Galsan Tschinag


You Will Always Be Untamable


- Poems -


Translated by Richard Hacken

From Galsan Tschinag, Nimmer werde ich Dich zähmen können
(Frauenfeld, Switzerland: Waldgut Verlag, 1996)

Return to: The Poetry of Galsan Tschinag



The Miracle


The miracle

Circling in the stars

Is mine to pull down

And hold

I force words from you

That suit my ears

And think myself justified

To build a nest

Where I can make them hatch

Into light little birds

Capable of flying out

To bring back for us

Those days that are gone





A Blade Of Grass


A blade of grass

On your steppe

I rebel against the storm winds

Searching for something solid

The blade

That must grow next to me

I reach and reach

Into emptiness

Until I realize

I will have to stand

By myself




Let Nobody Come Too Near Me


Let nobody come too near me

Inside me is a bubbling and a seething

I am energized with forces


To the son of the sky

And grandson of the mountains

Stillness born in the primordial hour

Spreading out and attending me

All along my path

Will, when the day is ripe,

Impose itself on earth's crusty hide

Penetrate its pores

And grow to fires

That can never be extinguished.





The World


When the world

Surrounded by ticking clocks

Pauses for once

And the silence

Pours out

Filling you

To all your extremities

That is the moment

Of truth

You must look in the eye

And confess:

Have you been as honest

With yourself as much

As you've beaten down others

With your honesty?




Inside The Morning


Within the morning

Lives a secret

Get up, my large-eyed woman

I would like

To chase after

The beams of sun

With you

And find out

Why they bend around and

Away from the yurt

When you're not there

Without that certainty

I don't plan on getting any older

And if I die at all

I intend on doing that

Only after lifting the veil

On all the secrets

Of this earth and

Laying them at your feet








Without you

Time drags

Hour after hour

It stacks up

With nothing but stillbirths

I can't name

A single name

For what is going on around me

But I know I have

To stand and watch it all





Meager The Warmth In The Hut


Meager the warmth in the hut

The oven has gone out


Two people are lying

With their backs to each other

Such that the heat of their bodies

Slips away from them

Both are weaving at a dream

If only the snow


Into the second month of winter

Would finally appear

Maybe it would patch up all the breaks in the ground

Who knows





Your Love


Your love was

A mighty river

That flooded and carried me

Into another, even more beautiful land

For the length of a dream

I was

Another nobler being there

And when I awakened

I found my Altai

Had become bluer yet and

Whiter again


To the landscapes

In your eyes





On The Dreary Days


On the dreary days

Creeping towards me

And wading into me

Hour after hour

I pull my parts together

Until I squat as small as a sparrow

Unable to fly away

Or even to bear

What's happening to me

At your intervention

The sparrow transforms itself

Into an eye

In which is found one tear

Full of stars





Blue Stillness


Blanketed in the blue

Stillness of the steppe

You stand

In my thoughts

Solar faces

Shine around you and

Flow into one another

They have illuminated you

Along the years

Have led you across

To me and have themselves

Finally flowed into me

I am the youngest

Among your suns





A Storm Of Birds


A storm of birds

Like stones catapulted

At you and me

From across the far shore of the time-river

With the lusterless look

Of the incoming age

We accompany

The scattering swarm

Beyond the woods

That received us in life

But now will outlast even our children

By centuries





I Saw Your House


I saw your house

Twenty times as large

As the yurt

Where I wanted

To take you as my bride

So now I know

The efforts

I owed

To fit you

Into my life

Should have been

Twenty times greater

To counter it

My love

Would have been encased

As a coffin in your home

While I myself

Stayed outside





Those That Devastated You


Those that devastated you

Were aware

That I was to follow

Their preparations have been

Well made

Your body is

A fortress


Can I touch

Without wounding myself

On the ramparts

Of foreign invasions





Today Again


Today again

Your tongue slipped

Like a snake the name

Hissed out of you

Which I will have to swallow

No doubt a thousand times more

But never will digest

For our sake I wish

You could empty out the years

The cemetery of your previous life

But memory alone

Is the barbed hook

That will never set it free





All My Brightness


Mixing all my brightness

In a drink

And setting it before you

Maybe that will loose

The braids of time

Stuck to you so long

And now branching out against me

Like a spider's web?





