- Armenian Literature, History, Religion in in Russian

Alice Stone Blackwell


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"

MICHAEL GHAZARIAN NALBANDIAN was born in Russian Armenia in 1830; graduated at the University of St. Petersburg with the title of Professor; was active as a teacher, author, and journalist; fell under suspicion for his political opinions, and underwent a rigorous imprisonment of three years, after which he was exiled to the province of Sarakov*, and died there in 1866 of lung disease contracted in prison. It is forbidden in Russia to possess a picture of Nalbandian ; but portraits of him, with his poem on “Liberty” printed around the margin, are circulated secretly.

[* The correct spelling is “Saratov”. This typo is from the original book (2nd edition). K. Vrtanesyan ]

1. Liberty
2. Days of Childhood


WHEN God, who is forever free,
Breathed life into my earthly frame, —
From that first day, by His free will
When I a living soul became, —
A babe upon my mother’s, breast,
Ere power of speech was given to me,
Even then I stretched my feeble arms
Forth to embrace thee, Liberty!

Wrapped round with many swaddling bands,
All night I did not cease to weep,
And in the cradle, restless still,
My cries disturbed my mother’s sleep.
“ O mother !” in my heart I prayed,
“ Unbind my arms and leave me free ! ”
And even from that hour I vowed
To love thee ever, Liberty!

When first my faltering tongue was freed,
And when my parents’ hearts were stirred
With thrilling joy, to hear their son
Pronounce his first clear-spoken word,
“Papa, Mamma,” as children use,
Were not the names first said by me;
The first word on ray childish lips
Was thy great name, O Liberty!

“ Liberty ! ” answered from on high
The sovereign voice of Destiny :
“Wilt thou enroll thyself henceforth
A soldier true of Liberty ?
The path is thorny all the way,
And many trials wait for thee ;
Too strait and narrow is this world
For him who loveth Liberty.”

“ Freedom !” I answered, “ on my head
Let fire descend and thunder burst;
Let foes against my life conspire,
Let all who hate thee do their worst:
I will be true to thee till death ;
Yea, even upon the gallows tree
The last breath of a death of shame
Shall shout thy name, O Liberty !”



DAYS of my childhood, like a dream
Ye fleeted, to return no more.
Ah, happy days and free from care,
Ye brought but joy in passing o’er !

Then Science came, and on the world
He gazed with grave, observant looks ;
All things were analyzed and weighed,
And all my time was given to books.

When to full consciousness I woke,
My country’s woes weighed down my heart.
Apollo gave me then his lyre,
To bid my gloomy cares depart.

Alas ! that lyre beneath my touch
Sent forth a grave and tearful voice,
Sad as my soul; no single chord
Would breathe a note that said “ Rejoice !”

Ah, then at last I felt, I knew,
There never could be joy for me,
While speechless, sad, in alien hands,
My country languished to be free.

Apollo, take thy lyre again,
And let its voice, amid the groves,
Sound for some man who may in peace
Devote his life to her he loves!

To the arena I will go,
But not with lyre and flowery phrase;
I will protest and cry aloud,
And strive with darkness all my days.

What boots to-day a mournful lyre ?
To-day we need the sword of strife.
Upon the foeman sword and fire, —
Be that the watchword of my life !


See also:

Mikael Nalbandian's page in Armenian
“Azatutyun” (“Liberty” in Armenian)
Russian poetry translated by Alice Stone Blackwell


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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