- 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"

BEDROS TOURIAN, the son of an Armenian blacksmith of Scutari, was born in 1851. He lived in great poverty, and died of consumption in 1872. He left a number of dramas and poems that enjoy a great popularity among his countrymen.

1. Little Lake
2. Wishes for Armenia
3. To Love
4. New Dark Days
5. What Are You, Love?
6. I Have Loved Thee
7. In Memoriam of Vartan Lutfian
8. She
9. Little Gifts
10. My Grief
11. Complaints
12. Repentance
13. At Evening
14. To May
15. My Death


WHY dost thou lie in hushed surprise,
Thou little lonely mere ?
Did some fair woman wistfully
Gaze in thy mirror clear?

Or are thy waters calm and still
Admiring the blue sky,
Where shining cloudlets, like thy foam,
Are drifting softly by ?

Sad little lake, let us be friends!
I too am desolate ;
I too would fain, beneath the sky,
In silence meditate.

As many thoughts are in my mind
As wavelets o’er thee roam ;
As many wounds are in my heart
As thou hast flakes of foam.

But if heaven’s constellations all
Should drop into thy breast,
Thou still wouldst not be like my soul, —
A flame-sea without rest.

There, when the air and thou are calm,
The clouds let fall no showers ;
The stars that rise there do not set,
And fadeless are the flowers.

Thou art my queen, O little lake !
For e’en when ripples thrill
Thy surface, in thy quivering depths
Thou hold’st me, trembling, still.

Full many have rejected me :
“ What has he but his lyre ? ”
“ He trembles, and his face is pale ;
His life must soon expire ! ”

None said, “ Poor child, why pines he thus ?
If he beloved should be,
Haply he might not die, but live, —
Live, and grow fair to see.”

None sought the boy’s sad heart to read,
Nor in its depths to look.
They would have found it was a fire,
And not a printed book !

Nay, ashes now ! a memory !
Grow stormy, little mere,
For a despairing man has gazed
Into thy waters clear !



WHEN bright dews fall on leaf and flower,
And stars light up the skies,
Then tears and sparks commingled
Burst forth from my dim eyes.
Forget thee, O Armenia!
Nay, rather may I be
Transformed into a cypress dark,
And so give shade to thee !

The starry sky no comfort brings :
To me it seems a veil
Strewn with the tears that Ararat
Sheds from his summit pale.
O graves ! O ruins! to my soul
Your memory is as dear
As to the lover’s thirsting heart
The maiden’s first love-tear.
And shall my spirit after death
Oblivious be of you ?
Nay, but become a flood of tears,
And cover you with dew !

Not sword nor chains, abysses deep
Nor precipices fell,
Not thunder’s roll, nor lightning’s flash,
Nor funeral torch and knell —
Not all of these, ’neath death’s dark stone
Can ever hide from me
The glowing memories of the past,
Our days of liberty.
Forget you ? Ne’er will I forget,
O glorious days of yore !
Rather may I be changed to fire
And bring you back once more !

When twinkle pale the stars at dawn,
When dewy buds unclose,
And tenderly the nightingale
Is singing to the rose,
All Nature’s harmonies, alas !
Can ne’er give back to me
The sighs that sound where cypress boughs
Are moaning like the sea.
Forget you, black and bitter days ?
No, never! but instead
Rather may I be turned to blood,
And make your darkness red !

Armenia’s mountains dark may smile,
Siberia’s ice may smoke,
But stern, unbending spirits still
Press on my neck the yoke.
Inflexible and cold are they;
When feeling surges high,
And I would speak, they stifle down
My free soul’s bitter cry.
Forget thee, justice ? Never!
But ere my life departs,
Rather may I become a sword,
And make thee pierce men’s hearts!

When e’en the rich man and the priest
A patriot’s ardor feel,
And when Armenian hearts at length
Are stirred with love and zeal —
When free-souled sons Armenia bears,
These days of coldness past,
And fires of love and brotherhood
Are lighted up at last —
Shall I forget thee then, my lyre?
Ah, no ! but when I die
Rather may I become thy voice,
And o’er Armenia sigh !