Let My Love Be Water


Let my love be water

With it, the precious water

Scooped from the fountain of my heart

I will wash away

All smudges from your name

And drive off any foreign elements

From our surroundings


Let my love be fire

With it, the wild fire

Ignited by flames of lunacy

I will scorch away the crust

Of your all-indulgent skin

And get down to your core


Let my love be stone

With it, the heavy stone

Broken from our tired bones

I will bury the years

Now flying back

To tear us apart





On A Path


On a path

Of soft blue

And warm yellow

I wander

All the wrinkles of earth's body

Are flooded with lights

The elements face each other

In a gentle passion of daybreak

The birds sing songs

I've incubated myself

Released to hazy distances

I live awaiting the wonder

That will happen

Later today

At the eleventh hour





Strange And Foreign


Strange and foreign festival

Streaked with rain

Unreal as any word

Whispered in the dream state

The city is

A lame bird

Dodging and dozing

Under a shrub

The houses are

Its drooping wings

Each window

A weeping eye

Since you're with me

I overlook

The misery

Of the roots you know

I stand Colossus-like

The prince from a fairy tale

In which, facing off all doubters,

You alone believe





Heavily I Made It



I made it across

The night

Under my pillow


The punishment

For my delay

In each

Of your skin folds

I knew

The gnome

Who, left behind

By my predecessors


You against me






The yurt stands

The fire burns

The mother lives

Rainwater runs across the floor

Slides cord-thin past the chest

With the scuffed corners

Comes to a halt and

Splinters into three threads

Each one eats its way

Forward through sparse yellow steppe grass

With the single-mindedness of fire

From the trembling trident I recognize

The lines of my own palm

Years of life lie assembled

In a herd like yaks

On a twin island stripped bare

In each trickle is the flicker

Of reddish-black water

With a blue fin

In my temples there seems to be a pounding

That curls into a question:

Will the tripartite water

Reach the ocean?



