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Alice Stone Blackwell

ARMENIAN POEMS


Contents | Table of contents [as in the book] | Preface | Introduction

Bedros Tourian | Michael Nalbandian | Abp. Khorène Nar Bey De Lusignan
Mugurditch Beshiktashlian | Raphael Patkanian | Leo Alishan | St. Gregory of Narek
Nerses the Graceful | Saïat Nova | Djivan | Raffi | Koutcharian | Terzyan | Totochian
Damadian | Atom Yarjanian (Siamanto) | Daniel Varoujan | Archag Tchobanian
Hovhannes Toumanian | Hovhannes Hovhannessian | Zabel Assatour (Madame Sybil)
Mugurditch Chrimian Hairig | M. Portoukalian | Mihran Damadian
Arshag D. Mahdesian | Nahabed Koutchak | Shoushanig Khourghinian
Avedik Issahakian | Avedis Aharonian | Karekin Servantzdiantz | Bedros Adamian
Tigrane Yergate | Khorène M. Antreassian | Djivan | Miscellaneous songs and poems

APPENDIX: The Armenian Women | The Armenian Church
Bibliography | Comments on the first edition of "Armenian Poems"


MISCELLANEOUS SONGS AND POEMS

1. The Prisoner to the Swallow
2. Homesickness
3. The Prisoner's Dream
4. The Mother Is Like Bread
5. Parting Song
6. The Wanderer
7. The Mother's Lament
8. The Dead Wife to Her Husband
9. The Sister's Lament
10. Song of the Emigrant's Wife
11. The Orphan's Lullaby
12. A Knock at the Door
13. The Song of the Goat
14. The Dark Damsels
15. Playmates
16. Cradle Song
17. Lullaby
18. Hushaby
19. Sad Snow

 

1. THE PRISONER TO THE SWALLOW

O STRAYED and wandering swallow, little bird,
How sadly by my prison dost thou sing!
Dost thou lament because thy lovely mate
Has left thee, and naught else can comfort bring?

Grieve, then, like me! Yet thou art fortunate,
Thrice fortunate, for thou canst fly afar,
Flit through the valleys and across the hills
On thy swift wings, unstayed by bolt or bar.

But here the sun itself with pallid ray
To my dark prison cannot penetrate;
No gentle breeze blows here to bear my voice
Unto my dear ones, telling of my fate.

At least thou goest to find my well beloved.
Oh, swiftly dart! But then return once more
Near me, the wretched one, and tarry here,
O swallow, tarry till this night be o’er.

Stay here to-night and witness my sad death,
And, twittering o’er my grave with dew-drops wet,
Do thou, at least, O bird, remember me—
Remember me, and mourn, and ne’er forget!

 

2. HOMESICKNESS

WAS a quince-bush growing on a rock,
A rocky cliff that rose above the dell;
They have uprooted and transplanted me
Unto a stranger’s orchard, there to dwell;

And in this orchard they have watered me
With sugar-water, that full sweetly flows.
O brothers, bear me back to my own soil,
And water me with water of the snows!

 

3. THE PRISONER’S DREAM

I AM a bird, a small wild bird,
In freedom wont to dwell;
But men have caught and caged me up
Within this narrow cell.

From my companions parted now,
My heart is sad and sore
Because I mingle with the flock
No more, alas! no more.

If they should bring to sing to me,
Here where I pine apart,
The nightingale and turtledove,
It would not cheer my heart;

Nor if they brought me as a gift
A thousand feathers fair
Of every hue, nor richest wine,
Nor candies sweet and rare;

Nor if they gave me power to sway
Vast kingdoms at my word,
Or made me of a myriad men
The master and the lord;

Or gave me servants in a crowd,
And countless horsemen bold,
Or built for me a palace fair,
Adorned with gems and gold.

But could I from this cell escape
In which my life they lock,
And fly away, and soar toward heaven,
And see again my flock,

And mingle with it, sporting wild,
Singing with gladsome voice,
My heart, that aches with loneliness,
Would ’mid the flock rejoice.

