- 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"

RAFFI (Hagop Melik Hagopian) was born in the village of Phayajouk in Salmast, Persia, in 1835, the son of a prominent merchant. Business reverses forced his father to take him from school and put him to work. In 1858 he traveled through Turkish Armenia, and his soul was stirred by the injustice and oppression suffered by the Armenians. In 1872, when Ardzrouni started in Tiflis his famous paper, “Mushak” (The Workman), Raffi became a regular contributor. Aroused by the terrible events of those days, he wrote for it, as serials, a number of patriotic novels—“The Fool,” “Sheik Jelalleddin” and others—which thrilled the people’s hearts and attained immense popularity. Some were historical novels in the style of Sir Walter Scott. He died in 1888, much regretted.

[ In the Alice Stone Blackwell's book "Armenian Poems" there were two different poems named “The Lake of Van” in the first and second parts of the book. I marked them (1) and (2). K. Vrtanesyan ]

1. The Lake of Van (1)
2. Thou and I
3. The Lake of Van (2)


SPEAK, O lake ! why ate thy waters silent ?
Wilt thou not lament with luckless me ?
Move, ye zephyrs, move the rippling wavelets
With this lake my tears shall mingled be.

Tell me, lake, — for thou hast been a witness
Of our history from the earliest day, —
Shall Armenia, that was once a garden,
Always be a thorny desert gray ?

Shall our hapless fatherland forever
By a foreign master be down-trod ?
Are the Armenians and their sons unworthy,
Judged before the righteous throne of God ?

Is a glad day coming, when a banner
Shall on Ararat its folds expand,
And from every side Armenian pilgrims
Hasten to their beauteous fatherland ?



WOULD I were the lake, so blue and calm,
And thou, fair maiden, with reluctant pride,
Wouldst see thy picture, delicate and faint,
Thy sacred image, in my depths abide.

Or would that on the shore a willow grew,
And thou mightst lean on it, and the frail tree
Might let thee fall into the lake, and there
Sway with its waters everlastingly !

I would I were the forest, dark and vast,
And that thou there mightst come to muse alone,
And, ere I knew it, I might overhear
What thy lips murmur in an undertone.

Or would that thou mightst sit beneath a tree,
Singing a pure, sweet song; and leaf and bough,
With admiration trembling, would descend
And form a coronal to wreathe thy brow.

I would I were the face of the dark sky,
That so from heaven I might shake down on thee
A multitude of stars, as ’t were my tears;
Ah, do not tread upon them scornfully!

Would I the writer were, and thou the theme !
Would thou affection wert, and I the heart!
I the bouquet, and thou its silken string;
When thou art loosed, the flowers will fall apart.

Oh, would I were a lover of sweet song,
And thou my lyre, angel for whom I pine !
And that thy chords beneath my unskilled hands
Might vibrate till thy heart responds to mine !



DEEP silence everywhere—a hush profound!
One might imagine nature to be dead.
Sitting here mournfully, a pilgrim lone,
O brilliant moon, I see thee overhead.

Since the beginning of the world and time,
Moon, thou hast run thy course. Oh, hast thou seen
The poor Armenians, once so fortunate,
And dost thou now behold their sufferings keen?

I wonder if thou too, like me, O moon,
Seeing Armenia ’neath barbarian feet,
Dost shed salt tears of grief and bitterness,
And in thy heart do piercing arrows meet?

Thy heart is like a rock, thy conscience dead.
How many massacres have met thine eye,
How many a carnage! yet thou buildest now
Again a bright arch o’er Armenia’s sky.

Wherefore this silence? Speak to me, O lake!
Wilt thou not weep with me, whose heart is rent?
O breezes, stir the waves to billows high,
And with these waters let my tears be blent!

From the beginning all things thou hast seen
That in Armenia happened. Tell us, pray,
Whether Armenia, once a garden fair,
Shall always be a thorny desert gray?

Oh, can it be, our nation, full of woe,
Shall ’neath a foreign prince’s sway lie prone?
Oh, can it be, the Armenians and their sons
Are found unworthy before God’s high throne?

Will a day come when from Mt. Ararat
A banner shall be seen, by breezes fanned,
And when Armenian pilgrims everywhere
Shall start for their beloved fatherland?

’Tis hard, O Heavenly Ruler! but inspire
Their souls, and let Thy light of knowledge flame
O’er them, to show them what is human life—
They by their works shall glorify Thy name!

Upon the lake there shone a sudden light;
A graceful maid rose from the waters there;
A lighted lantern in one hand she bore,
In one a shining lyre of ivory fair.

Was she some nymph, some peerless angel? Nay,
A matchless fair Armenian Muse was she.
Muse, read the fate of the Armenians!
The present and the future tell to me!

That sweet celestial spirit spoke: “Good news
I bring to thee, young pilgrim! Dry thine eyes.
New, happy days shall come; when reigns God’s will
Freely, the Golden Age again shall rise.

“Armenia’s Muses will awake again,
And her Parnassus blossom gloriously;
The car of Phoebus, shedding light abroad,
Shall circle round Armenia’s gloomy sky.

“We too, like thee, passed many mournful days,
When a dark night, that seemed it ne’er would cease,
Enwrapped Armenia; and we too, dear youth,
Have now received the olive branch of peace.

“Wipe thy lyre’s rusted strings with joy to-day,
Go to Armenia with an ardent song!
Awake the zeal of the Armenians,
Their zeal benumbed in lethargy so long.

“The time has come, the time so long desired;
Fulfilled is now the old prophetic word;
The day will dawn; behold the morning star,
A sign made visible—thus saith the Lord!”

Then darkness fell, the figure disappeared;
But long was heard the voice of sweetness rare,
Mixed with the murmur of the lapping waves,
And aromatic fragrance filled the air.

O happy news! O tidings glad and sweet!
What joy, fair Muse, for sad and sorrowing men!
Tell us, reveal if it be possible
For a dead corpse to wake and live again!


See also:

Biography of Raffi
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

Design & Content © Anna & Karen Vrtanesyan, unless otherwise stated.  Legal Notice