- 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"

RAPHAEL PATKANIAN, the most popular of Armenian poets, was born in Southern Russia in 1830. He was the son of poor parents, but both his father and grandfather had been distinguished for their poetic gifts. While at the University of Moscow, he organized a literary club among his Armenian fellow students, and from the initials of their names formed his own pen-name of Kamar Katiba. Many of his poems were written during the Turco-Russian war, when the Russian Armenians cherished high hopes for the deliverance of Turkish Armenia from the Ottoman yoke. Patkahian died in 1892, after forty-two years of continuous activity, as a teacher, author, and

1. Cradle Song
2. The Tears of Araxes
3. The Armenian Girl
4. The New Generation
5. Lullaby
6. To My Nightingale
7. Shall We Be Silent?
8. If
9. Praise to the Sultan
10. What Shall We Do?
11. The Sad-Faced Moon
12. Complaint to Europe
13. Song of the Van Mother
14. Easter Song
15. The Sure Hope


NIGHTINGALE, oh, leave our garden,
Where soft dews the blossoms steep ;
With thy litanies melodious
Come and sing my son to sleep!
Nay, he sleeps not for thy chanting,
And his weeping hath not ceased.
Come not, nightingale ! My darling
Does not wish to be a priest.

O thou thievish, clever jackdaw,
That in coin findest thy joy,
With thy tales of gold and profit
Come and soothe my wailing boy !
Nay, thy chatter does not lull him,
And his crying is not stayed.
Come not, jackdaw ! for my darling
Will not choose the merchant’s trade.

Wild dove, leave the fields and pastures
Where thou grievest all day long;
Come and bring my boy sweet slumber
With thy melancholy song !
Still he weeps. Nay, come not hither,
Plaintive songster, for I see
That he loves not lamentations,
And no mourner will he be.

Leave thy chase, brave-hearted falcon!
Haply he thy song would hear.
And the boy lay hushed, and slumbered,
With the war-notes in his ear.


I WALK by Mother Arax
With faltering steps and slow,
And memories of past ages
Seek in the waters’ flow.

But they run dark and turbid,
And beat upon the shore
In grief and bitter sorrow,
Lamenting evermore.

“ Araxes ! with the fishes
Why dost not dance in glee ?
The sea is still far distant,
Yet thou art sad, like me.

“ From thy proud eyes, O Mother,
Why do the tears downpour ?
Why dost thou haste so swiftly
Past thy familiar shore ?

“ Make not thy current turbid;
Flow calm and joyously.
Thy youth is short, fair river;
Thou soon wilt reach the sea.

“ Let sweet rose-hedges brighten
Thy hospitable shore,
And nightingales among them
Till morn their music pour.

“ Let ever-verdant willows
Lave in thy waves their feet,
And with their bending branches
Refresh the noonday heat.

“ Let shepherds on thy margin
Walk singing, without fear;
Let lambs and kids seek freely
Thy waters cool and clear.”

Araxes swelled her current,
Tossed high her foaming tide,
And in a voice of thunder
Thus from her depths replied; —

“ Rash, thoughtless youth, why com’st thou
My age-long sleep to break,
And memories of my myriad griefs
Within my breast to wake ?

“ When hast thou seen a widow,
After her true-love died,
From head to foot resplendent
With ornaments of pride ?

“ For whom should I adorn me?
Whose eyes shall I delight?
The stranger hordes that tread my banks
Are hateful in my sight.

“ My kindred stream, impetuous Kur,
Is widowed, like to me,
But bows beneath the tyrant’s yoke,
And wears it slavishly.

“ But I, who am Armenian,
My own Armenians know ;
I want no stranger bridegroom ;
A widowed stream I flow.

“ Once I, too, moved in splendor,
Adorned as is a bride
With myriad precious jewels,
My smiling banks beside.

“ My waves were pure and limpid,
And curled in rippling play ;
The morning star within them
Was mirrored till the day.

“ What from that time remaineth?
All, all has passed away.
Which of my prosperous cities
Stands near my waves to-day?

“ Mount Ararat doth pour me,
As with a mother’s care,
From out her sacred bosom
Pure water, cool and fair.

“ Shall I her holy bounty
To hated aliens fling?
Shall strangers’ fields be watered
From good Saint Jacob’s spring?

“ For filthy Turk or Persian
Shall I my waters pour.
That they may heathen rites perform
Upon my very shore,

“ While my own sons, defenceless,
Are exiled from their home,
And, faint with thirst and hunger,
In distant countries roam?

