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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 PORTOUKALIAN was among the founders of the Armenian patriotic movement. Born in Constantinople about 1850, in his school days he came under the influence of Chrimian, and he devoted himself to spreading education in Armenia. He became an editor and teacher, and organized a strong society which founded many schools. In Van, besides a Normal School for general purposes, he started a Sunday school to teach patriotism. The young people were so unwilling to study on Sunday that at first he had to pay them ten cents apiece to come; but they became so enthusiastic that many of them later gave not only their money but their lives to the cause. The Turkish government suppressed his paper, and repeatedly closed his schools; but he had educated a generation of boys in progressive ideas. About thirty years ago he went to Marseilles, France, and started his paper, “Armenia,” which he has published ever since, at the cost of much sacrifice. He organized the “ Armenian Patriotic Association,” which soon spread into Persia, Turkey, Europe and America. It was a great inspiration to all those Armenians who cherished revolutionary ideals, and it influenced the formation of the various revolutionary societies, the Hunchagists, Trochagists, etc. Mr. Portoukalian, however, is not an ultra radical. He has always advised against revolutionary demonstrations, foreseeing that they would lead to massacres. He felt that the first necessity was education. He has written a number of books and many
political pamphlets, as well as poems and patriotic songs. For nearly half a century, he has been a devoted and self-sacrificing worker for his people.

1. The Armenian Girl
2. The Armenian Maid's Lament

 

1. THE ARMENIAN GIRL.

IN my country laid in ruins, where the wrecks of churches, thrones,
Grand buildings, crowns and palaces upon the ground are strewn,
You would think that their first glory they now silently lament.
A gentle maid, with face of woe, I see there, all alone.

What is this voice of mourning that she utters from her heart?
What is this flood of tear-drops from her eyes, as deep she grieves?
They wet her red cheeks, covered by her dark curls, as the dew
Of morn the rose’s trembling head, all covered by its leaves.

Why so abundant are the tears outgushing from her eyes?
Lo, signs of blood (oh, terror!) upon her pupils soft!
Angels of heaven, who see those tears, have pity and descend,—
Collect them in a crystal cup and carry them aloft!

But no, not so; nay, leave them; to us those tears are pearls.
They sweeten the sad rivers whose bitter waters flow
Forth from the ruins; from each tear the gentle maiden sheds,
Amid the ruins, lilies white shall sprout, and bud, and blow.

Like the spring breeze, a perfume sweet she leaves where’er she walks.
She comes with trembling lips to kiss the ruins. Kneeling low,
With hair disheveled, arms outstretched, and tearful eyes upraised
Toward heaven, lo, lying prostrate, she laments in grief and woe.

Oh, let all the world be silent! We must hear the maid’s lament.
Why mourns she thus? What sufferings are those she has to bear?
What heart but must be horror-struck to hear her trembling voice
Relate her sorrows infinite, in accents of despair?

“O God!” she cried, “how long wilt thou leave desolate this land?
How long with pangs unnumbered shall my aching heart be thrilled?
Which must I mourn—the ruins, or my brothers’ shameful strife,
Who smite each other always? Oh, these days with grief are filled!

“How wretched is my nation’s lot, girt round with many woes,
With snakes within and snakes without, beset on every hand!
Sons, traitors, ’gainst their mother arm; base writers who take bribes
Would teach the people conscience and the love of native land!

“God and religion, cruel ones, for you exist no more;
Your god is gold, I know full well; for it you sacrifice
All things beside, whate’er they be; but oh! from your hearts’ depths
Does not one voice to torture you at any time arise?”

2. THE ARMENIAN MAID’s LAMENT.

WHEN my Armenia’s name I hear, my heart with violence throbs;
When all her sorrows I recall, tears flood my eyes like rain.
Was ever any country so luckless and forlorn?
With none to listen to her voice, she cries in bitter pain.

Rise, Vartan, Dikran, Aram, and your Mother once behold!
Let her laments awake you from the graves where ye abide!
And see, see how the house of Haig in exile wanders now!
’Tis banished without pity, stricken sore on every side.

Ah, Haiasdan, my mother dear, how long, alas! How long
Shall your children sigh far from you? How long must you still roam?
How long before this motherless Armenian maid shall reach
Your sacred arms, and wet with tears your tender hands, at home?

If I could fly and lay my head upon my mother’s breast,
And quench with joyful tears the flame with which my heart is rife!
Let me be once caressed by her, and greet her with a kiss,
Then let the foeman’s whetted steel there sacrifice my life!

Come, brothers and fair sisters, join hands and let its work!
Our enemy is ignorance, look not for one elsewhere.
This foe has wrought us evil, from our mother made us part.
We’ll conquer it and drive it forth by study, love and care.

Brothers and sisters, oh, how long will you indifferent be?
How long must we let tares be sown amid our fields of grain?
Ah, must we waken when the foe destroys and scatters all
Unto the winds, till naught for a memorial shall remain?

Maid, let your hopeless heart be cleft, your smothered wail burst forth,
And let it ring on every side, beneath the heaven’s cope !
Yea, let it reach Armenia, and your mother, pitying, hear!
Perhaps she will console you, since in aliens is no hope.

Alas, I am afraid this pain will bring me to the grave,
And none will echo more my voice when I “Armenia!” cry.
On every side is silence; you would think that here death reigned,
And that, ’mid death and ruins, a lonely owl was I.

Ah, Haiasdan, to you I give my heart and soul! Accept!
Let me die, and my Armenia arise, if this may be!
Am I imprisoned for her sake, a palace is the jail;
And if my hands and feet are chained, that too is joy to me.

If exiled, forced by want to roam, for my Armenia’s sake,
To me shall be a paradise each place beneath the sky.
Let me but reach my aim, and then be to the gallows led;
“Armenia!” from the gallows-tree my strangling voice shall cry.

 

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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