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Origins: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)

BRANDY TREE (Otter's Song)
OLD FAT BOAT (Mattapoisset Harbor Inventory)

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GUEST,The Irish Girl 22 Apr 04 - 11:04 PM
jacqui.c 23 Apr 04 - 03:48 AM
Mark Cohen 23 Apr 04 - 07:56 AM
GUEST 27 Apr 04 - 01:04 PM
DonMeixner 27 Apr 04 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,Melani 28 Apr 04 - 01:59 PM
GUEST 28 Jul 08 - 09:44 AM
DonMeixner 28 Jul 08 - 01:22 PM
GUEST,Subho 10 May 09 - 11:53 PM
GUEST,G.R. 12 May 09 - 10:41 PM
GUEST,MR. Paduh 01 Jul 09 - 08:03 AM
GUEST 11 Sep 10 - 08:28 AM
kendall 11 Sep 10 - 09:08 AM
kendall 11 Sep 10 - 01:01 PM
GUEST,M.Jin Neog 30 Apr 11 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Dawn K.lukhi 31 May 11 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,Joyce Sumer 26 Sep 11 - 06:00 PM
GUEST 22 Nov 22 - 05:47 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
From: GUEST,The Irish Girl
Date: 22 Apr 04 - 11:04 PM

I have a recording of Gordon bok singing a gorgeous song called Sier Lapalang. I've searched for the lyrics but haven't been able to find them. Does anyone know the lyrics, and maybe also a translation of them? (I'm not sure, but I think the song is East Indian.)

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
From: jacqui.c
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 03:48 AM

Go to his web site and I'm sure he will give you what you want.
www.Gordon or Timberhead Music.

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Subject: Lyr Add: SIER LAPALANG
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 23 Apr 04 - 07:56 AM

From Gordon's first songbook, "Time and the Flying Snow" (Folk-Legacy, 1977):


Ko lapalang phrang sngi jong nga
Kumba tyngshain u mangkara
Khlem sngap ki 'tien sangsot i mei
Me shem lanot ha ka pyrthei
Na snieh pyrthei shaei me phet
Sa tang marwei nga sah knunswet
Haba na nga kyhnrem me khlad
Dohnud sngewsih nga im suh-sat.

Wow la shet ka 'tieh pong deng
Ia ka rynieng u kynremreng
Wow la kjit u nam sarang
Ia ka mynsiem u lapalang

Ko khun nga ong ynnai leit kiew
Sha ri Khasi ka ri ki briew
Shong khop ha la ri them ri thor
Bam la u khah bam la u nor
Ngin bam da u jangew jathang
Baroh shi lyiur baroh shi tlang
Pynban kynrem na nga me khlad
Marwei nga swai nga jaw ummat

La shat ka shanam shalyngot
Me pat hati u khadar bor
Na me ki dum ka sngi u bnai
Sha nga kumno pat men wan phai
U nam tabla u bam na krung
Pyllup me pat rangbah rangduh
Ummat aiu ngan sait khatduh

Kynshreng me phuh ha khmat i mei
Mynba me ieng ha la rympei
Na lyndet khlur mynta me sngap
Jingud ka kmie ba shem ka pap
Kynshreng me phuh ka khmat i mei
Mynba me ieng ha la rympei
Na lyndet khlur mynta me sngap
Jingud ka kmie ba shem ka pap

partial translation:

Mother deer tells fawn:
Don't go to land of Khasis
Because they'll kill you.
Fawn didn't pay attention,
Went anyway.
Shot by many arrows and died.
This is her lament.

Oh, the betrayal of the bow
Has drawn your life away,
The stature of your beauty,
Of the heart, of the deer.

Gordon's comment:

"These are the words (finally) to this song, by the kindness of the lady, Mrs. George Allen, who first played it for me and who tried to teach me how to sing it.
However the days fall, some are hard to everyone. I can't tell you the peace that this song has brought to me; even in its own sorrow there is an ancient and powerful consolation in the melody that can hold you, no matter how hard the words try to cry to your heart. Sometimes (maybe), it is better not to know a language."



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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
Date: 27 Apr 04 - 01:04 PM

Wow, thanks Mark! that's what I was looking for!

"Sometimes (maybe), it is better not to know a language." Maybe, but I'd rather know what I'm singing! Does anyone have a complete translation?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
From: DonMeixner
Date: 27 Apr 04 - 04:15 PM

Hi Irish Girl,

Gordon's is the onliest recording of this song I am aware of. You will probably have to find someone who speaks this dialect.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 28 Apr 04 - 01:59 PM

Does anybody know anything about the Khasis--who they are, where they live? Gordon Bok has an unfortunate way of singing in very unusual languages without identifying them or explaining in any way.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 09:44 AM

I'm looking for a recording of this song?
My mother is a Khasi from Shillong and this is her favourite song.
I would love for her to be able to hear it.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
From: DonMeixner
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 01:22 PM

Look on Gordon's early Folk Legacy recordings, "Tune For November" may have it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang
From: GUEST,Subho
Date: 10 May 09 - 11:53 PM

for anyone who wants to hear the song -

it is a truly haunting tune.

