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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"


MUGURDITCH CHRIMIAN HAIRIG is the grandest figure in modern Armenian history. He has been compared to Lincoln. Beginning in poverty, and possessing little education, he rose to the highest place through his native greatness of mind and heart. Born in Van in 1820, he married early, but was soon left a widower. He took holy orders, and devoted himself ardently to the cause of education, founding schools, training teachers, setting up in Van the first printing press in Armenia, publishing a magazine, and spreading enlightenment by every means. He was a strong advocate of education for girls, and in one of his books, “The Family of Paradise,” he argues against the prevailing Oriental idea that husbands have a right to rule over their wives by force. All his views were progressive. His pupils went out through the country, spreading light. He protested courageously against the oppression and robbery practised on the Armenians. After the Turco-Russian war, in 1878, he was chosen a delegate, with three others, to plead the cause of the Armenians before the Congress of Berlin. His activities for his people’s welfare caused him to be exiled for a time to Jerusalem. He rose from one ecclesiastical dignity to another, became Patriarch of Constantinople, and was finally elected Catholicos of all the Armenians. He was deeply loved and venerated for his wisdom and saintliness. He died in 1907, universally mourned. The affectionate surname of “Hairig” (Little Father) was given him by the people.

1. Murmurs of a Patriot
2. The Memorial of the Lamenting Soldier
3. Garine


1. MURMURS OF A PATRIOT.

The following poem is dedicated “To brave Vartan and his fellow soldiers, in memory of the celebration of the Holy Martyrs.” It commemorates those who fell in the battle of Avarair.

GOD-kindled soul, brave general of the host
Made strong by Christ! New Judas Maccabeus,
Chief conqueror, giving courage for the fight,
Victorious alike in life and death!
Bold champion against the Persian faith!
For love of true religion’s sacred name
And of the freedom of the fatherland,
(O greatest love!) you did not spare yourself;
You perished, and Armenia arose,
Vartan Mamigonian!

O cross-clad warrior, spurring your white steed,
Say, whither are you going in such haste?
The fellow soldier of brave Vartan I,
His fellow soldier of the self-same blood.
To reach the field of Ardaz forth I go;
And with the cross’s arms, like butting horns,
The herds of the black goats I there shall crush.
Go, go, your sword turned toward the enemy,
Khorene Khorkhorooni!

Love-kindled soul, made wise by heavenly lore!
Against the Persian worshipers of fire
Wisely you fought. You sacrificed yourself;
You left this world; in heaven is your reward.
Yea, with great wisdom that exchange was made,
Wise Humayag!

Most choice foundation rock for Ararat,
The builded of the Lord, our Mother Zion!
Broken from the top of Massis,* you rolled down
To Ardaz; there you smote and you destroyed
The false fire-altars of the Magian faith.
Higher the glory of the cross arose,
Satan our enemy was overcome,
Wondrous Dajad!

Who, mounted on his black, swift-flying steed,
With blazing eyes, looks neither left nor right,
And goes to battle with an eager heart?
He knows that holy is the fatherland,
It is a duty high to die for it.
Go swiftly, swiftly go! I love your soul.
That vow is sacred. Give your light and life—
The light and life your country gave to you.
A death like that is immortality,
Which evil men of this world do not know,
Ardag Balooni!

O scion of a valiant race! I love
Your stature like a plane-tree, that has raised
Your head toward heaven. ’Twas God that made you grow.
Give, do not spare that stature, nor your life,
For church and nation; sow that ready seed,
And water it with red blood from your veins,
That it may grow into a lily fair,
O Nerses, hero wonderfully built!

Angelic youth, graceful and beautiful,
Who came from Knooni’s garden full of flowers!
God planted you, blind Hazgerd** plucked you up;
Yet living still and blooming you remain.
O what a youthful sacrifice you gave,
Of your free will, for your dear country’s sake!
You, a new Sahag, nurtured tenderly,
You, of the house of good St. Gregory
Our father, like a lamb were sacrificed,
Delicate Vahan!

___________________
* Massis is the Armenian name of Mt. Ararat.
** The Persian King.
___________________

Your heart full-armed with holy zeal, to take
Vengeance for faith and fatherland, the field
Of Avarair you entered, spoiled and slew
The sons of gloomy Oromisda; seeking
To light up the fire-altars, and put out
Father St. Gregory’s bright-shining lamp.
Your blood put out the altars false of fire
And lighted up Armenia’s burning torch,
Amiable Arsen!