“ My own Armenian nation
Is banished far away;
A godless, barbarous people
Dwells on my banks to-day.

“ Shall I my hospitable shores
Adorn in festive guise
For them, or gladden with fair looks
Their wild and evil eyes?

“ Still, while my sons are exiled,
Shall I be sad, as now.
This is my heart’s deep utterance,
My true and holy vow.”

No more spake Mother Arax;
She foamed up mightily,
And, coiling like a serpent,
Wound sorrowing toward the sea.


HAVE you seen the bright moon rising
In the heavens? Have you seen
Ruddy apricots that shimmer
Through the garden’s foliage green?

Have you seen the red rose glowing
Where green leaves about her meet.
And around her, in a bevy,
Lilies, pinks, and iris sweet ?

Lo, beside Armenia’s maiden,
Dark and dim the bright moon is ;
Apricots and pinks and iris
Are not worth a single kiss.

Roses on her cheeks are blooming,
On her brow a lily fair,
And of innocence the symbol
Is the smile her sweet lips wear.

From her friend she takes the zither
With a blush the heart that wins ;
Touching it with dainty fingers,
The lekzinca* she begins.
* An Oriental dance.

Like a tree her form is slender,
Swaying with a dreamy grace;
Now she flies with rapid footsteps,
Now returns with gliding pace.

All the young men’s hearts are melted
When the maiden they behold,
And the old men curse their fortune
That so early they grew old.


WHEN the mother, with sore travail,
To the world a man-child gives,
Let a sharp sword from his father
Be the first gift he receives.

As he grows, instead of playthings,
Toys for childish sport and game,
Let his father give him, rather,
A good gun, of deadly aim.

When his time is come for schooling,
Let him to the sword give heed;
Teach him first to wield his weapon;
After, let him learn to read.

Skill of reading, craft of writing,
Is a useful thing and good;
But at the examinations
Ask him first, “ Canst thou shed blood ?

Hope ye in no other manner
Poor Armenia to save.
Ill the beggar’s part beseemeth
Independent men and brave.


AWAKE, my darling ! Open those bright eyes, dark and deep,
And scatter from thine eyelids the heavy shades of sleep.
Sweet tales the angels long enough in dreams have told to thee;
Now I will tell thee of the things thou in the world shalt see.

Awake, and ope thy beauteous eyes, my child, my little one!
Thy mother sees therein her life, her glory, and her sun.

Thou shalt grow up, grow tall and strong, as rises in the air
A stately plane-tree; how I love thy stature tall and fair!
The heroes of Mount Ararat, their ghosts shall strengthen thee
With power and might, that thou as brave as Vartan’s self mayst be.

A golden girdle for thy waist my fingers deft have made,
And from it I have hung a sword, — my own hands ground the blade.

Within our courtyard stands a steed that, champing, waits for thee.
Awake, and take thy sword! How long wilt thou a slumberer be ?
Thy nation is in misery; in fetters, lo! they weep ;
Thy brethren are in slavery, my brave one; wilt thou sleep?

No, soon my son will waken, will mount his champing steed,
Will wipe away Armenia’s tears, and stanch the hearts that bleed;
Will bid his nation’s mourning cease, and those that weep shall smile.
Ah, my Armenian brethren, wait but a little while !

Lo, my Aghassi has awaked ! He girt himself with speed,
And from his sword-belt hung the sword, and mounted on his steed.


WHY didst thou cease, O nightingale, thy sweet, melodious song,
That to my sad and burning eyes bade floods of teardrops throng?
Dost thou remember, when in spring the dawn was breaking clear,
How often to my heart thou hast recalled my country dear ?

Sweet was that memory, as a dream that for a moment’s space
Brings joy into a mourner’s heart, and brightens his sad face.
The weary world forgotten, to thy voice I bent my ear;
And I was far away, and saw once more my country dear.

I know thou too art longing for that vernal land the while, —
That paradise, afar from which Fate has for us no smile.
Oh, who will give me a bird’s wings, that I may sweep and soar,
And cleave the clouds, and hie me to Armenia once more ?

If I could breathe her holy and revivifying air,
I know I should be cured at last of all this weight of care.
But when spring passed away it brought thy music to a close,
And took from us thy chanted hymn, with the petals of the rose.