Clouds Froth Up


Clouds froth up

Woods flutter in the wind

Primeval forces are

At work


You lie

Sideways in me

And I know

You will always

Be untamable





Leaf Piles That Scattered


Leaf piles that scattered

In the wind of birds taking flight

And that flamed for a hundred days

Along the edges of pathways

Must now


In order to fit

The groove of time and


From the face of earth

The same river of time

Will carry me

Out of your life

And wash me up on a shore


Even in your dreams






A Leaf Attached To You


I am a leaf attached to you, my tree,

A piece of fluff from your fibrous body

The water of life comes running

To me through you

And the path to the treetop carries me

Across your hollows and hills

The time crashing against you

Into pieces of day and night

Always confronts me at the trunk

And keeps me turning

Next to you

I storm through each hour of life

In the effervescence of elements

That come from the hub of earth

And if even a thousand years

Were allotted me

I would find no time

To wither but would remain

Ever green at your side



I Don't Always Want


I don't always want

To be the one who goes

To the things of this earth

To explain himself

For once, if you please

The mountain

Can show up at my place

And hold out the stones

That tumble down and mean me

He can say out loud

That insanity is the other

Inappropriate word for

Being trans-ported

And that the poet

Is a human mountain

I want to know

The wind at my side, so it

Will hunt for powers in me

Will learn to grow to a storm

And flatten whatever does not deserve

To take up life-space

All abandoned dreams

May nestle under my wings

I will train them

To face the vultures





The Stone


The stone

Which is your word and


The stone

Which is your word and


Comes flying

In a low arc


I stretch forth

A shield of lies

The word-stone

Bounces off

Missing me

And dropping away with my love


To the point of no return




The Yellow Of The Sun


The yellow of the sun combined

With the grayness of the valleys

Merging into blue

Silver-threaded strands peeled away

From the onrushing morning

Streamed in light and floating lines

Towards the unending distances

Mountain and hill began

To stagger and sway

Into the glacier-bright Altai

The fifteenth of July marched in

Grasses grew, winds blew

And every hair's breadth of me

Was filled with you




Two People


Two people


Going two

Respectively wrong


In the heart of each

Sits a knife





In Your Own Salt


In your own salt I find you

Most convincing

And so I'd like

To look into your failing eyes

And feel your trembling shoulders

To intoxicate myself with the fire

Burning in you and meant for me

At some point, I know

Your heart will explode

And in its worn-out scraps

My callousness will find its nest

Then calm will finally enter in

At this breast

The cemetery plot of our love

I know it, know it




Love Is A Fairytale


Love is a fairytale

That I can tell you with some skill

You are the lone character in it

For you are the loveliest, the richest, most magnificent

And so from this hour you are the axis

Around which the earth will turn

Love will be your water and bread

To serve as sustenance

And as the steed

That carries you past planets

But now and then also

The storm wind twirling you in circles

And flinging you through the mill

Where salt is ground

Into the wounds

That you in your arrogance


On the world and on yourself

And since love is just a fairytale

Everything I say will be true






When The Night of Love Has Burned Away


When the night of love has burned away

Its paths of light float

Above the intersection

Of departing and arriving dreams


To illuminate irregularities

In the coarse fibers of daylight

Two humans go

Smiling through the hours

To live awaiting night
They are two fountains

Filling to the brim

And coming together

As streams

Under the evening star

In order to flow once more through the night

As a river united

And to have their waves


To sparks and flames




May My Words Like Hailstones


May my words

Beat on you like hailstones

Precipitated by a helpless rage

I will never forgive

The transgression

Jutting from your shore

Impossible to eradicate as a rock

The current has carried off

The raft

Tears that flow from your cheeks

To my chest

Just form a salty puddle there

The creation of our world

Is complete

Neither the garden path

Nor the great happiness

Are ever going to be




The Hilly Shouldered Steppe


I dreamed again of the hilly shouldered

Steppe with its surging sea of grass

But once again lost my way

I searched for the yurts

For the swans and you and me

But found only the land

Yawning void with emptiness again

Now covered with frost

The multibillion pebbles

Sparkled like frozen tears

And more than one shattered and crumbled

Under the unaccustomed weight

Of me

I knew the yurts

Had moved on to the mountain valleys

The swans had flown south

And you and I had been

Overtaken by time

And had


Down the well-known track

Of life




My Gift To You Will Be A Yurt


My gift to you will be a yurt

Where togetherness lives

Of love it will be spun

Of my bright and quiet love

Within it you shall spend days

To make you pregnant with dreams

And within you shall experience nights

To give them birth


My entry place will be a yurt

Where togetherness lives

Of love it will be spun

Of our bright and quiet love




When The Hour Was Late


When the hour was late

I stepped

Across bright snow


The night aside


The meadow in two


Up to you

My wakeful harbor

My waiting hearth




Possessed By You


Possessed by you

I counter time's chronology

Stripping off the suffocating annual rings

From my body

As I would clothing at night

Growing backward toward toddler tongues

Pushing toward the earliest edge

With an inner mountain boy's sacred simplicity

That I choked off

In dust on the path to the top

But now you, water of life

From twin fountains

Solar-rounded, heavenly blue

Alive once more




One Hour You've Been Gone


One hour you've been gone

And now our bed

Our warm bed is growing cold

Why take the warmth with you?

Why leave me lone as an orphan child?

Why give me over to bald, clammy walls

And a ticking, teasing clock?

How empty and endless the room

That used to be so close fitting

Without the large all-seeing eyes

And the quick all-reaching arms

How stale the air without your scent

That maddening mix of chemistry and onions

How empty and heavy my head

Without the proper shoulder for it

To lean against and send a bright swarm

Of thoughts into the universe







Wind of my heart


Light of my eyes


Sky for my head

And earth for my feet

Even you will betray me someday

You will, since everyone does

Just as anyone who eats and drinks

Is irritated by hunger and thirst

But later with a full stomach

Glances with benevolence again

At his own plate

And at people waiting around other plates

On this earth betrayal simply happens

Like birth and death

And in between

Racing against the moment


So you will

Betray me one day

Just as you eat and drink and breathe

Just as I will betray you

Before that happens, though,

The wonder happening between you and me

Lasting almost into the second winter

Will have to leave us

So that we can once again be

Worldly and human




Filled With You


Filled with you

I stepped out into the morning fog

Began slitting open the lurking winter

For hours on end

Starting at the closest corner

Its ferocious skin, its numbing air

Marching on

Up to the eleventh of December

I knew

Your warmth will accompany me

To the end of all planets

And ages




Without Birds


Without birds

Without sky

The day dozes

Within itself again

The fog hanging

For the second straight week

Has oppressed autumn

And has begun

To sour

I too live

Empty and sour

Standing dumbly

Before the script

That is you

That is all of a sudden

No longer legible




My Life


My life is

Like your bed-sheet

Stained and frayed


The smirking traces

Of others' cravings

Etch my soul



I need to guard myself

From the after-pains

Of games completed

In which your body

Was the playing field




The First Cluster


The first cluster

Of sharp-cornered rays

From the rising sun

Leaps in my direction

Dashes into the stream

And flows away

For a second

I live in dread:

I could be the one

To drown

In you

My young and heavy happiness




The Storm Wind Has Been Shaking


The storm wind has been shaking

The mountains

Who knows how many days

Grass and shrub

Cower and clutch tightly

To the sinews of the soil


You've held your stand in me

Who knows how many years

Giving way to nobody

Defending your position


The birds migrate


Again and again


The tear you shed

In a wretched hour

Has yet to drop

From your eyelash




The Coastline


The coastline

Where you and I

Were lifted from earth's heaviness

And tossed back to ourselves

Now lies

Torn apart

Shrieking gulls

Are no substitute

For the crashing waves

That poured out

Over the depths

At the hour our sane

Sacred world broke in two


Happiness demands payment




One Hundred Thousand Red-Breasted Geese


One hundred thousand red-breasted geese

Sweep away

Across the steppe

Combing the grass and clouds

In a single direction

Their wind

Splits against mine

As it breaks through

The gathering winter

Along my spine

And marrow pulsating

Rushing to you

My summer

In the cold north




Your Fingers and Mine


Your fingers and mine

Reached for each other

A yurt of ten fingers

That housed our love

Lay between us

The years have

Swept away the yurt

Two fists

Now defend

The fortress

Where we

Live our selves




Storms Have Raged


Storms have raged

In this one autumn

As never

In all the years before


On your side and mine

We both stand

Like skeletons

Laid bare

To the core

No riddles

No more promises

To each other


Created differently and

Mutually unrewarding

We stand

On separate hills




Do You Sense


Do you sense

The light, gentle vibrations?

