Mongolian Poetry 01: Waiting

Although I first met the scholar-poet Zava Damdin (1976- ) in 2004, I began my formal training as one of his English language interpreters in the Year of the Green Wood Horse (2015) when together with Erdenetsogtyn Sodontogos we translated The Great Nenchen. I continue to study this particular art form with “Zava Bagsh” to this day.

It’s no easy gig interpreting for a Mongolian High Lama right?

Nevertheless I keep practicing!

As our famous TwosetViolin classical music officionadi would say,

“We love to Practice!!” 

Today I’d like to share with you a recently completed interpretation into the English language of one of Zava Damdin’s Mongolian poems “ХҮЛЭЭХҮЙ” or the English “Waiting”. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed studying it!

This photograph is of Mongolian Khalkha Zava Damdin’s (1976- ) calligraphy ink brush and tools on his traditional Mongolian table. In English, the Mongol Bichig script (on the right, "ХҮЛЭЭХҮЙ") translates as “Waiting.” Location: Soyombot Oron, Delgertsogt Sum in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. 21 February 2024. Photograph: Reprinted on with permission.

This photograph is of the Mongolian Scholar-Poet Zava Damdin’s (1976- ) calligraphy ink brush and tools on his traditional writing table. In English, the Mongol Bichig script (on the right, “ХҮЛЭЭХҮЙ”) translates as “Waiting.” Location: Soyombot Oron, Delgertsogt Sum in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. 21 February 2024. Photograph reprinted on with permission.


 Mongolian Cyrillic Text Version


Хөр цасан хайлахуйг хүлээнэм
Хөхүмдэг яргуй дэлбээлж аглаг уулыг чимэхүйг хүлээнэм
Хөх тэнгэрийн чинад дор ганганах ангир шувуудыг хүлээнэм
Хүй орчил улирал бүр орчдогоороо орчсоор буй атал
Хүлээхүй сэтгэл яг юуг үргэлж хүлээнэм буй
Хүмүүний сэтгэлийг л харуулдан хүлээн буй биз

Хүсэмжлэн бодох тэрхүү хүлээлт инү харин
Өөрийнхөө сэтгэлийг өөрөө хүлээх мэт аж
Өр зүрхэндээ хайлан мэлтэгнэхүйг хүлээх мэт
Өвчүүн доторхи аглаг уулаа үргэлж хавар болгохуйг зөгнөх мэт
Өрнүүн сэтгэлдээ ангир болоод дуулан нисэхүйг эгээрэх мэт
Өрнийг бус дорныг бус өмнөдийг ч бус умрыг ч бус
Өвч сэтгэлийн төв дор бүргэд мэт тогтон нисэхүйг хүлээн буй аж

Цогт уулын бялзуухай бээр бичив
Луу жилийн Цагаан Сарын шинийн арван нэгэн

Соёмбот Орон

Зава Дамдин



An Interpretation into the English Language


Waiting for the thick and icy snow to melt
Waiting for the remote mountain to be decorated with beautiful blue anemones
Listening to the sound of ducks echo across the waterways
As usual all the universes and seasons are turning, and yet
What is the heart still waiting for?
It awaits human heart, anyway

The expectations of wishful waiting
Are like waiting for your own mind
Likewise, heart’s melting and wavering
It’s like predicting that the interior chest mountain will have eternal spring
In my higher mind, I wish to become a windborne duck, and sing
Not to the west or to the east. Not to the south or to the north
At the centre of my heart I dwell, like an eagle taking flight

Written by a little finch on a dragon mountain
Eleventh day of the White Moon month in The Year of the Dragon

Land of Soyombot

Zava Damdin

Translated by Zava Damdin and C.Pleteshner.
English interpretation 26.02.2024 from the original Mongolian 21.02.2024.



A Bilingual Collection of Zava Damdin (1976- ) Poetry. Vol. 1 (2021-2024). The Zava Damdin Sutra and Scripture Institute Library Archive, Manjushri Temple Soyombot Oron, Mongolia. Unpublished manuscript. pp43-44.



Excluding the preparatory training and clarity of narrative structure and ideation required, the journey of such compositions tends to move through three phases, starting with: (i) the creation of the original composition with the vertical Mongol Bichig Script (see above photograph); (ii) the subsequent transfer and rendering of this transcript into the Mongolian Cyrillic Script; and then on to, (iii) a (British) English language interpretation, such as you see here. I bring to this interpretive exercise my own particular collection of English language narrative skills and their imagined audiences. From this perspective, a final English language version of a narrative emerges as a negotiated text.

Translation is always an interpretation into another culture.



In keeping with ethical scholarly research and publishing practices and the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, I anticipate that anyone using or translating into another language all or part of this article and submitting it for accreditation or other purpose under their own name, to acknowledge this URL and its author as the source. Not to do so, is contrary to the ethical principles of the Creative Commons license as it applies to the public domain.

end of transcript.

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© 2013-2024. CP in Mongolia. This post is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Documents linked from this page may be subject to other restrictions. Posted: 1 March 2024. Last updated: 1 March 2024.