A GALAXY of glances bright,
A sweet bouquet of smiles,
A crucible of melting words
Bewitched me with their wiles!

I wished to live retired, to love
The flowers and bosky glades,
The blue sky’s lights, the dew of morn,
The evening’s mists and shades;

To scan my destiny’s dark page,
In thought my hours employ,
And dwell in meditation deep
And visionary joy.

Then near me stirred a breath that seemed
A waft of Eden’s air,
The rustle of a maiden’s robe,
A tress of shining hair.

I sought to make a comrade dear
Of the transparent brook.
It holds no trace of memory ;
When in its depths I look,

I find there floating, clear and pale,
My face ! Its waters hold
No other secret in their breast
Than wavelets manifold.

I heard a heart’s ethereal throb;
It whispered tenderly:
“ Dost thou desire a heart? ” it said.
“ Beloved, come to me ! ”

I wished to love the zephyr soft
That breathes o’er fields of bloom;
It woundeth none, — a gentle soul
Whose secret is perfume.

So sweet it is, it has the power
To nurse a myriad dreams;
To mournful spirits, like the scent
Of paradise it seems.

Then from a sheaf of glowing flames
To me a whisper stole :
It murmured low, “ Dost thou desire
To worship a pure soul ? ”

I wished to make the lyre alone
My heart’s companion still,
To know it as a loving friend,
And guide its chords at will.

But she drew near me, and I heard
A whisper soft and low:
“ Thy lyre is a cold heart,” she said,
“ Thy love is only woe.”

My spirit recognized her then;
She beauty was, and fire,
Pure as the stream, kind as the breeze,
And faithful as the lyre.

My soul, that from the path had erred,
Spread wide its wings to soar,
And bade the life of solitude
Farewell forevermore.

A galaxy of glances bright,
A sweet bouquet of smiles,
A crucible of melting words
Bewitched me with their wiles!



THE centuries of bloodshed
Are past, those cruel years;
But there is still one country
Whose mountains drip with tears,
Whose river-banks are blood-stained,
Whose mourning loads the breeze,—
A land of dreary ruins,
Ashes, and cypress-trees.

No more for the Armenian
A twinkling star appears;
His spirit’s flowers have faded
Beneath a rain of tears.
Ceased are the sounds of harmless mirth,
The dances hand in hand ;
Only the weapon of the Koord
Shines freely through the land.

The bride’s soft eyes are tearful,
Behind her tresses’ flow,
Lest the Koord’s shout should interrupt
Love’s whisper, sweet and low.
Red blood succeeds love’s rosy flush;
Slain shall the bridegroom be,
And by the dastard Koords the bride
Be led to slavery.

The peasant sows, but never reaps;
He hungers evermore;
He eats his bread in bitterness,
And tastes of anguish sore.
Lo ! tears and blood together
Drop from his pallid face;
And these are our own brothers,
Of our own blood and race !

The forehead pure, the sacred veil
Of the Armenian maid,
Shall rude hands touch, and hell’s hot breath
Her innocence invade ?
They do it as men crush a flower,
By no compunction stirred;
They slaughter an Armenian
As they would kill a bird.

O roots of vengeance, heroes’ bones,
Who fell of old in fight,
Have ye all crumbled into dust,
Nor sent one shoot to light?
Oh, of that eagle nation
Now trampled by the Koord,
Is nothing left but black-hued crows,
And moles with eyes obscured?

Give back our sisters’ roses,
Our brothers who have died,
The crosses of our churches,
Our nation’s peace and pride !
O Sultan, we demand of thee
And with our hearts entreat —
Give us protection from the Koord,
Or arms his arms to meet!1



WHAT are you, love? A flame from heaven?
A radiant smile are you ?
The heaven has not your eyes’ bright gleams,
The heaven has not their blue.

The rose has not your snowy breast;
In the moon’s face we seek
In vain the rosy flush that dyes
Your soft and blushing cheek.

By night you smile upon the stars,
And on the amorous moon,
By day upon the waves, the flowers —
Why not on one alone?

But, though I pray to you with tears,
With tears and bitter sighs,
You will not deign me yet one glance
Cast by your shining eyes.