Yonder before grim Hazgerd’s judgment seat,
Or here upon the field of Ardaz, aye
Forward in word, in answer, and with blade;
An ardent lover of the spotless faith
Of Jesus, and your country’s liberty;
With two dear kinsmen clasped in fond embrace,
Sweetly you fell asleep. That sleep is sweet.
Let your tired arms a little while repose.
The flowers of Shavarshan, your monument,
Upon your grave, spread shade above your head,
O forward Karekin!

Free nobles of the royal family,
Two eagles winged by love, from Osdan’s hill
You, swiftly soaring, came to Avarair.
For what? Was it to hunt the unclean beasts,
The sons of Servan of the darkness born,
Tearing the flocks of sable crows to bits
With hooked claws? Bravely you fought; you smote
And you were smitten; at the last, you fell.
Nay, you are living still, and standing firm
Still, for the sake of the Armenian race,
O great Ardzrouni knights, Vahan, Sahag!

Be proud, O Gregory! Be lifted up!
Behold your lambs, who, having bravely fought
The apostate wolves, into the carnage sank.
From heaven above behold them, newly winged,
In flocks like doves, flying from earth to you!
Make broad your lap, give them a resting place;
Your sons are weary. Count them one by one.
One thousand martyrs they and thirty-six,
Whom the church sprung from you presents to heaven.

O God of Gregory, Nerses, Sahag!
God of our holy ancestors, behold
An all-devoted sacrifice for thee—
Such martyrs’ sacred blood! Receive it, Lord!
Remember, Lord! Have mercy, Lord, and visit
The holy Vartan’s suffering fatherland!

2. MEMORIAL OF THE LAMENTING SOLDIER.

OH, not for me will be a grave
With cross-marked stone to view!
I die upon the field of death;
My name will perish too.

And not for me a splendid bier,
Or burial’s pageant vain,
Or family to mourn for me,
Or friends for funeral train.

My tomb, which my own hands have dug,
Will be a trench profound;
The graves of thousands of the dead
With mine will make a mound.

Then strip me of my uniform,
My arms and honors proud,
And leave me but my blood-stained shirt
To serve me for a shroud.

A soldier’s corpse is valued not;
Within a trench to lie
’Tis cast, as on the threshing floor
The sheaves are piled on high.

We from the battle-field set out,
And we have reached our rest.
Tired soldiers of the field of blood,
Sleep with untroubled breast!

At Gabriel’s trump, our mound shall stir,
And as in fresher guise
Eagles their plumage strong renew,
We to new life shall rise.

Christ comes as judge, and all earth’s thrones
Before God’s bar are set.
The judgment of the field of blood
Just God will not forget.

Ye living soldiers, fare ye well!
I leave this world. I bore
The sword, and perished by the sword,
As Christ foretold of yore.

A farmer God created man,
The soil to dress and till;
Curst be the hand whose wicked art
Has taught him blood to spill!

Wise men predict a golden age
When peace o’er earth shall breathe,
When kings shall all be reconciled,
And swear the sword to sheathe.

The lion shall gentle grow, the wolf
Browse by the lamb in peace,
The fields of blood with lilies bloom,
And all earth’s conflicts cease.

A dream! I do not credit it.
Christ’s words come back to me,
That nation shall ’gainst nation rise,
Earth be a bloody sea.

O Jesus, Saviour bringing peace!
Our world you came and saw.
Men are insane; they have not yet
Mastered your gospel’s law.

Angel of love incarnated!
You said all men that live
Are brethren; give to us your peace,
Which this world cannot give!

3. GARINE.

THE dismal news ran through the land of Moush:
“Here comes the Khan Long Timour, fierce and fell,
The despot grim who devastates the world,
And who across the earth from east to west
Has marched, and measured it with his lame feet.”

This heard the great Amira* of Sassoun,
And shook with fear. The crafty tyrant then
A lesson learned from Satan. He cried out,
“Oho! Oho!” His heart swelled high with pride.
He said, “I have found Out the way, the means.

___________________
* A title equivalent to Lord.
___________________

“Lo, all the people of the land of Moush
I will expel, and drive them to Sassoun;
All empty that rich country will I leave;
Nor man, nor cat, nor dog shall there remain.
Then when Long Timour comes into our land,
He will behold the country desolate,
Village and town deserted of their folk;
And, struck with shame, he will turn back again.”