 

4. THE MOTHER IS LIKE BREAD

THE mother is like warm bread; he who eats of it feels satisfied.
The father is like pure wine; he who drinks of it feels intoxicated.
The brother is like the sun, which lights up the mountains and the valleys.

 

5. PARTING SONG
Sung as the bride leaves her home.

THE CHORUS:
THE evening wind has risen,
The chief men have gathered.
May I be a sacrifice for thy soul which goes into exile!
The strings of the purse have been unloosed,
The daughter has been parted from her mother.
The avalanche is coming down from Dilif,
It is carrying away our little moon!
The foot is in the stirrup;
The mother weeps to see her go.

THE BRIDE:
I do not want to go, mamma! I do not want to go!
They are taking me by force!
Do thou, little mother, wish that it may bring me good luck,
The milk that thou hast given me, that it may bring me good fortune!
Do thou, little father, wish that it may bring me good luck,
The bread that thou hast earned for me, that it may bring me good fortune!
Do not groan, threshold of my home;

It is for me to groan.
Do not creep, O sun!
It is for me to creep.
Do not shake, little tree!
It is for me to shake.
Do not fall, O leaf!
It is for me to fall.
Do not shine, O star!
It is for me to shine.
Do not rise, O moon!
It is for me to rise.
Do not weep, mamma!
It is for me to weep.

 

6. THE WANDERER

OH, heavy hearted is the wanderer
In foreign lands, who hath his country left!
In gazing on the fever of his heart,
Even the rocks with sorrow would be cleft.

When you on any man would call a curse,
Say, “Be a wanderer from your native land!
And may your pillow be the mountain side,
And may you sleep at night upon the sand!

“And, when you think upon your fatherland,
May you from head to foot be full of pains!”
My heart is a cracked vase; in vain I pour
Water therein; unfilled it still remains.

Each bird of heaven hath its companion found,
I am alone and solitary still;
Each stone is fixed and quiet in its place;
I roll forevermore by vale and hill.

 

7. THE MOTHER’S LAMENT

I LOOK and weep, I, this child’s mother. I say, “Alas for me! What will become of me now, unhappy that I am? I have seen my golden son dead!”

The fragrant rose has been snatched from my bosom; my soul faints within me! My beautiful golden dove has been made to take flight from my arms; my heart is broken!

My pretty, softly-cooing turtle-dove, death’s falcon has struck it, and has wounded me. My sweet-voiced little lark has been taken from me and carried away to heaven.

My verdant pomegranate tree, all covered with flowers, the hailstorm has destroyed it before mine eyes—the reddening apple upon my tree, the fragrant fruit among my leaves!

My beautiful almond tree all in blossom, they have shaken it and left it without a fruit; they have seized it and thrown it to earth, and trampled the ground where it lies.

Oh, what will become of me, unhappy that I am! Many griefs have come upon me. At least, O God, receive the soul of my child, and let it rest in thy bright heaven!

 

8. THE DEAD WIFE TO HER HUSBAND

I AM going to turn into an eagle. I shall go and perch before thy window; I shall lament so bitterly that sleep will flee away from thee forever. Anyone else may sleep; but thou and I, henceforth, shall know sleep no more!

 

9. THE SISTER’S LAMENT

THE brother is the artery of his sister’s heart.
He has only to speak one gentle word to make I her happy.
Come, my brother! Come, water of my fountain!
I am athirst for thee; whither hast thou gone?
Thou hast left me in the shadow; make light spring forth!
The wall of my love has crumbled; come and rebuild it!

 

10. SONG OF THE EMIGRANT’S WIFE

THE road on which my absent husband passes, I wish I were that road! The water-course where he goes to drink, I wish I were the spring of that water! He would have stooped to drink of that water, and the wish of my heart would be fulfilled.
In the city where he alights, I wish I were the inn-keeper, so that he would come and alight at my inn! I would take him to my best room, I would twine my arms about his neck, and talk with him sweetly.