O love, are you a mortal maid,
Or angel formed of light ?
The spring rose and the radiant moon
Envy your beauty bright;

And when your sweet and thrilling voice
Is heard upon the air,
In cypress depths the nightingale
Is silent in despair.

Would I, a zephyr, might caress
Your bright brow’s dreams in sleep,
Breathe gently on your lips, and dry
Your tears, if you should weep !

Or would that in your garden fair
A weeping rose I grew;
And when you came resplendent there
At morning with the dew,

I’d give fresh color to your cheek
That makes the rose look pale,
Shed on your breast my dew, and there
My latest breath exhale.

Oh, would I were a limpid brook!
If softly you drew nigh,
And smiled into my mirror clear,
My blue waves would run dry.

Oh, would I were a sunbeam bright,
To make you seem more fair,
Touching your face, and dying soon
Amid your fragrant hair !

But, if you love another,
His gravestone may I be !
Then you would linger near me,
Your tears would fall on me ;

Your sighs would wander o’er me,
Sighs for his early doom.
To touch you, O beloved,
I must become a tomb !



IT was the hour of dew and light;
In heaven a conflagration cold
Of roses burned, instead of clouds ;
There was a rain of pearls and gold.

Then deep within a flowering grove
I saw thee, love, reclined at ease,
And thou wast languishing and pale,
And sighing like a summer breeze,

Plucking a blossom’s leaves apart
With fingers fair as lilies are ;
Thine eyes, the temples of love’s fire,
Were fixed upon the heavens afar.

I marvelled that thy fingers soft,
Wherein the haughty rose was pressed,
Had power to pluck her leaves away
And scatter them upon thy breast.

A strange new heaven shone within
Thine eyes, so dark and languishing;
A heaven where, instead of stars,
Arrows of fire were glittering.

Ah, thou hast made of me a slave
To one bright glance, one word of thine !
The rays thy soul sheds, cruel maid,
Become as fetters laid on mine.

Oh, leave my heart, from me depart!
I for my queen desire not thee ;
Thy breast is like the rose’s leaf,
Thy heart as granite hard to me,

Thou knowest naught, thou fragrant one,
Save wounds in tender hearts to make,
Happy when thine adorer’s breast
Bleeds in profusion for thy sake.

When, lonely in a grove’s deep shade,
I weep, and all my sad heart grieves,
Lo, thou art there! Thou findest me,
Thou speakest to me through the leaves.

When in the swift and shining stream
I seek oblivion of thy face,
Thou findest me, and from the waves
Thou smilest up with witching grace.

When to the rocks and mountains steep
To break my heart and lyre I flee,
Thou murmurest ever in the wind
That thou hadst never love for me.

I will embrace the frozen earth,
And hide from thee in dreamless sleep.
The dark grave is a virgin too ;
Is any other heart so deep ?



OUR two devoted hearts were joined and bound
By streaming rays, with heaven’s own light aglow;
We read each other’s souls like open books,
Where ’neath each word lay depths of love and woe.

Dost thou remember, on Mount Chamlajà,
In the dark cypress shade where mourners sigh,
How we two mused, and watched the Bosphorus,
Stamboul’s blue girdle, and the cloudless sky?

We sat in silence ; any uttered word
Would but have marred our souls’ infinity.
There like two flames we burned without a sound,
And shone upon each other, pale to see.

Like sad black moths that haunt the cypresses,
Our souls drank in the shadow and the gloom,
Drank endless sorrow, drank the dark-hued milk
Of hopelessness and of the silent tomb.

Deeply we drank, and long; but thou didst drain
The darksome cup that to thy lips was given,
Till thou wast drunken with it, and became
Thenceforth a pale and silent son of heaven.

Thy paleness grieved my soul; thy last faint look,
Turned on me ere thy spirit did depart,
Has fixed forevermore, O friend beloved,
The memory of thee in my aching heart.

Oh, art thou happy or unhappy there ?
Send me a message by an angel’s wing !
Tedious, alas ! and weary is this world,
Mother of griefs and bitter sorrowing.