The Khasi's are a sort of mongoloid people living on the eastern boundary of india. they are exploited day and night by New Delhi and all other indians. I really feel sorry for them and wish these mongoloid states would become free from india and oppression.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
From: GUEST,G.R.
Date: 12 May 09 - 10:41 PM

"Khasi from different regions have small, but noted differences. They are descendants of Mon-Khmer speakers who migrated probably from Mongolia to Meghalaya." (Wikipedia)

I am sure Government of India will neither stop or encourage them from leaving Meghalaya for Mongolia.

How are the Khasis "exploited day and night"? They must be incredibly wealthy or incredibly sleepless.

On the other hand, the People's Republic of China has designs on the land where the Khasis ALONG WITH OTHER ETHNICITIES reside and would love to embrace them with as much love as that shown to Tibetans.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
From: GUEST,MR. Paduh
Date: 01 Jul 09 - 08:03 AM

Take a look at this version

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 08:28 AM

I found this thread looking for the lyrics to the song and so may be a little late in claryfying some things. In response to GUEST Subho, post dated 10 May 09, the khasis are not exploited by New Delhi and other Indians. Exploitation is rampant in the Khasi hills, but from our own people in the state Government and administration. It is very unfortunate that the most corrupt officials and ministers are Khasis.   Most Indians knew very little about our hills upto about 10 years ago, but people are now more aware about the north-eastern part of India and are interested in knowing more.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
From: kendall
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 09:08 AM

Many many years ago Gordon told me what the lyrics mean, but I'm afraid I have forgotten most of what he said. As I recall, it is a Mother deer that is warning her fawn about rushing into the meadow where danger may lurk.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
From: kendall
Date: 11 Sep 10 - 01:01 PM

Google it.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
From: GUEST,M.Jin Neog
Date: 30 Apr 11 - 11:47 AM

such a bliss listening this song..though i don know khasi except two three words..there,s a saying in our assam that goes like ' Horinar manxoi boiri' means deer is enemy of its own cause of its own meat.. Its worth mentioning that the khasi culture has a great impact on our assmese culture and we are really very thankfull to them for these precious things...khublei shibun..tiah suk!!

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Subject: Patriotic message
From: GUEST,Dawn K.lukhi
Date: 31 May 11 - 10:00 AM

Let this song be a message to all the Khasis, that no matter,wherever in the world you may be,always remember your roots and be proud that you're a Khasi.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
From: GUEST,Joyce Sumer
Date: 26 Sep 11 - 06:00 PM

This song is not just a message to the Khasis but to the world. Its a love story, that can only come from a mothers heart.
the following lyrics may not be from the original composition-- but happy to share it with you, just as the class eight students of Brookside Adventist Higher Secondary School, Shillong, would perform on their annual meet 10th November 2011. We will be happy to share the practice session with full translation ...very soon.


1.        K o Lapalang phrangsngi jong nga
       Kumba tyngshaiñ u Mangkara ;
       Khlem sngap ki `tien sangsot   I Mei
       Me shem lanot ha ka pyrthei
       Na snieh pyrthei shaei me phet?
       Sa tang marwei nga sah khunswet ;
       Haba na nga kynrem me khlad ,
       Dohnud sngewsih nga im sohsat.

2.        N aduh ba kha nga ri kyndong
       Ha ka ba ïaid bathiah bashong
       Nga bud kylleng ha kti ha kjat
       Ba mynsaw ïa phi kan ym ngat
       Nga kdang ban peit tang ïa u khun
       Ba paw khmat eh hapdeng ba bun
       Ym don nga I ba phieng ba phuh
       Kat u khun nga naduh haduh

3.        K o khun nga ong ynnai leit kiew
       Sha ri khasi sha ri ki briew ;
       Shong khop, ha la ri them ri thor,
       bam la u khah bam la u nor.
       Ngin bam da u jangew jathang,
       Baroh shi lyiur baroh shi tlang ;
       Pyn ban kynrem na nga me khlad,
       Marwei nga Swai nga jaw ummat.

4.        L a shad ka 'nam shalyngor.
       Me pat ha kti u khat ar bor ;
       Na me ki dum ka sngi u bnai,
       Sha nga, kumno pat men wan phai?
       Nam pliang dusmon ïa me u dung,
       U nam tabla u ban na krung ;
       Pyllup, me pat rang bah ryngkuh,
       Ummat aiu, ngan sait khadduh.

