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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"


ARCHAG TCHOBANIAN was born in Constantinople in 1872, the son of a poor silversmith. He became a teacher and writer, contributing to various periodicals poems, fairy tales, literary studies and criticisms. He brought out a successful drama, was appointed teacher of the history of literature in the Central School, and became editor of a literary and artistic magazine. In 1895 he settled in Paris, where he has devoted himself to making the Armenians better known in Europe. He is an indefatigable worker, and has published, in French, a number of volumes containing translations of Armenian literature, ancient and modern, besides editing “Anahit,” a literary and critical magazine which he founded.

1. The Bond
2. To the Moon
3. The Wind
4. Within My Heart
5. The Lullaby of Mother Armenia

1. THE BOND.

ALL things are bound together by a tie
Finer and subtler than a ray of light;
Color and sound and fleeting fragrances,
The maiden’s smile, the star-beam sparkling bright,
Are knit together by a secret bond
Finer and subtler than a ray of light.

Sometimes an urn of memories is unsealed
Just by a simple tune, or sad or gay;
Part of the past with every quivering note
From its dark sleep awakens to the day,
And we live o’er again a long-past life,
Just through a simple tune, or sad or gay.

Some flowers bring men and women back to mind;
A well-known face smiles on us in their hue;
Their bright cups, moved by the capricious wind,
Will make us dream of eyes, black eyes or blue;
We in their fragrance feel a breath beloved;
Flowers bring back men and women whom we knew.

The summer sea recalls fond, happy hours;
We in the sunset see our dead once more;
In starlight, holy loves upon us smile;
With our own griefs the stormy thunders roar;
The zephyr breathes to us a name adored;
We in the sunset see the dead once more.

All things are bound in closest unison,
Throughout the world, by many a mystic thread.
The flower and love, the breeze and reverie,
Nature and man, and things alive and dead,
Are all akin, and bound in harmony
Throughout the world, by many a mystic thread.

2. TO THE MOON.

WHY am I not the thin white cloud
That, floating soft and slow,
Veils the pure splendor of your face
’Neath its transparent snow?

Or one of those unnumbered stars—
Bees that in heaven’s height
Flit round you, seeking honey there,
O shining Rose of light?

Why am I not the dark-browed mount
Where you a moment stay,
Ere spreading your broad, viewless wings
To soar through heaven away?

Why am I not the forest deep,
Where, dropping through the air,
’Mid foliage dark slip in and hang
Threads of your golden hair?

Why am I not the tranquil sea
On which your beams descend,
Where molten diamonds and fire
And milk and honey blend?

Alas, why am I not at least
That cold tomb of the dead,
On which your rays so tenderly
Their tears’ bright sadness shed?

3. THE WIND.

THE Wind’s the aged traveler
Who sings old songs he knows,
As all alone, without a guide,
He through the forest goes.

His voice caresses like a kiss
When over flowers he strays;
The Wind’s the ancient traveler
Who murmurs old-time lays.

But like a cataract he roars
Far out upon the sea,
And rushing through the winter nights
He curses savagely.

4. WITHIN MY HEART.

THIN my heart there is a maid
Would fain, with earnest will,
Recall an old, forgotten tune;
But it eludes her still.

Within my heart there is a child
Who waits, with longing dumb
And endless hope, for somebody
Who does not, does not come.

There is an old man in my heart
Who calls eternally
To someone very far away
Who never makes reply.

5. LULLABY FOR MOTHER ARMENIA.

ALL naked at the crossroads thou dost sit.
The snow descends and clings along thine hair.
Dark wounds are in thy flesh; thine eyes have grown
As red as lakes of blood, in thy despair.

The ancient Mother thou, of age-long griefs;
Misfortune round thy heart its chain hath laid
In countless rings; black winds have smitten thee,
And heavy shadows on thy life have weighed.

What evil fairy spun thy thread of fate?
Who, seeing thee cast down and like to die,
Will call to mind that thou wast once a maid
Of mighty strength, with proud and radiant eye?

