wonderful new life ornaments the folds,
And parents delight in their cradled child.


When gorgeous summer starts,
On the gorgeous Khangai ranges,
The cuckoos sing out sweetly –
Oh, how lovely this world is!

A green haze hangs in space, a delusion of mirages,
And a horse neighs, longing for its home.
A rain of flowers purifies the face of the world,
And young people cram their minds with one another.

In summer, the mountains teem with fresh waters.
Mongolia takes pleasure in her three manly sports, and
Children sing their horserace song throughout the valleys.
These swift and gleaming horses are admired by all.

Festive melodies echo across the vast steppe.
Livestock graze the countryside, and
The scent of airag fills everyone’s nostrils.
Everywhere is so lovely, such happiness everywhere!


The yellow sun of autumn shines on you and me,
And we are moved by the changing seasons.
Stags and moose bellow and pleasure the mountain streams,
And lowing cows drive on the herdsmen.

Thin clouds scud across the lovely skies, and
Young people go abroad to study.
The voiceless limpid river flows,
The moon’s reflection whispers tales of love.

In the morning hoarfrost, glistening like pearls,
A horse, tethered outside, shifts and shivers.
While he’s out early hunting fox and wolf,
His wife and kids wait at home, distilling arkhi.

The gentle winds of autumn move the trees and grasses.
The hearts of old and young are filled with tears.
Leaves drift down from the yellowing trees,
And sometimes we have sadness in our hearts.


Icy breath snaps the air.
Mountains and valleys in the golden world are mantled in silver,
And the stars in the wintry skies glimmer like sparks.
The caravanners’ song echoes across the broad steppe.

The high peaks are held by mist and fog.
Our eyes grow wide in the hollows of the vast steppe.
The cattle in the fresh pastures glow with health,
Corralled by whistling herdsman.

The cold freezes you to the marrow on the high ground.
There’s a fire in the faces of young Mongolians.
The Pleiades hang over the mountains, the candlelight grows dim,
And the old folk stoke the fire and spin their words.

Winter, spring, summer and autumn are the turning seasons.
Mountains, water, sun and moon are firm friends.
A farewell to the old, a welcome to the newborn –
Unceasing for a thousand thousand years.

Translated by Simon Wickham Smith

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