I’ll open thy cage door; thou ’rt free ! Now to Armenia fly!
Dost thou desire the rose, ’t is there ; there is a cloudless sky;
There are cool breezes, o’er the fields that softly, sweetly blow;
A sun that shines in splendor, and brooks that mur¬muring flow.

I too, like thee, am longing for a sunny atmosphere ;
The mist and cloud and heavy air have tired my spirit here.
The North wind blows the dust to heaven, the crows with harsh notes sail;
This is the Northern air, and this the Northern nightingale !

O foolish, poor Armenians, what seek ye in the North?
I hate its empty pleasures and its life of little worth.
Give me my country’s balmy air, her cloudless sky o’erhead;
Give me my country’s pastures green, my country’s roses red !


SHALL we be silent, brothers?
Shall we be silent still?
Our foe has set against our breasts
His sword, that thirsts to kill;
His ears are deaf to cries and groans.
O brothers, make avow !
What shall we do ? What is our part ?
Shall we keep silence now ?

Our foe has seized our fatherland
By guile and treachery ;
Has blotted out the name of Haig,
And ruined utterly
The house of Thorkom, to the ground ;
Has reft from us, to boot,
Our crown, our arms, our right of speech —
And shall we still be mute ?

Our foe has seized our guardian swords,
Our ploughs that tilled the plain,
And from the ploughshare and the sword
Has welded us a chain.
Alas for us ! for we are slaves,
And fettered hand and foot
With bonds and manacles of iron —
And shall we still be mute?

Our foeman, holding o’er our heads
His weapon fierce and strong,
Makes us devour our bitter tears,
Our protests against wrong.
So many woes are heaped on us,
To weep our sorrows’ sum
We need the broad Euphrates’ flood -
And shall we still be dumb?

Our foe, with overweening pride,
Treads justice under foot,
And drives us from our native soil —
And shall we still be mute ?
Like strangers in our fatherland,
Pursued o’er plain and hill,
O brothers, where shall we appeal?
Shall we be silent still?

Not yet content with all the ills
That he has made us bear,
His insolent and cursed hand
He stretches forth, to tear
The last bond of our nation’s life —
And, if he have his will,
Complete destruction waits for us ;
Shall we be silent still?

Scorning the glory of our land,
Our foe, with malice deep,
Invades our church, and makes the wolf
The shepherd of the sheep.
We have no sacred altars now;
In valley or on hill
No place of prayer is left to us;
Shall we be silent still?

If we keep silence, even now,
When stones have found a voice,
Will not men say that slavery
Is our desert and choice ?
The sons of brave and holy sires,
Sprung from a sacred root,
We know the deeds our fathers did —
How long shall we be mute ?

Mute be the dumb, the paralyzed,
Those that hold slavery dear !
But we, brave hearts, let us march forth
To battle, without fear;
And, if the worst befall us,
Facing the foe like men,
Win back in death our glory,
And sleep in silence then !

8. IF.

IF my white hair could once again be black,
And my old strength return to me at need,
And if I could become a valiant youth,
With sword in hand, upon a fiery steed;

I to the field of Avarair would go,
Field where Armenian blood rained down like dew.
O my loved nation, Thorkom’s ancient race !
I would give back your long-lost crown to you.

To the Armenian maidens I would say:
“ Sell now your costly garments beautiful;
Put by adornment, luxury, and pearls;
Our swords are rusty, and their blades are dull.

“ Give us your muslin robes, Armenian maids,
That we our bleeding wounds may stanch and stay;
Weave bandages for us of your thick hair;
’ T is thus you need to show? your love to-day.”

Were I a rich man, in whose coffers deep
The gold and silver to great heaps had grown,
I would not be, as many are, alas !
A patriot in vain words, and words alone.

Not bright champagne, nor Russia’s crystal cross,
But store of balls and powder I would buy;
Against Armenia’s foemen I would go
With a great host, freely and fearlessly.

Or if I were a nation’s potent king,
I to my army would give strong command
To march with fleet steps toward Armenia,
To help the poor oppressed Armenian land.

But if for one brief day, one little hour,
One moment’s space, I were the Lord of all,
What a sharp spear at our blood-thirsty foes
I with strong arm would hurl, and make them fall!

O guileful Russian ! Base and vicious Turk !
O vengeful Persian! O fanatic Greek,
Armenia’s age-long rival! On your sons
My two-edged sword should righteous vengeance wreak!


