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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"


THE ARMENIAN WOMEN

THE following extract from an Armenian classic will give some idea of the poetical prose of the Armenians. Eghiche, an Armenian bishop and historian of the fifth century, writing nine hundred years before Chaucer, gives a graphic account of the Persian invasion of 451 A. D., of which he was an eye-witness. In the eighth chapter he speaks as follows of the fortitude shown by the Armenian women after the princes and nobles had been killed or carried away into captivity, and the country reduced almost to a desert: —

“But I cannot enumerate all the wives of the heroes, both of those who were in fetters, and those who had fallen in battle; for there are more whom I do not know than those whom I know. I know by name and by sight about five hundred; not only those who were the highest in rank, but many of low degree. All of them together, being kindled by a holy emulation, put on the same virtue of fidelity. They forgot even the name of the luxury belonging to their hereditary freedom, and became like men who have suffered from, the beginning after the manner of peasants, and who, have passed their lives in this world amid hardships. The elder ones took upon themselves the greater endurance. They were comforted by the invisible force of the eternal hope, and accepted the heavy burden of bodily pain. For although each of them had had hereditary servants, there was now nothing to distinguish between mistress and maid. All wore the same dress, and all alike slept on the ground. Neither one made the other’s bed. There was no distinction even in their food. All the mattresses were of the same dark color, and all the pillows were alike black. They had no special makers of spiced dishes, nor bread-makers set apart for service at table, but everything was in common. None poured water on the other’s hands, neither did the younger ones offer towels to the elder. The delicate women had no soap, nor was oil offered to them for, rejoicing. No costly platter was set before them, neither were cup-holders found at their festivals. For none of them did an usher stand at the door, neither were the nobles called by them.

“The bridal chambers of the young brides became dusty and dim, and spiders’ webs were spun in their sleeping-rooms. The high seats of their palaces were destroyed, and the vessels of their table service were in disorder. Their palaces fell, and the fortresses of their refuge crashed down in ruin; their flower-gardens dried up and withered, and the wine-bearing vines of their vineyards were torn up. With their eyes they saw the spoiling of their goods, and with their ears they heard of the sufferings of their dear ones. Their treasures were confiscated, and nothing at all was left of the ornaments of their faces.

“ The delicately reared women of the land of Armenia, who had been brought up in luxury and petted in costly clothing and on soft couches, went untiringly to the houses of prayer, on foot and bare-footed, asking with vows that they might be enabled to endure their great affliction. Those who from childhood had been reared on oxen’s brains and the choicest pieces of deer, now were glad to eat vegetable food, like savages. The skins of their bodies, blackening, became dark, because by day they were sun-burned, and all night they slept on the ground. The everlasting psalms were the murmurs of their lips, and their complete comfort was in the reading of the prophets.

“ The women paired off two by two, like the animals, as equal and harmonious, drawing straight the furrow of the kingdom, that they might reach the harbor of peace without fail. They forgot their womanly weakness, and became brave males in the spiritual warfare. Doing battle, they fought against the cardinal sins; they pulled up and threw away their deadly roots. With simplicity they conquered guilefulness, and with sacred love they washed away the dark coloring of envy. They cut off the roots of avarice, and the death-bearing fruits of its branches dried up. With humility they trampled upon arrogance, and with the same humility they reached the heavenly height. With prayers they opened the closed doors of heaven, and with holy petitions caused the angels of redemption to descend. They heard the good tidings from afar, and glorified God in the highest.

“The widows among them became again as virtuous brides, and put away from them the reproach of widowhood. And the wives of those who were in fetters willingly restrained the physical appetites, and became partakers of the sufferings of the imprisoned saints. In their lives they resembled the brave martyrs in their deaths, and from a distance they became teachers of consolation to the prisoners. With their fingers they worked and were fed, and the pensions granted them by the court they sent year by year to their husbands, for their comfort. They became like the bloodless cricket, which lives without food, by the sweetness of its song.

“The snows of many winters melted, the spring arrived, the new birds came, life-loving men saw and rejoiced ; but they could never see those for whom they longed. The spring flowers reminded them of their loving husbands, and their eyes longed in vain to see the desirable beauty of their faces. Their hounds died, and their hunting excursions were ended. No yearly festivals brought them from afar. The women looked on their dining-places and wept; and they remembered them in all their assemblies. Many monuments were raised to them, and the names of each inscribed thereon.

“ But while thus upon all sides their minds were storm-beaten, the women did not retreat, nor weaken in heavenly virtue. To outsiders they appeared mourning and sorrowful widows, but in their own souls they were adorned with heavenly love. They ceased to ask any one who had come from a distance, “ When shall we see our dear ones?” The desires of their prayers to God were only that they might finish their course with courage, filled with heavenly love, even as they had begun.

“And may we and they inherit together the Mother City of goodness (the heavenly Jerusalem) and those things which are promised to the beloved of God in Christ Jesus Our Lord! Amen.”

 

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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