If in that world there is a shady tree.
And a clear brook that softly murmurs near;
If there are found affection and pure love,
If the soul breathes a free, fresh atmosphere —

This very day would I put off this life,
This poor soiled garment should to dust return.
Ah, Vartan, answer! In the unknown land,
Say, hast thou found the things for which I yearn?


8. SHE

WERE not the rose’s hue like that which glows
On her soft cheek, who would esteem the rose?

Were not the tints of heaven like those that lie
In her blue eyes, whose gaze would seek the sky ?

Were not the maiden innocent and fair,
How would men learn to turn to God in prayer ?



SHE was alone. I brought a gift —
A rose, surpassing fair;
And when she took it from my hand
She blushed with pleasure there.

Compared with her, how poor and pale
The red rose seemed to be !
My gift was nothing to the kiss
My lady gave to me.



TO thirst with sacred longings,
And find the springs all dry,
And in my flower to fade, — not this
The grief for which I sigh.

Ere yet my cold, pale brow has been
Warmed by an ardent kiss,
To rest it on a couch of earth,—
My sorrow is not this.

Ere I embrace a live bouquet
Of beauty, smiles and fire,
The cold grave to embrace, — not this
Can bitter grief inspire.

Ere a sweet, dreamful sleep has lulled
My tempest-beaten brain,
To slumber in an earthy bed, —
Ah, this is not my pain.

My country is forlorn, a branch
Withered on life’s great tree ;
To die unknown, ere succoring her, —
This only grieveth me !



This poem and the next were written on successive days,
a short time before TOURIAN’S death.

FAREWELL to thee, O God, to thee, O sun,
Ye twain that shine above my soul on high!
My spirit from the earth must pass away;
I go to add a star to yonder sky.

What are the stars but curses of sad souls,—
Souls guiltless, but ill-fated, that take flight
To burn the brow of heaven ? They only serve
To make more strong the fiery armor bright

Of God, the source of lightnings ! But, ah me !
What words are these I speak? With thunder smite,
O God, and shatter the presumptuous thoughts
That fill me, — giant thoughts and infinite,

Thoughts of an atom in thy universe,
Whose spirit dares defy its mortal bars,
And seeks to dive into the depth of heaven,
And climb the endless stairway of the stars !

Hail to thee, God, thou Lord of trembling man,
Of waves and flowers, of music and of light!
Thou who hast taken from my brow the rose,
And from my soul the power of soaring flight;

Thou who hast spread a cloud before mine eyes,
And given these deathly flutterings to my heart,
And bidd’st me smile upon thee on the brink
Of the dark tomb, to which I must depart!

Doubtless thou hast for me a future life
Of boundless light, of fragrance, prayer, and praise ;
But, if my last breath here below must end
Speechless and mute, breathed out in mist and haze—

Ah, then, instead of any heavenly life
To greet me when my earthly span is o’er,
May I become a pallid lightning flash,
Cling to thy name, and thunder evermore !

Let me become a curse, and pierce thy side!
Yea, let me call thee “ God the pitiless ! ”
Ah me, I tremble! I am pale as death;
My heart foams like a hell of bitterness !

I am a sigh that moans among the sad,
Dark cypresses, — a withered leaf the strife
Of autumn winds must quickly bear away.
Ah, give me but one spark, one spark of life !

What! after this brief, transitory dream
Must I embrace for aye the grave’s cold gloom?
O God, how dark a destiny is mine I
Was it writ out with lees from the black tomb?

Oh, grant my soul one particle of fire !
I would still love, would live, and ever
Stars, drop into my soul! A single spark
Of life to your ill-fated lover give !

Spring offers not one rose to my pale brow,
The sunbeams lend me not one smile of light.
Night is my bier, the stars my torches are,
The moon weeps ever in the depths of night.

Some men there are with none to weep for them ;
Therefore God made the moon. In shadows dim
Of corning death, man has but two desires, —
First, life; then some one who shall mourn for him.

In vain for me the stars have written “ Love,”
The bulbul taught it me with silver tongue ;
In vain the zephyrs breathed it, and in vain
My image in the clear stream showed me young.

