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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"


ARCHBISHOP KHORENE NAR BEY DE LUSIGNAN was a descendant of the last dynasty of Armenian kings. Nar Bey studied at the celebrated convent of the Mechitarists in Venice, but early left the Roman Catholic for the Armenian Church. He became an Archbishop, and was elected Patriarch of Constantinople, but declined to serve. He. was an eloquent preacher, and a distinguished poet, author, and linguist. Nar Bey was a friend of Lamartine, whose poems he translated into Armenian. He was one of the Armenian delegates to the Berlin Congress of 1878. He died at Constantinople in 1892, poisoned, it was commonly believed, by the Turkish government, for political reasons.

1. Armenia
2. The Wandering Armenian to the Cloud
3. To My Sister
4. Gentle Breeze of Armenia
5. Let Us Live Armenians
6. Let Us Die Armenians
7. The First Green Leaves
8. Dawn
9. The Exile to the Swallow


1. ARMENIA

IF a sceptre of diamond, a glittering crown,
Were mine, at thy feet I would lay them both down,
Queen of queens, O Armenia!

If a mantle of purple were given to me,
A mantle for kings, I would wrap it round thee,
Poor Armenia, my mother!

If the fire of my youth and its sinews of steel
Could return, I would offer its rapture and zeal
All to thee, my Armenia!

Had a lifetime of ages been granted to me,
I had given it gladly and freely to thee,
O my life, my Armenia!

Were I offered the love of a maid lily-fair,
I would choose thee alone for my joy and my care,
My one love, my Armenia !

Were I given a crown of rich pearls, I should prize,
Far more than their beauty, one tear from thine eyes,
O my weeping Armenia !

If freedom unbounded were proffered to me,
I would choose still to share thy sublime slavery,
O my mother, Armenia!
Were I offered proud Europe, to take or refuse,
Thee alone, with thy griefs on thy head, would I choose
For my country, Armenia!

Might I choose from the world where my dwelling should be,
I would say, Still thy ruins are Eden to me,
My beloved Armenia!

Were I given a seraph’s celestial lyre,
I would sing with my soul, to its chords of pure fire,
Thy dear name, my Armenia !

2. THE WANDERING ARMENIAN TO THE CLOUD

CLOUD, whither dost thou haste away
So swiftly through the air?
Dost thou to some far-distant land
An urgent message bear?

With gloomy aspect, dark and sad,
Thou movest on through space ;
Dost thou hide vengeance, or has grief
O’ershadowed thy bright face ?

Did a wind come and exile thee
Far from thy heavenly home,
Like me, in homesickness and tears
Across the world to roam ?

Like me, who wander now, my griefs
Sole comrades, left to me,
While, longing for my fatherland,
I pine on land and sea ?

Cloud, when thy heart is full of tears
Thou hast relief in rain;
When indignation brims thy breast,
Fierce lightnings tell thy pain.

Though my heart too is full, my brow
With painful thoughts oppressed,
To whom can I pour forth the griefs
That fill an exile’s breast?

O cloud, thou hast no native land!
Far happier thou than I;
To north, to south thou floatest free,
At home in all the sky.

But I, at every step, shed tears,
In sadness and in gloom ;
Each step away from fatherland
Is nearer to my tomb !

3. TO MY SISTER

FAIN would I be to thee, my sister sweet,
Like the bright cloud beneath Aurora’s feet
A pedestal to help thee mount on high
Into the blessed peace of the blue sky.

The zephyr would I be, to which is given
To waft the rose’s fragrance up to heaven,
That thy pure soul, amid life’s stress and strain,
Might not exhale its perfume sweet in vain.

Fain would I be to thee as crystal dew
Of morn, that doth the young flower’s sap renew,
And with its vapor veils her from the sun,
Lest thy fresh heart be seared ere day is done.

Fain would I be to thee a nightingale,
Telling within, thine ear so sweet a tale ;
No meaner strain thine eyes with sleep should dim,
And thou shouldst wake to hear a sacred hymn.

Fain would I be to thee a broad-armed tree
That casts wide shadow on the sultry lea,
And cheers from far the wandering traveller’s view;
So would my love shed o’er thee shade and dew.

Fain would I be to thee a refuge sure,
As ’neath the thatch the swallow builds secure.
A humble roof, it yet the rain can ward ;
So I from storms thine innocence would guard.