5.        K ynshreng me phuh ha jan i Mei,
       Mynba me ïeng ha la Rympei ;
       Mynta , na lyndet khlur me sngap,
       Jing iam ka kmie ba shem ka pap.
       Wow! La shet ka 'tieh pongdeng,
       Ïa ka rynieng u Kynrem Reng ;
       Wow! La kjit u nam sarang ;
       Ïa ka mynsiem u lapalang.
       Wow! La shet ka 'tieh pongdeng,
       Ïa ka rynieng u Kynrem Reng ;
       Wow! La kjit u nam sarang ;
       Ïa ka mynsiem u lapalang.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Sier Lapalang (from Gordon Bok)
Date: 22 Nov 22 - 05:47 AM

This is the best translation of this beloved folk tale.
I tried attempting to translate the lines literally but then i found this.

Thank you Bah Philip Lyngdoh, KHublei shihajar nguh.

U Sier Lapalang and His Beloved Mother: A Khasi Folk Tale
Philip Lyngdoh | 16-Sep-2020

In the days of long ago, when the Sun and the Moon were still young and the trees and stones still speak the language of the humans, at the foot of the hills beyond the Khasi country, lay the placid plains of the Ri Dkhar (Bangla plains). Rivers and streams meandered through these plains, roaring throughout the seasons, rich with Fishes and Ferns, Reeds and Duckweeds, water Lilies and Bulrushes and all kind of water vegetation. Patches of verdant forests dot the banks and waved with rich vegetation, be it summer or winter. In the midst of this verdant and idyllic countryside, touched by sunshine all year round, there lived a deer and her only son, a stag she named U Sier Lapalang. The mother-deer loved her son more than any mother did. Her Sier Lapalang was her life, her joy, and she doted on him, catering to his every whim and fancy. He was indeed handsome and regal-looking. His coat was a gold-tinted fawn colour, downy with white spots, which graced his lean and muscular body. His head stood erect, his eyes a piercing brown and from his forehead, full-grown antlers spread majestically like an intricate crown. He stood out from the rest and the mother’s heart swelled with pride as she watched him move about effortlessly with easy litheness and agility through the bushes, rocks and mounds.

Being the apple of his mother’s eye, U Sier Lapalang was pampered in every way even as he grew in age and stature. To the mother, he was the brightly shining Mankara, the morning star. Unfortunately, he also grew in arrogance and conceit precisely because of his mother’s mollycoddling. As the years passed he began to get restless at the humdrum life they led, eating only the ‘khah and nor’ (common aquatic plants), and never venturing out of the monotonous plains day in and day out. Oftentimes his gaze went up the hills that his mother used to talk so much about. His young blood yearned to go romping about to the mountains, gorges and woodlands. He was growing tired of the wide, treeless plains and being tied to his mother’s apron strings all the time. And so, one fine spring day, as the golden rays of the sun seemed to spray their golden hue on the trees and flowers on the hillsides, U Sier Lapalang’s desire for adventure reached its zenith.

He looked up to the hills on the north and said, ‘Oh, mother, how I long to go to the hill country that lay so peacefully on the slopes. It seemed rocked to sleep by the sun’s rays and birdsong of myriads of birds! Sometimes I see the silvery glitter of the springs and cascades as they flow down the hillsides, dancing in the sun. I see the flowers nodding their heads to the gentle breeze! I can also feel their sweet scent wafting down to my nostrils!’ ‘I want to taste and see’, he continued, ‘the country of the Gods, feel the zephyr on my face, drink of the perennial springs that well up from the rocks and savour from close range the beauty of the cascading, milky-white waterfalls’. He told his mother he was tired of the monotonous life they were living so far. He especially wanted to taste the bitter but delicious herb, jangew-jathang, which his mother used to talk so much about.

His mother shuddered with alarm at his intentions and said to him, ‘My darling child, the Khasi country may be where the Gods live, filled with good things as I have told you, but it is also fraught with danger, inhabited by a ferocious people who will never spare you once they see you. They have mighty bows and lethal arrows and one of them will surely find its mark in you’. ‘Mother!’ he replied back, ‘You worry unnecessarily! I am strong and able-bodied, sharp of hearing and swift of foot. You yourself have said so. I will never allow any Khasi arrow to outrun me’. His mother tried to hold him back but he would not listen. ‘I’ll be gone for just a few months, mother’, he said, ‘I promise I’ll be back soon’. With those words, he trotted off.