 

11. THE ORPHAN’S LULLABY

SAHAG is on the mountain,
Thy father ’neath the stone;
The reeds thy cradle are, thy roof
The arching rock alone.

Oh, may the south wind rock thee,
Beneath the midnight sky,
And may the little stars of heaven
Sing thee a lullaby!

And may the wild ewe nourish thee
Upon her milk so white,
That thou may’st bud, that thou may’st bloom,
And grow in strength and height!

Oh, hushaby, my darling!
Lilies on thy pink face!
Sleep, child, and may the wind that sings
Blow o’er thy cradle-place!

Oh, may the wild ewe suckle thee,
And be thy nurse the sun!
May the moon sing thy cradle song!
Sleep, sleep, my little one!

 

12. A KNOCK AT THE DOOR

THE wind that from the lofty summits blew
Knocked at the door; the young wife rose and ran,
In haste, with eager steps and beating heart,
To fling it wide. Alas, ’twas not her man!

With breaking heart she to the hearth returned.
Her husband’s mother spoke, to comfort fain:
“Daughter-in-law, my little daughter, say,
Why dost thou weep? Tell me, where lies thy pain?”

“Mother, my little mother! Everywhere
I am in pain, so for thy son I yearn.”
“Weep not, my little daughter! To my son
A letter I will write, and say, ‘Return’ ! ”

“If to thy son thou writest to return,
May’st thou enjoy the light of God’s bright throne!
But, if thou dost not write him to return,
Receive my curse, and turn into a stone!”

 

13. THE SONG OF THE GOAT

THE goat went to play on the ice. She fell and broke her foot. She said: “Ice, then you are very strong?”
“If I were very strong,” said the ice, “the sun would not have thawed me.”
She went to the sun and said, “Sun, then you are very strong?”
“If I were very strong,” said the sun, “the cloud would not have covered me.”
“Cloud,” said she, “then you are very strong?”
“If I were very strong, the wind would not have scattered me.”
“Wind,” she said, “then you are very strong?”
“If I were very strong, I should not have been able to glide through the chink in the wall.”
“ Chink in the wall, then you are very strong?”
“If I were very strong, the mouse would not have reigned over me.”
“Mouse,” she said, “then you are very strong?”
“If I were very strong, the cat would not have caught me.”
“ Cat,” said she, “then you are very strong?”
The cat said, shaking his tail, “I am strong, I am strong, I am the chief of the strong! I am the fur of great lords; I am the head-dress of great ladies. In the village in summer, and by the fireside in winter, I sleep a sweet sleep. If anyone says, ‘Scat!’ I scud away, I go and sit in the top of a tree.”

 

14. THE DARK DAMSELS

A SPRING on Mount Menzour flows out under the long-haired willow tree. Two beautiful dark damsels have come to fill their pitchers. Two young men, as strong as athletes, are passing by on horseback.

“Young girl, by the youth of thy brother, give me a drop of water from thy pitcher!”

“The water in my pitcher is not cold, it is hot. More men than one have died because they loved us.”

“Pour me a drop, let me drink, and let me die also, and let it be with me as if my mother had never given me birth!”

 

15. PLAYMATES

O BABY, in your little bed
How beautiful you are!
Whom shall I bring to play with you,
Searching both near and far?
For playmates I will bring to you
The moon and morning star!

 

16. CRADLE SONG

THE nightingale, for love of the rose, cannot sleep the whole night long. He cannot sleep during the night, nor during the day until the evening. Go to bed, and sleep sweetly, until the morning light comes, until the good light comes! Then my nightingale will wake again, my nightingale will wake again, with eyes half open and half closed.