Ah! when to thee this world, as yet unknown,
Its barren hopes, its bitterness hath shown,
Fain, fain would I bring comfort in that hour
To thy sad heart. Oh, would I had the power!

4. GENTLE BREEZE OF ARMENIA.

WHERE art thou, sweet and gentle breeze,
Breeze of my fatherland ?
The spring has come, and tender flowers
Bud forth on every hand;
The warm sun smiles upon the world,
The skies are soft and blue;
Ah, zephyr of Armenia,
Wilt thou not greet us too ?

My country’s stars I see no more
Beneath these alien skies,
And when the radiant spring returns,
The sad tears fill my eyes.
The sun for exiles has no light,
Though soft it shine and bland.
Where art thou, oh, where art thou,
Breeze of my fatherland ?

Where art thou, breeze of Ararat?
Our sad hearts long for thee,
For poplar trees of Armavir
That whisper pleasantly.
Spring in whose bosom shines no flower
Sprung from Armenian earth,
To the Armenian is not spring,
But winter’s cold and dearth.

Behold, all Nature calls on us,
With invitation glad,
To celebrate her victory
O’er Winter, dark and sad.
The ice has melted, and the flowers
Awaken and expand;
Where are you, breezes sweet and soft,
Airs of the fatherland ?

Out of long, gloomy winters,
The winters of the past,
Oh, blow for the Armenians,
And bring us spring at last!
Awake exalted memories
Of glorious deeds and grand !
Alas, hast thou forgotten us,
Breeze of the fatherland ?

Hast thou forgot our tearful eyes,
Our bleeding hearts that ache ?
Wilt thou not mingle in our griefs,
Lamenting for our sake ?
Why should our sad lyre sob in tears,
In bitter tears, like these,
And thou not come to thrill its chords,
O soft Armenian breeze ?

Oh, from our country’s ruins
Waft to us through the air ,
Dust of our glorious ancestors,
Whose bones are buried there !
Life-giving breeze, Armenian breeze
From distant Edens blown,
Oh, bring to us our fathers’ sighs,
To whisper with our own!

One token bring from home, one drop
From the Araxes’ shore!
Let tears and smiles with memories blend —
Thoughts of our sires of yore.
Kiss the Armenian’s brow and breast;
Wake patriot ardor bold!
Where art thou, O life-bringing breeze
Our sires inhaled of old?

Power to Armenian cymbals give,
And in our souls inspire
The zeal of Coghtn’s ancient bards,
Their fervor and their fire!
Imbue Armenian hearts afresh
With courage firm and true;
Ah, zephyr of Armenia,
Awake our hope anew!

5. LET US LIVE ARMENIANS

LIVE as Armenians, brethren, in this world!
That name to us do history’s pages give ;
The heavens above salute us by that name :
Then, brethren, as Armenians let us live !

Armenians we ! That hero was our sire
Who taught mankind for freedom first to strive ;*
He gave us for our portion a great name :
Then, brethren, as Armenians let us live !

Our land is holy; on its -sacred soil
God walked, what time he Adam forth did drive; **
Our language he devised; he spoke it first:
Then, brethren, as Armenians let us live !

We have one cradle with the human race;
Our land salvation to the world did give ;
Faith’s earliest altar was Mount Ararat:
Then, brethren, as Armenians let us live !

Noble our name is; not on earth alone,
But in the heavens it shines forth gloriously.
The stars of valiant Haig are deathless there :
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

Live as Armenians ! From the past what land
So many ancient glories doth derive ?
What nation has so beautiful a home ?
Then, brethren, as Armenians let us live !

Unto what nation did the King of heaven
Send four apostles as an embassy,***
And with what monarch did he correspond ?
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

Who can count o’er the names of all our saints ?
One roll of martyrs is our history ;
Our church on earth is like to heaven itself:
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

To us was Christ’s first benediction given ;
The champions of the faith for aye were we ;
Armenia’s deeds astonished earth and heaven :
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

Our nation, ever following the Lord.
Has borne the cross for many a century;
No, she will not be a deserter now !
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

Yes, sorrowful is life beneath the cross ;
Yes, as Armenians we with pain must strive;
Yet wears the cross the seal of victory :
Then, brethren, as Armenians let us live !