He spake, and gave command that it be done.
The wild tribes of the mountains of Sassoun
Gathered like black clouds when a storm is nigh,
They flocked together like a locust swarm,
And all came down upon the land of Moush.

Terror and panic then possessed Daron;
Moush was surrounded by a darksome fog.
The mother then disowned her infant child,
The groom forgot his bride; all tenantless
Their habitations populous they left,
And toward the vales and mountains fled away.

Who was that heroine with a manly soul?
’Twas brave Garine of the land of Moush.
Her spouse was dead; she had an eight years’ child,
Her only and her well beloved son.

Garine was a dame of noble blood,
A scion of the house of Mamigon,
Stately and tall, in form a giantess.
Her brilliant eyes, like jewels, shone with light;
Her face was serious and inspired respect;
Her arms were mighty, full of strength and power.
Not crafty she, like Judith in old time;
She acted openly, with fearless heart.

Thinking to shun the close-impending ill,
She girt about her waist her father’s sword,
Inherited from aged Mooshekh’s hand;
She to her shoulder swung the shield of steel;
A brave and glorious soldier she became.
She took the little Mooshekh, her dear son,
Called on the name of God, and took the road.

As she went forward free and fearlessly,
Lo, wicked men pursued her. Once she turned
And strewed upon the ground that evil crew;
But in the distance when her eyes beheld
A host of brutal Koords that followed still,
She cried aloud: “Thouknowest, O my God!
I am a mother loving well my son;
But now my Christian faith and love for Thee
Conquer the mother love within my breast;
I will forget parental tenderness,
The natural love that warms a mother’s heart,
And I to Thee will sacrifice my son.
Once Thou didst hold the arm of Abraham
Lest he should sacrifice his only son.
But do not Thou hold back mine arm, O Lord!
Here let me sacrifice my youthful lamb.”

She spoke, and drew her sword, and on the spot
Mooshekh, her little son, she straightway slew.
As, when we slay a fowl, it flutters wild,
So little Mooshekh at his mother’s feet
Fluttered and died. The little dove’s pure soul
Fled forth and joined the flock of spirits bright.

“Oh!” then said brave Garine, “I have saved
His soul and faith. I from the Book have learned
It is the spirit that alone gives life;
The flesh is empty, void, and nothing worth.”

Thus brave Garine made her sacrifice;
And the barbarians saw the deed she did,
And they were struck with terror and amaze,
And where they stood they halted, stupefied.
But brave Garine then set forth again,
And as an eagle soars she darted up
Unto the summit of a lofty rock.
One side of it was sheer, a precipice
So deep his brain must reel who looked below.

Garine there upon the rock knelt down,
And upward turned her eyes to heaven’s height,
And murmured from the bottom of her heart:
“Ah, do not count it as a sin, my Lord!
Garine shed the blood of her young son.
Thou knowest, Lord, knowing the hearts of all,
My sacred faith ancestral I have served
Since baptism: my virtue I have kept,
Which is Thy gift, a grace received from Thee.
Mother Shamoone I remember well—
An orphan-loving, faithful woman she.
She gave her seven sons a sacrifice,
And thus defended she her holy faith.
Thou knowest, Lord, my sacrifice is small;
Greater by far was Thine upon the cross!
Oh, give thy servant strength to sacrifice
Her life for Thee! Not from despondency
A suicide, but as a volunteer,
A victim to my love for Thee, I come!”

These were the words that brave Garine spoke.
On her bright face she signed the sacred cross,
And down that deep and dreadful precipice
She threw herself, unshrinking, to the ground.
Her body was in pieces dashed; her soul
Fled, and ascended to the heights of heaven.

The Angel oped to her the heavenly gates.
Garine entered to the realm of light,
And there she found again her little dove,
And soul was joined with soul in that bright realm;
The mother was made happy with her son.

Armenian mothers, take example hence!
Whenever you shall read these lines of mine,
The lines that aged Hairig here has penned,
Be mindful of Garine, who, to keep
Her virtue and her pure God-given faith,
Unto destruction gave her mortal frame,
And won the heavenly kingdom by the deed.
Forever blessed be her memory!

 

See also:

Chrimian Hairig's biography (also in Armenian )
Loving father to all generations by Ruth Bedevian
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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