Poetry of Bayar Dugarov
The Tale of the Swans
Swans once lived in the washbowl of the Great Lake
From them, it is told, humans have descended.
And every spring the people would go to the shore
to greet the arrival of their good winged ancestors with white milk.
This was long ago, it is told.
So long ago, that it has turned into a fairy tale.
But people have learned to hate one another…
They cannot manage to share watering places and land.
And he that has more sheep considers himself happy.
And the white swans would circle in the sky,
not understanding why in the spring no one meets them with white steaming milk.
But one day a certain curious boy found out about his swan ancestry.
He lifted his eyes to the sky in astonishment.
To the empy sky, there were only huge steel birds
sinking into the expanse with a roar, silent and sad…
He trudged to the Great Lake in search of the white birds.
He didn’t notice he had circled half the world.
But he had found no swans.
So he sat on the hot asphalt and began to cry-
The boy had grown old.
Squint your eyes into slits,
like the mark left by the Mongolian saber,
Absorbing the essence of earthy time from the sea of eternity drop by drop
Why did the neighing avalanche sweep through…
Trampling down the gardens, the fields?
The century of super-epic speeds descends upon the steppe like daybreak.
And punishment for the galloping of the horses, lasting too long.
And for the flash of the swords, blind and raging.
I recover my sight in the cities
Where signs of the Gobi desert appear indistinctly.
And I pass judgement upon the new times according to Europe, covered in birch.
I hear the roots act as shaman,
and I hear the rustle of the leaves,
and the consciousness of a higher kinship
Drowns out the voice of my blood.
Where was the land of Barguzin-Tukum?*
If not in our country, then where?
The mountains turn green, the larches rustle,
Will the rivers flowing to Baikal be silent?!
Where was the land of Barguzin-Tukum?
In the mists of legend, in the voice of the wind,
In the song of the moon I sought confirmation.
I found the answer deep in my mind.
The earth quaking below and the trees swaying above…
Told me clearly about the history
Of when the Buryats first appeared.
They trod down the fresh green grass
In the light of the campfires.
With the snowy peaks rising beyond the clouds
As they danced a majestic yohor dance.*
In the distant past my wise ancestor
While drumming to the ongon spirits,*
Sat and sang these golden words with hoomei.*
*Barguzin-Tukum was the legendary homeland of the Buryats
The yohor is a shamanist circle dance around the fire
Ongon spirits are helper spirits for the shaman
Hoomei is overtone, or throat singing, sung by both Mongols and Tuvans.
Protected by strong fences of mountain ridges covered with larch forests
A herd of wooden houses makes its way down to the blue river…
I wander through the village.
Here the flow of seething time is quieter.
I see a puff of smoke appear fleetingly above the rooftops.
Like a squirrel’s tail.
My Orlik, floating in the fog,
Thrown open to the sky,
Do you hear the Yenesei Hydroelectric Station
Droning somewhere in the Sayans?
Do you sense that the cliffs and the spruce trees,
The rivers in the dense gorges,
Will someday be used, that their turn will come as well?
And the heart cannot comprehend it
The shade of these larches will vanish.
And the deer will abandon the mountains, only where can they run to?
Oh, this age in which I live, I beg you, I entreat you,
When you erect your buildings, not to touch my blueness
Not to touch my cradle, for on this earth
The trees, the Manchurian deer, the snowstorms
Were bequeathed to me at birth.
Mongolzhon–you are the open expanse we rely upon.
You are the steppe’s smile upon the rocky promontories.
How freely and fervently the scathing manes of resilient alpine winds spread forth across the plains.
Gleaming azure flows down from the rocky spurs.
Each hut is illuminated by the yellow light of the grass.
So many pure thoughts and radiant songs
Have flowered in your spaciousness, Mongolzhon.
Since childhood I have been grateful to my forefathers
Who chose the Sayan Mountains for their native land.
The days are filled with a special light from the brilliance
of the snow-capped peaks.
Smiling at the grey horizon,
I have often sped through the resonant forest on my bay.
And a guileless happiness has awakened within me
from the swaying blades of grass and the waves of clouds.
I would like to hang like the dew about the glade,
To pierce the firmament like a crazed bird,
to become a stone, or the moon…
Or to burn namelessly, a golden flower on the earth of Mongolzhon.
Yurta on a Skyscaper
There is a skyscraper.
At the very top
I am setting up a yurta. What for?
SImply in order to live, to be closer to the sky,
To the moon. For no other reason…
You are surprised, of course.
Well, no wonder…..
amidst the smoke of the city
I will tend great flocks of clouds
in the carefree azure of the sky.
They are fleecy
and cumulus- those lambs.
The expanse of pasture land is vast.
Meadows from sunrise to sunset.
And this is not just idle fancy,
all that I’m telling you.
Trust in the height. Form there
It’s so good to greet the dawn.