Our home beloved, our sceptre and our crown,
With clouds are covered in obscurity :
Have hope ! the heavens yet shall give us light:
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

No, not forever shall our fate be sad,
Our lot, to eat and drink of misery;
A new and happy future waits for us !
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be!

Live as Armenians, that our sons as well
May boast that they are our posterity;
Let us do no dishonor to our name !
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be!

Live as Armenians! Some day, over death
Armenia yet shall rise in victory.
Soon may that glad day dawn for us, O heaven !
Brethren, Armenians let us ever be !

___________________________
* According to tradition, at the time of the building of the tower of Babel, Haig, the ancestor of the Armenians, rebelled against the tyranny of the Assyrian king, and forsook the work with his tribe. The constellation Orion is called by his name in the Armenian language.
** Tradition locates the Garden of Eden in Armenia, between the Euphrates and Tigris: and the Armenians believe that their language was spoken by Adam and Eve.
*** The tradition is that Apgar, King of Armenia, sent messengers to Jesus, entreating him to come and cure the king of a painful malady, and offering to become a Christian. Jesus declined to come, but promised to send some of his apostles after his death who would cure the king. This was done; and Apgar and many of his subjects embraced Christianity.

___________________________

6. LET US DIE ARMENIANS

BROTHERS, we have no hope from foreigners ;
Gaze not around for aid! Though with good-will
The foreigner receive you as a guest,
He is an alien still.

Unmoved he sees your pain; what matters it
Although to tears of blood your heart be grieved ?
None save Armenians feel Armenia’s woes;
Why are you still deceived ?

Rest not upon the foreigner your hope ;
Show not hard eyes your wounds, your deep distress.
Do you then look for sympathy and help?
They mock your nakedness !

Heavy your burden is, but do you think
That foreign hands will lift it? You are wrong.
Nay, leave the foreigner, lend brother’s arm
To brother, and be strong !

Fate is your enemy ? Be not dismayed,
But show Armenian hearts, to brave her hate.
Fate cannot vanquish an heroic land
That battles against fate.

Nor swords nor chains could crush the minds and hearts
Of your great ancestors, those valiant ones.
Why are your hearts to-day so weak and faint ?
Are you not heroes’ sons?

Sons of those matchless heroes who of old
Upon their country’s altar bled and died, —
Sons of those great Armenians whose lives
To-day are the world’s pride ?

Even the mighty nations of the earth
With envy view our nation’s history;
Then why, forgetting your past glory, say
To aliens, “ Blest are ye ” ?

Forward ! Let him who has an earnest heart
Forsake the stranger, follow his brave sires !
The life of all Armenians centres round
Our faith’s clear altar-fires.

Armenia’s life shall not become extinct;
The heavens are full of that life-giving flame.
While the all-conquering cross of Christ shall reign,
So long shall live her name.

Why are you fearful ? See you not, sublime
Above your heads, the shadow of the rood ?
Of old your fathers with that sacred sign
Mingled their sacred blood.

Anchor your hope, too, on the cross! Have faith
The light will shine, since you to it are true.
It was your nation’s bulwark ; be it still
Weapon and flag to you !

A nation that was faithful to the cross
Cannot be lost, though centuries roll past.
While in this world religion shall endure,
Her life shall also last.

In the great names of faith and fatherland,
Clasp hands in love, bid hate and malice flee,
Armenian brothers ! Let the nation’s foe
Alone accursed be.

Let each heart glow with love for fatherland,
Each mind your country’s welfare seek alone ;
Let your least brother’s pain and tears be felt
As keenly as your own.

Ah! foreign bread can never nourish us,
And foreign water never quench our thirst;
Thou art our life, Armenian font, where we
Received baptism first !

For no vain hope let us deny that font,
Our nation’s baptistery ! When we yield
Our breath forever, be our place of death
The sacred battlefield!

Let the same earth receive that cradled us ;
Armenians we, when life to us was given ;
Armenians let us live, Armenians die,
Armenians enter heaven !

7. THE FIRST GREEN LEAVES

SCARCE are the clouds’ black shadows
Pierced by a gleam of light,
Scarce have our fields grown dark again,
Freed from the snow-drifts white,
When you, with smiles all twinkling,
Bud forth o’er hill and vale.
O first-born leaves of spring-time,
Hail to your beauty, hail!