OUR thanks to you, great Sultan ! You have turned
Armenia to a chaos of hewn stone;
Daily by myriads you have slaughtered us;
Our thriving hamlets you have overthrown.

Glory and fame unto your Majesty!
Following the Koran’s law, you have not feared
Our holy Bible’s pages to defile;
With filth and mire the cross you have besmeared.

Our gratitude to you, great Padishah !
Gain from our slaughter has accrued to you;
Your intimate associates you have made
Circassians foul, and Koords, a thievish crew.

In noisome dungeons, thousands glorify
Your Sovereign Majesty with loud acclaims.
You leave no blank in all the calendar,
But fill each space with myriad martyrs’ names.

Armenia’s happy ruins, glorious King,
Will ne’er forget you; on our history’s page
Your wondrous deeds and your illustrious name
Shall blazoned be, to live from age to age.


“WHAT shall we do ? ” Now, shame on those who that weak plaint renew !
He that despairs, in deepest shame his cowardice shall rue.
Armenian brothers, let us ask no more what we shall do!

What does the man do that has chanced to fall into the sea?
What does he do that has no bread, and starves in poverty ?
What does he do that has been seized and bound in slavery?

He that is drowning in the sea struggles with all his might;
The hungry man wears out his neighbor’s threshold day and night;
He that is in captivity seeks ever means of flight.

O rich man, for what purpose hast thou filled thy chests with gold?
O youth, for what hast thou reserved thy strength, thy courage bold?
O patriot, wherefore hast thou loved thy country from of old?

Let us no more the plaint renew, “ Armenians, say, what shall we do ?”

(From “The Death of Vartan.”)

MOON, fair moon, how long wilt thou appear
So pale, so mournful, in the heavens’ height ?
Have the dark storm-clouds filled thee with alarm,
Or fiery lightnings, flashing through the night ?

There is none like to thee among the stars;
The only beauty of the heavens thou art
Hast thou grown pale with envy ? Nay, O moon,
Thou hast some other secret in thy heart.

Why is thy countenance thus changed and sad?
Speak to me freely ! On the darkest day,
If we but find a sympathizing friend
’T is said that half our grief will pass away.

The mourner is the mourner’s comforter.
Where wilt thou find a sadder man than I,
Forsaken and in sorrow, and, like thee,
Hiding a secret, without word or cry ?

I pass my days in grief, gay among men,
Weeping in solitude ; my salt tears flow,
My sad sighs sound forever, without rest;
I have no sympathizer in my woe.

Yet every living creature has a friend ;
Shall I alone lack love and friendship? Nay,
Open thy heart to me ! If thou art sad,
My sympathy will charm thy grief away.

( The moon speaks.)

Hearken ! One night innumerable stars
Filled the blue sky. Among them, like a bride,
I glided softly, with my bright face veiled.
I passed o’er Pontus, bathing in its tide;

I touched the summits of the Caucasus;
I saw in Lake Sevan my mirrored face;
I came to great Lake Van, of fishes full,
And cooled me in its waves a little space.

O’er many mountains, many fields I passed,
Shedding my light; o’er all reigned silence deep ;
Amid his cattle in the quiet field
The weary farmer lay in peaceful sleep.

Ah, fair Armenia on that night was blest!
The stars of heaven made her more glorious still;
And I, slow passing o’er her through the skies,
Gazed on that land, and could not gaze my fill.

In one short month, my circuit I renewed.
O’er cities, mountains, lakes, I passed in haste,
Longing to visit the Armenian land.
Night had again her fruitful fields embraced ;

But oh ! where were the bounteous harvests now?
Where was the tireless tiller of the soil?
Where was his little thick-necked buffalo?
Where were the gardens, product of his toil ?

Dark smoke had covered the Armenian sky;
Cities and hamlets, burning, crashed and fell;
Fierce tongues of flame reached even to the clouds ;
To see Armenia was to gaze on hell!

Armenia, garden wet with heavenly dew !
Whence came this mighty woe, at whose behest ?
Did jealousy possess his evil heart?
Had in his soul a serpent made its nest?

Yes, it was age-long jealousy and hate,
That, smouldering deep, consume man’s heart away,
Until at last, with fierce and thundering sound,
The hidden fires break forth, to scorch and slay;

Like to a mountain, still and calm without,
On which the smooth snow all unmelted sleeps;
Suddenly, lightnings from its breast are born,
And o’er whole cities fiery ruin sweeps.