His mother tried to stop him saying, ‘No, no, son, ‘don’t go to the Khasi land, the land of the strangers. Danger lurks everywhere. You will not know what can happen to you. Please come back, my darling son, come back! We’ll survive on the khah and nor rather than face death’. But the persuasion and warning was to no avail as it had fallen on deaf ears. U Sier Lapalang had already sauntered off to the hills. Poor mother deer! How she anguished over her son’s absence! For days she worried over him, neither eating nor drinking nor sleeping. Days turned into weeks and weeks into months and still, her son didn’t return. Her heart was heavy with sadness and worry and her health was also deteriorating. At last, she decided to journey to the Khasi hills in search of her son. Meanwhile, U Sier Lapalang was thoroughly enjoying his new-found freedom and the variety of food on the hills, so much so that he forgot his promise to his mother. From the southern slopes, he ventured up and up north till he reached the peaks of Shillong. There he found his favourite ‘jangew-jathang’ growing plentifully. He grazed away to his heart’s content, unaware that he was noticed by some herdsmen.

Word soon spread about the presence of the Sier – the stag – and people came swarming to where he grazed, armed with bows and arrows, swords and javelins. The ancient Khasis were warriors that were quite adept in archery and swordplay. They were excellent marksmen with their longbows. Their ‘nampliang’ – arrows with barbed arrowheads – are lethal once they hit their target, which they seldom miss. In no time, people started hunting U Lapalang down. He tried to escape, relying upon his swift feet but he soon discovered that the humans were cleverer. They had hemmed on him from four directions, pincer-style, and so whichever way he turned they were waiting for him. He was trapped! Exhausted, he slumped to the ground to catch his breath. But that was the moment he became a soft target for a deadly nampliang. As he saw archer coming his way he rose but an archer released his arrow that flew with deadly precision, straight through his great chest into his heart. He fell, crying out his mother’s name, recalling her anguished cry at his departure. Then the great Lapalang breathed his last.

Around the same time, the mother deer had reached the slopes of the Shillong mountain ranges after moving about for several days through hills and vales, dales and glens, scouring the nooks and crags, raising her head to the wind in case she could get a whiff of his scent. She climbed atop a hillock to get a better view around when suddenly she heard a commotion in the valley below. She raised her head and saw a crowd shouting and rejoicing, carrying a limp animal body tied and slung over a bamboo pole, carried by people. It was the body of her beloved son, U Sier Lapalang. Numb with deep sorrow, she dropped to the ground. Heaven and earth had closed in on her, it seemed. The hapless mother then let out a long, heart-rending cry. So mournful was her song of grief that even the trees and the stones wept along with her. Unmindful of the danger surrounding her, the old mother stag heaved herself up and rushed towards the human habitation, chanting her dirge of grief:

Wow! la shet ka ‘tieh pongdeng, Ia ka rynnieng u kynrem reng,
Wow! la kjit u ‘namsarang, Ia ka mynsiem u Lapalang.
(O! The tightly drawn bow has had its revenge,
On the noble stature of the antlered stag
O! The rusted arrow has sucked the soul out of U Lapalang.)

Ko Lapalang! Phrangsngi jongnga, Kumba tyngshain u Mankara,
Khlem sngap ki ktien sangsot i mei, Me shem lanot ha ka pyrthei.
(‘Oh, Lapalang! My firstborn, my darling son, Shining like the Mangkara,
You listened not to a mother’s words of woe;
Now, this world has struck on you a cruel blow!)

Nga ong ko khun ynnai leit kiew, Sha ri khasi sha ri ki briew
Ngin shong ha la ri them ri thor, Ngin bam d’u khah ngin bam d’u nor.
(I told you, son, not to venture out, To the Khasi land, the alien shore,
We’ll stay and live in our native plains, We’ll eat our humble khah and nor)

Me ong men wad jangew kynthong, Men leit ban mad jathang oh-shrong
Ia nga mynta ka kmie marwei, La dum ka bneng, khyndew, pyrthei.
(You said you’ll search the jangew bush, You’ll taste the serrated jathang leaf,
But for me, your lonely mother, My sky has darkened, my earth filled with grief.)

Bynriew u ieng la ksaw la ksong, U iarisa ha rngi Shillong,
Ia nga ko khun phrangsngi i Mei, La jah burom ha ka pyrthei!
(The humans celebrate their victory, In jubilee on Shillong’s slopes,
But I, beloved firstborn of mine, Have lost all glory under the sun!)

As she finished her song, the mother stag collapsed on the ground. Her poor, loving heart gave way. She too died and left this cruel world forever, and joined her beloved Lapalang in the other world. The people’s jubilation turned into deep sorrow. Never have they seen such love of a mother before and never have they heard such soulful mourning. So heart-rending was the old stag’s song that not a soul among the crowd was left with dried eyes. And so, from that day onwards, whenever there was mourning, the mourners would pour out in song words of deep sorrow that touch hearts just like the stag mourned for her beloved Lapalang.

(The Author is a retired Sr. Asst. General Manager of Air India. He can be reached on philip(dot)lyngdoh@gmail(dot)com. Story narrated is from his personal knowledge)

the original link:

A few paragraph breaks added to assist readability. ---mudelf

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