The blue lake of dreams. You couldn't paint such a blue. On the banks of the lake, a few dark cranes. There's a woman with the cranes. You couldn't paint such a woman, but you also couldn't look directly upon her, her eyes are bright, her gaze hidden. In my sixteen year old's dream, the curtain of fate rises, this woman has come into the world, together with the cranes. The dream-woman would take my hand and lead me. The dark cranes were her vehicle. They are beyond the folds of white clouds in the dark blue sky, she says. You are my husband, she says, let us fly away.
It's as though my father, in his worn blue deel, on his brown horse, is calling out to me, "Don't go!" It's like my mother is raising and offering to the sky the cream of the milk. The dark blue hills on the steppe have sad faces, it’s as though they are being pulled along. I stand, unmoving. The woman walks away, without turning gently to look over the waters of the lake, her voice calls out, I never heard the melody she sang. As the flock of cranes passed by overhead, she melded with them, and was gone.
I awoke from my dream and all day I felt sad. I went about, fully aware that it had been a dream. I enjoyed the growing thought of how the dark cranes of my desires were soaring there, of what they were doing off beyond those white hills. From that time, I became obsessed with poetry.
I cast my gaze around and see a woman, emerging from the dark mirages on the steppe with a white camel, but it is not her. I cast my eye about, I do not want to traverse so many tens of thousands on the city streets.
But she is only a woman in a dream. The years flash past and I have reached the same age as the dream woman, again the years move on and she is now my younger sister,
In my youth, I had many desires. To discover the unusual beauty in all that is usual in the world...to create myself as a body pure and bright...to write the most perfectly beautiful poem...to make bright and shining books...to ride in flight upon magic words of poetry into a person's heart...and, far out beyond my desires, there stood a blue peak to which I couldn't even fly. This was the "you" at whom I was aiming. In this way, I have been coming towards you.
I wrote this poem, called "I am coming to you," in a large group of tents beneath a starry sky, one night, swimming in a deep sleep. At that moment, as I gazed at the peaks of the great hills, overcome by the feeling that the dark cranes were flying beyond those lofty, white mountains, the poem took birth. They came to me, the child of nomads, raised as the dark cranes of the saltmarshes had been raised, they came to the bright pages of my notebook, these dark cranes of desire, so many of them, flying in complex filigree.
My dear friend in literature, the translator N.Enhbayar, was invited with me to attend a conference for young Asian and African writers in the Indian capital of New Delhi. It was 1987. He had translated my poem, "I am coming to you," into English, and distributed copies of it to our contemporaries. I was fortunate, three years later, when it was accepted for publication. The gods deigned that it should end up being published on the front page of the German literary magazine of the moment, GATE. Thus the gate to the world outside was opened for my work through the publication of this translation, and now it turns out that it has been translated into some thirty languages around the world. The dark cranes, reciting the translations of "I am coming to you" are crossing the five continents and the four great oceans and touching the hearts of readers and scholars in these countries, and the beginning of all of this was that dream which I had dreamt when I was sixteen.
These words are coming now, flying through the dark sky of cranes.
Five years ago, a letter came from the United States, from a meditation center, in the hand of the poet, athlete, meditator and composer Sri Chinmoy. He had read Enhbayar's translation of "I am coming to you," he wrote, "You are in search of the true quality of love, for the sound of eternity. You have discovered this truth, and not simply as a poet.” Two years later, he quoted my poem in a lecture, and described me as “a wise and influential poet.” Who would not be excited by such words? My poem has drawn similarly positive words from many other poets.
A poem is a living world given form through language. In the reading, publishing and writing of poetry, there is a vigorous increase in the discovery of magical and poetic qualities. I believe that, in the reading of these thirty published translations of my poem “I am coming to you,” the magic will exert an ever-stronger charge.
In the autumn, then, the cranes congregate on the banks of the saltmarsh lake. And when they do this, it’s like they’re performing lama dances for cranes. The nomads on the steppe call this place Crane Lake. Before going off on a long journey, they come together to get their young used to the flock, and to empower their wings for flight. Then they fly home, these lines of cranes, away into the blue sky. And then in spring they come in lines, flying back.
I speak in my poetry of the destiny of these nomadic birds. And then I see the poem-cranes, who have come together in these thirty translations to perform their lama dances, collected from across the wide world within the covers of a single book, I see them off in their lines of flapping wings.
This is the flight of the dark cranes, they are moving towards you.
31 October 2010
31 October 2010