Thy tresses like a banner floated wide
On the free mountain where thy spirit fleet
Leaped, with exultant cry, from peak to peak;
Thy proud breast swelled with milk as honey sweet.

All brigands have desired thee; monstrous foes
Threw themselves on thee; long didst thou contend,
Long didst thou struggle, until, wearied out,
Thou didst sink down exhausted at the end.

And yet, amid destructive forces vast,
Thy soul was kind and fruitful in all worth.
Thou to the world didst add a flower of life;
Thy fingers drew forth beauty from the earth.

Mother of gold wast thou, with dazzling breasts,—
The Goddess Anahit,* with peaceful eyes.
Wealth from thy bosom rained, rays from thy glance;
Thy lips were musical, thy hands were wise.

______________________
* The Goddess of love, in Armenia’s pagan days.
______________________

Barbarians bound thy hands, thy tender flesh
Tore and polluted; in those darksome days
Thou didst become the Mother blood-bestained,
With myriad wounds, and dragged through Calvary’s ways.

Yet thou wast beauteous, thou wast brave in pain!
In fetters, still thy soul did ardent burn.
Thou brokest many a formidable yoke,
And oft from death to life didst thou return.

Thine eyes were turned forever to the light;
Toward the new world its course thy spirit sped;
And thou stood’st firm for centuries, all alone,
Against the flood of Asia making head.

That torrent, growing greater and more fierce,
O’erthrew thee, quenched beneath its waves thy light.
Then wretched, panting, stretched upon the earth,
Yet living still, thou waitedst through the night.

Sometimes by night the crosses of old tombs
Stirred and were shaken; with an angry light
The genii of Mt. Ararat passed by;
From thy great lakes shot flashes red and bright.

The low sound of a drum-beat crossed the air,
And, trembling; to the mountain summit bold
Thou didst lift up thine eyes; then fell again
The heavy shadows and the silence cold.

Once, anguished, thou upstartedst; from thy lips
A cry of pain and of rebellion rushed;
But deaf the world remained; thine effort vain
’Neath the blind heel of brutal force was crushed.

’Mid fires of evil omen, monsters dire
Appeared, which burned thine heart, plucked out thine eyes.
Driven from thy home, thou on the ground didst fall
’Mid blood and ashes, ’neath the windy skies.

And now, a mournful shadow, thou dost sit
’Mid smoking ruins, desolate, oppressed.
Thy wounds are bitten by the wind; the blood
Falls drop by drop from thy discolored breast.

Slowly thou shak’st thy head, and shedding tears
Thou singest low and sweet a lullaby—
That of thy children fallen in their blood,
Or exiled, scattered, flung abroad to die;

The lullaby of youthful flames now quenched,
And eyes now darkened that were once so fair;
And that of those who live and suffer still,
In poverty, in dungeons, in despair.

Enough! Thy lullaby’s a chant of death!
Enough! We’ll sing thee a new lullaby—
A lullaby of hope and of revenge.
The dead will thrill with joy where low they lie.

Lift up thy head, weep not! Holy is grief,
And great and wholesome. Earth naught nobler knows
Than is the victim brave beneath his cross.
’Tis in the shadow that the dawn-light grows.

The black destroyers, the red torturers
Shall vanish—they like smoke shall disappear,
And from thine ashes thou shalt rise again,
Made young by suffering, radiant, bright and clear.

Weep not! No longer droop thy piteous head,
Nor let thine hair stream wild the winds among;
But know thyself, and gather up thy powers!
Thy strength has propped a stranger’s house too long.

Pale brothers who have fallen, sleep in peace!
Stretch thy great hands and bless us, Mother! Rise,
And may our blood dry up, and may our lives
Be for thine happiness a sacrifice!

Thou shalt come forth triumphant from these shades;
Stars shall thine eyes become, and sparkle bright;
Thy wounds to radiant roses shall be changed,
And from thy whitened hair shall spring forth light.

Thou at the opening of the ways shalt stand,
And break the bonds that held thee down in gloom.
O Mother, rise! thy pains were childbirth pangs;
It is a world that stirs within thy womb!

 

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:

Biography of Arshak Tchobanian
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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