They are my wind currents

Sneaking around you

Fiber by fiber

They peel away

The skin

Hiding you from me

Each hair-breadth

That they expose

I quickly cover over

With me


I'm growing

Into your new skin







Under the yellow dawn

Has no place for laughter

Better to weep, girl

I'm glad to kiss the tears

From your eyelashes

And to imagine

That you feel as much pain

As I do this hour

At the far end of a sentence

Punctuated by two question marks







You flew in

And settled

Next to me

Endearing light

So multi-radiant

Like fibers


Along the heart

I saw you

Shining into me

And I felt

All my branches awaken

They stood in rows

And burned




You Were A Log


You were a log

My gray-eyed night

On the fire

Threatening to go out

The drink I hand you

Out of gratitude

Will be salty and full of ash

But it will explain me

To you completely




I'm Cold


I'm cold

The blood has retreated into my heart sac

Before making its way to my veins

The tears have frozen in my throat

Before rising to my eyes

Am I even living my life anymore

When blood and tears

No longer flow?

The storm tide that bowled me over

In the midst of my years

Started in my furrows

It seems I've lived

The life of a prince

Now I'm faced

With that of a dog




In You


In you lie

Dead years

I must not

Dig there

Dead time

Is different

Than dead people

I can still leap up

And create malice




Like A Little Girl


When you snuggle against me

Like a little girl and tremble

I unfold my landscapes

Above you

To counter the night

Pressing down on you

Too black and too troubled

I rest easier, too

Without wrinkles

And weave the chrysalis of a butterfly

That will flutter across

When the stars extinguish

To settle on your eyelids




In The Clouds


My place is

In the clouds

Bubbling up behind the mountain

With the swaying woods

The cranes left it for me

As they splintered off the sky

Of our summer

And sailed towards winter

Their call

Was the voice of farewell

Which we've long known in us

Lying in my travel bag

Packed in clothing with your scent

Is the salt

I will use as a lick

While I migrate on

To a new nest




Water Priceless


Water priceless

Wood priceless

Words priceless

I grew heavily

Out of the stony desert ground

Between mountains

My tongue and teeth developed

To squelch all squandering

Now I peel myself away

In words


To the poison

Found in the primeval milk

Whose way I follow


My scarce and weighty word

Is now on its way to you




The Pill


I have swallowed

The pill of unforgettable

The hours you and I

Spent in the hollow of lunacy

Lie inside me

Like boulder scree from the steppe


To stave off all who wish

To take your place




Now I Must Live


Now I must live

Without even the

Black hawk

The light storms

Of the sinking day

Have come

To flood the emptiness

That those hawks

Have left behind

In the broiling rings of sun

The thought of summer


Your image from me

It has moved on again

The distance of one lasso-throw

Under the bird-weary clouds

Behind the furrowed mount

I know the hour

That will come

And release me




The Swallows Have Flown Out


The swallows have flown out

In my hope of reaching you

Their imprints are stamped

Into the sky

Like border stakes between you and me


At the point where they end

May the sky of our summer

Continue on undivided




Onto Your Warm White Skin


The moonlight dribbled

Onto your warm white skin

And sloshed its way across to me

Behind us

Stood an invisible shadow

Guarding each and all

Like a dividing wall

Our innocent night

Lay between light and dark




Your Mountains


Your mountains

Were witnesses to my cowardice

I am scratched

Into their memory

Of stone

Now they raise

Their clenched fists

Straight across my path

How can I ever

Still their rage?




The Wave-Patterned Countenance Of The Steppe


The wave-patterned countenance of the steppe

Tells me of ages

When I was wind

Romping with the first forces

So many outbursts of the elements

Now lie at my feet

Tempered into stone

Polished round as eyes

And my spent forces

Rest, trans-colored and trans-formed

Waiting for the hour


When it arrives

They will disentangle me

And with me bundle up again

The scattering parts

And thus the threshold

That opened for the length of a dream

Will once again fall shut




Richard Hacken, European Studies Bibliographer,
Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, USA.
Comments, corrections and suggestions are welcome: hacken @