Not yet to our cold meadows
Had come Spring’s guest, the swallow,
Not yet the nightingale’s sweet voice
Had echoed from the hollow,
When you, like joy’s bright angels,
Came swift to hill and dale.
Fresh-budded leaves of spring-time,
Hail to your beauty, hail!

Your tender verdant color,
Thin stems and graceful guise,
How sweetly do they quench the thirst
Of eager, longing eyes!
Afflicted souls at sight of you
Take comfort and grow gay.
New-budded leaves of spring-time,
All hail to you to-day!

Come, in the dark breast of our dales
To shine, the hills between !
Come, o’er our bare and shivering trees
To cast a veil of green !
Come, to give sad-faced Nature
An aspect blithe and new!
O earliest leaves of spring-time,
All hail, all hail to you !

Come to call up, for new-born Spring,
A dawn of roses fair !
Come, and invite the breezes light
To play with your soft hair !
Say to the fragrant blossoms,
“ Oh, haste ! Men long for you ! ”
Hail, earliest leaves of spring-time,
Young leaves so fresh and new!

Come, come, O leaves, and with sweet wings
Of hope from yonder sky
Cover the sad earth of the graves
Wherein our dear ones lie !
Weave o’er the bones so dear to us
A garland wet with dew,
Ye wings of hope’s bright angels,
Young leaves so fresh and new !


8. DAWN

ROSES upon roses
Spread in sheets below,
In the high blue ether
Clouds that shine like snow,
Lightly, brightly, softly,
Spread before thy feet,
In this tranquil season
Wait thy face to greet;
Waits in hope all nature,
O Aurora sweet!

Radiant, pure she rises,
In her veil of white,
With her floating tresses
Gleaming golden bright,
Spreading wide in ripples
By the zephyrs swayed,
And her pearly pinions
Opening, half displayed—
Gracious, fair Aurora,
The celestial maid.

On her brow bright jewels
Glow in loveliness,
And her joyous glances
Heaven and earth caress;
While her rose-lips, brighter
Than earth’s blooming bowers,
Smiling blithely, scatter
Perfume sweet in showers,
Making yet more fragrant
Many-colored flowers.

Now the small birds twitter
’Mid the leaves so green,
Blending with their rustle;
Hail, O Dawn serene!
Hail! Thou changest darkness
Into sunlight free,
The sad earth thou makest
Glad and full of glee.
All created beings
Cry “All hail!” to thee.

Unto thee each offers
Its first gift in love,
Tenderest gift and holiest;
Cloud that floats above,
Zephyr, crystal streamlet,
Flowers and nightingale—
All with love are melted,
Praise thee, bid thee hail,
Heavenly maiden, lovely
In thy shining veil!

Thou our hearts that charmest
Now with such delight,
Leave us not forsaken
In the grave’s dark night!
When our eyes are closing,
Let it beam and shine
Still before our souls’ eyes,
That sweet light of thine,
Full of hope and promise,
Dawn, thou maid divine!

9. THE EXILE TO THE SWALLOW

O SWALLOW, swallow, was it thine,
This nest, all cold and drear,
That empty in this niche I found
When first I entered here?
At sight of it mine eyes o’erflowed
With bitter teardrops, born
Of the sad thought that my nest too
Lies empty and forlorn.

O swallow, hasten to thy nest,
And have no fear of me!
In me a comrade thou shalt find;
A wanderer I, like thee.
I know the longing of thy heart,
The yearning for thy home;
I know the bitter pains of those
As exiles forced to roam.

Happy art thou, O bird, to find
Thy little nest at last!
The time of thy brief pilgrimage
Is over now and past.
Forget thy woes, chirp merrily!
Let grief be left to me,
Who know not of my wanderings
When there an end shall be.

Swallow, thou hadst the hope of spring,
To reach thy home nest here;
My winter ends not; spring I lost,
Losing my country dear.
Oh, dark to me this foreign light!
The air is dull and dead,
Bitter the water that I drink,
And like a stone my bread!

Swallow, when thou shalt seek again
This nest, to thee so dear,
Wilt thou still hear my trembling voice
Bidding thee welcome here?
If thou shalt find my humble cot
Empty and silent stand,
Bear to my grave a drop of dew
Brought from my fatherland!

 

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:

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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