 

17. LULLABY

I SING the cradle song so that when you hear it, you may lie down and fall sweetly asleep. Go to sleep, my child, and grow—grow and become a great man; spread out and become a village! In the village where there is no great man, become the great man of that village. Become a great forest, burying your roots deep in the earth; plunge your roots down into the very depths of the earth, and may your trees with their branches cast their shadow everywhere!

 

18. HUSHABY

HUSHABY, hushaby! The does have come. They have come, the does, they have come down from the mountains. They have brought thee sweet sleep, they have poured it into thine eyes, as large as seas; they have put thee to sleep with a sweet slumber; they have satisfied thee with their sweet milk.

Hushaby, hushaby! May the Lord give thee sleep! May Mother Mary grant thee peace; may Mother Mary grant thee peace so that thou mayest lie down and fall softly asleep! Of Mother Mary we will make thy mother, and of her only son thy protector. I will go to church to beg the saints to pay for us. Of the holy crucifix I will make a brother, that it may keep its arms stretched out over us forever.

 

19. SAD SNOW

WHAT art thou, O thou light and fleecy snow?
A flower, a coverlet, a winding sheet?
That o’er Armenia’s plains thou spreadest far,
Unfolded white and wide, the sky to meet?

Or art thou a white dove from Paradise,
That, when it saw the Holy Virgin there,
Shook down the snowy feathers from its wings
To form a scarf upon her shoulders bare?

Or cam’st thou from the angels up above,
Who sometimes seek their future fate to know,
Playing on high, “To die or not to die?”*
With roses white, whose petals drift below?

Or art thou downy cotton or soft wool
That the north wind upon Armenia sheds,
A pure and restful pillow to become
Beneath our martyred sires’ and brothers’ heads?

If ’tis a feathery scarf thou art, O snow!
Be swaddling bands and cradle soft as silk
To children small who perished at their birth,
Ere they had tasted of their mothers’ milk!

If thou art rose-leaves, pure and stainless snow,
Oh, then bud forth, a fresh and dewy wreath,
Upon the lowly and forsaken mounds
Where slim Armenian maidens sleep in death!

O mournful snow, fall thick and heavily
And cover mount and valley, rock and plain!
Cover the graves, that through the days to come
Unbroken their sweet slumber may remain!

Those martyrs for their nation and the cross,
Now and forever, silent and alone,
In hope of immortality in heaven,
Repose in death, with no memorial stone.

* The Armenians play, “To die or not to die?” with flower petals as we play, “He loves me, he loves me not.”

 

Contents | Table of contents [as in the book] | Preface | Introduction

Bedros Tourian | Michael Nalbandian | Abp. Khorène Nar Bey De Lusignan
Mugurditch Beshiktashlian | Raphael Patkanian | Leo Alishan | St. Gregory of Narek
Nerses the Graceful | Saïat Nova | Djivan | Raffi | Koutcharian | Terzyan | Totochian
Damadian | Atom Yarjanian (Siamanto) | Daniel Varoujan | Archag Tchobanian
Hovhannes Toumanian | Hovhannes Hovhannessian | Zabel Assatour (Madame Sybil)
Mugurditch Chrimian Hairig | M. Portoukalian | Mihran Damadian
Arshag D. Mahdesian | Nahabed Koutchak | Shoushanig Khourghinian
Avedik Issahakian | Avedis Aharonian | Karekin Servantzdiantz | Bedros Adamian
Tigrane Yergate | Khorène M. Antreassian | Djivan | Miscellaneous songs and poems

APPENDIX: The Armenian Women | The Armenian Church
Bibliography | Comments on the first edition of "Armenian Poems"

 

See also:

Biography of Alice Stone Blackwell
Russian poetry translated by Alice Stone Blackwell

Acknowledgements:

Source: Blackwell, Alice Stone. Armenian Poems, Rendered into English Verse. Boston, MA: Atlantic Printing Company, 1917
Provided by: Aram Arkun, Krikor and Clara Zohrab Information Center
Scanned by: Karen Vrtanesyan
OCR: Karen Vrtanesyan

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