O fair Armenian land! Armenian race !
O happy places, ruined now and void !
Hamlets and cornfields, cloisters, teeming towns!
Where are you ? Why were you so soon destroyed?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

The moon was silent. And the dark clouds came
And hid the sky ; she passed behind a cloud;
And I was left alone and sorrowful,
Musing with folded arms and forehead bowed.

And ever since that time, when evening comes,
I wait the pale moon’s rising, calm and slow;
And as I gaze upon her mournful face,
I think upon my nation and its woe.


MY hands, my feet, the chain of slavery ties,
Yet Europe says, “ Why do you not arise ?
Justice nor freedom shall your portion be ;
Bear to the end the doom of slavery! ”

Six centuries, drop by drop, the tyrant drains
The last remaining life-blood from our veins ;
Yet Europe says, “ No strength, no power have they,”
And turns from us her scornful face away.

A needle is not left to us to-day,
And yet, “ You ought to draw the sword!” they say.
To powder and to shot could we give heed,
While we sought bread our starving ones to feed ?

Have you forgotten, Europe, how the dart
Of the fierce Persian pointed at your heart,
Until, on that dread field of Avarair,
Armenian blood quenched his fanatic fire ?*

Have you forgot the fell and crushing blow
Prepared for you by Islam long ago ?
We would not see your desolation then,
Burning of cities, massacre of men.

Two hundred years Armenia, bathed in blood,
Withstood that great invasion’s mighty flood.
Europe was safe, our living wall behind,
Until the enemy’s huge strength declined.

Have you forgotten, Europe, how of yore
Your heroes in the desert hungered sore ?
What then could strength or force of arms avail,
Had we not fed your hosts, with famine pale ?**

Ungrateful Europe, heed our woes, we pray ;
Remember poor Armenia to-day!

* Geographically, Armenia is the bridge between Europe and Asia. In the early centuries the Armenians acted the part of Horatius and “ kept the bridge,” defending the gate of Europe against the uncivilized hordes of Asia, — first against the Persian fire-worshippers, whose advance toward Europe the Armenians checked at the battle of Avarair in A. D. 451, and later against successive invasions of the Mohammedans.
** The Armenians acted as guides to the Crusaders in Asia; and when they were about to raise the siege of Antioch for want of food, the Armenians of Cilicia supplied them with provisions and enabled them to take the city.



I WILL not rock you, little boy, that sleep your soul may bind;
Your brothers have arisen; you only stay behind.
Awake from sleep, my darling! From the West hath shone the sun.
Awake ! The happy fortune of Armenia has begun.

Lo, it is fallen, dashed to bits, the Sultan’s golden throne !
From under it the liberty of many lands hath shone.
Now he who speedily shall rise shall find his liberty :
Will my fair son alone remain fast bound in slavery?

We have implored the Sultan with mourning and with cries;
We washed his hands, we washed his feet, with salt tears from our eyes.
He would not heed our piteous prayers, our sad, beseeching words;
Now let us see if he will heed the clashing of our swords!

My darling, let me from thine arms unbind the swaddling band,
And lay a sword of steel within that weak and tender hand!
Go to the bloody battlefield, O slave, and come back freed!
O Lord, our God, wilt thou one day unto our prayer give heed?


This Easter song is sung by the children. In Turkey and Russia the last verse is forbidden.

UNDERNEATH the south wind’s breathing,
From the fields the snow has fled;
All the children are rejoicing —
Christ is risen from the dead !

Brooks with happy voices murmur,
Boughs are budding overhead,
All the air is full of bird-songs —
Christ is risen from the dead !

Boys and girls wear festal raiment,
As in May the rose so red ;
Hatred from man’s heart is banished –
Christ is risen from the dead!

Christ is risen, all Nature tells us;
When, ah ! when shall it be said
Of thee also, O my country !
Thou art risen from the dead ?


LET the wind blow cold, let it beat my face,
Let the clouds above heavy snow-flakes fling,
Let the north wind blow, raging all it will,—
Yet I live in hope soon or late comes spring.

Let the heavy clouds make the clear sky dark,
Let the dense fogs cover the earth from sight,
Let the elements be together mixed,
Yet I know the sun will again be bright.

Let harsh trials come, persecutions rage,
And the light grow dim of the sun on high;
To Armenian hearts, pain is naught to dread—
But the poor man’s hope must not fade and die!


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:

Raphael Patkanian's poems (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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