In vain the groves kept silence round about,
The secret leaves forbore to breathe or stir
Lest they should break my reveries divine ;
Ever they suffered me to dream of her.

In vain the flowers, dawn of the spring, breathed forth
Incense to my heart’s altar, from the sod.
Alas, they all have mocked me ! All the world.
Is nothing but the mockery of God!



YESTERDAY, when in slumber light and chill,
Drenched in cold sweats, upon my couch I lay,
While on my panting cheeks two roses burned
And on my brow sat mortal pallor gray,—

Then on my soul, athirst for love, there fell
My mother’s sobs, who wept beside my bed.
When I unclosed my dim and weary eyes,
I saw her tears of pity o’er me shed.

I felt upon my face my mother’s kiss,
A sacred last remembrance, on death’s shore ;
All her great sorrow in that kiss was breathed —
And it was I who caused her anguish sore !

Ah, then a tempest rose and shook my soul,
A storm of bitter grief, that blasts and sears ;
Then I poured forth that torrent dark. My God,
Forgive me ! I had seen my mother’s tears.



DEAR, I loved you when Armenia’s roses
Budded forth upon your forehead pale—
On the day those suns, your eyes, were hidden
Bashfully behind their lashes’ veil!

Freely the cool breeze your path may visit,
And the stars gaze on you without fear.
Only I, alone amid the shadows,
Tremble, hardly daring to draw near.

Like a breeze to-day you flee before me;
On my lyre your shade alone you throw;
Like a comet from afar coquetting,
While upon the air your gold locks flow.

Then the graveyard’s frozen trees all whisper
With the dead, beneath a cold wind’s breath;
Then my sad heart’s chords give back an echo
To their voice, an echo calling death.

But the light sound of your footstep echoes
Ever and forever in mine ears,
And my soul descends, with sobs and mourning,
Into an abyss of woe and tears!

Lights and sounds have died; no leaf now rustles;
Mute our hearts—no breath of word or kiss!
Kisses now and murmurs all are buried
In the starry heavens’ deep abyss.

Let the zephyr breathe upon its blossoms,
Let the stars look down upon the sea;
Let me too grow pale, if but once only,
When your ardent glance is cast on me!

When the crescent moon to the horizon
Blushing sinks on yonder mountain heights,
Then you vanish—then you walk no longer
There before the stars, the wind, the lights.

Like a breeze that stirs the leaves and shakes them,
So you stirred my heart’s depths, full of fire;
And you drew from out my throbbing bosom
Those keen cords of flame that make a lyre.

You walk forth when day is done, my darling,
When the starry night is cool and sweet.
Do you know how with your glance of magic
You consume my heart beneath your feet?


14. TO MAY

O VIRGIN, mother of the sweet spring flowers!
O lovely May, in shining blossoms clad!
Why bring you not the blossom of my soul
Among your many-colored flowerets glad?

Ah me! Another angel may there be,
The May of the soul’s flowers? Some happy day
Then may that angel come, and on my head
Shine with soft light—an infinite pale May!



WHEN Death’s pale angel stands before my face?
With smile unfathomable, stern and chill,
And when my sorrows with my soul exhale,
Know yet, my friends, that I am living still.

When at my head a waxen taper slim
With its cold rays the silent room shall fill,
A taper with a face that speaks of death,
Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.

When, with my forehead glittering with tears,
They in a shroud enfold me, cold and chill
As any stone, and lay me on a bier,
Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.

When the sad bell shall toll—that bell, the laugh
Of cruel Death, which wakes an icy thrill—
And when my bier is slowly borne along,
Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.

When the death-chanting priests, dark browed, austere,
With incense and with prayers the air shall fill,
Rising together as they, pass along,
Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.

When they have set my tomb in order fair,
And when, with bitter sobs and wailing shrill,
My dear ones from the grave at length depart,
Yet know, my friends, I shall be living still.

But when my grave forgotten shall remain
In some dim nook, neglected and passed by,—
When from the world my memory fades away,
That is the time when I indeed shall 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:

Petros Duryan's Biography
Russian translations of Duryan's poetry
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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