As you may be aware, today is the 450th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s birth. In order to mark the occasion, let us share some more of the Bard’s most famous lines translated into Tibetan. This time, the translation comes directly from the forthcoming Tibetan version of Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. The project to translate the book into Tibetan—back into Tibetan, you might almost say—has been ongoing for quite some time. In fact, it began almost as soon as the English language version of the book was first published in 1992. Thus far, it has involved a number of Tibetan lamas and scholars, including, but not limited to, Ringu Tulku Rinpoche, Dhongthog Rinpoche, Kelsang Lhamo (who translated the passage from Julius Caesar we posted here in December), Sangye Tendar Naga and Tsering Gonkatsang.
Anyone familiar with the English version of the book will know that it contains a number of quotations from the classics of Western literature, including the poetry of Blake and Shakespeare. Some of these proved easier than others to render in Tibetan, but I think you’ll agree that the following lines from The Merchant of Venice, which are cited in chapter 12, work especially well in Tibetan:
The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d,
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes…
Happy Birthday Shakespeare!