I have been making stabs at reading this tiny book that I “borrowed” from my father’s bookcase: Songs of the Sixth Dalai Lama. It was first printed by the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives in 1981. K Dhondup translated. His short biography of the Sixth Dalai Lama is very good. There are 59 poems or songs- and of course I haven’t read all of them, but of the ones I have read, my favorite so far is this:
Stong.ldan. ha.lo’i. me.tog.
Mchod.b’i. rjas.la. pheb.na.
gyu.sbrang. gzhon.nu. nga.yang.
lha.khang. nang.la. khrid.dang.*
K Dhondup translates this as:
If the blossoming hollyhock flower is leaving
As an offering to the altar,
Leave not the young turquoise bee behind:
“Take me with you,
To the altar.”
Ok first, the poem is lovely. Second, I think I am really just utterly charmed that the speaker is a bee. It’s unexpected. The speaker begins quite loftily with stong.ldan. ha.lo’i. me.tog. and reaffirms this with the honorific pheb.na. but the last line is almost petulant and definitely pleading. I am just… very taken with this.
Actually I tried my hand at translation because I didn’t think K Dhondup’s translation was entirely faithful and this is my effort, based of course on K Dhondup’s:
If the blossoming hollyhock flower
Follows the offerings to the altar,
Take me also, the young turquoise bee,
Into the chapel.
*This may be a feeble attempt at transliteration. Anyone is welcome to correct me!