Tears of Regret Flow Uncontrollably

When a girl of fifteen is not sent to school but is given over to the milk cows;
When a charming, slender girl does not marry but is used by a swindler;
When a beautiful bride does not fit into her new household and is abandoned to roam in unknown, distant lands —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When a white-haired old man does not know the alphabet but recites mantras for this life and the next;
When a white-toothed young man does not know the four vowels but adorns his chest with gold ornaments;
When a pure-hearted monk does not know how to punctuate sentences but conducts rituals in the home —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the children of farmers and herders aren’t sent to school but spend their time with flocks of goats and sheep;
When the schoolyard is empty of students but full of grass and weeds;
When the classroom walls crumble in the rain while the teacher revels in drink —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the field of culture is trampled under the hooves of those who disparage it;
When the flower garden of education withers in the drought of conservatism;
When the peachlike face of literature is infested by swarms of ravenous insects —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the broad heart of the snowy mountains is covered with filthy dust and sand;
When the courageous peaks of the rocky mountains are split apart by black-beaked crows;
When the wisdom of the grassy mountains’ fertile slopes is undermined by thousands of gophers —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the stallion of progress and knowledge is bound tightly by the hobbles of domination;
When the white yak of freedom is chained by the nose to a hybrid yak-cow and made subservient to her;
When the sheep of peace and happiness are exploited for profit and sheared again and again —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When incomparable geniuses wander as beggars in foreign lands;
When unprecedented idiots sit upon the thrones of brilliant scholars;
When savages control the wise and knowledgeable —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

When the pure river of an untainted history is contaminated with the salty water of distortion;
When the unblemished vow on the face of a stone monument is defaced with one-sided views;
When the incomparably white pool of the five sciences becomes the playground for lying frogs —
Oh — how tears of regret flow uncontrollably from my eyes!

Translation by Janet L. Upton

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