- 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"

MADAME SYBIL (Zabel Khanjian Assatour) was born in Constantinople in 1863. She began very early both to write and to do benevolent work. While yet a girl, she founded one of the best organizations of women in Turkish Armenia, for the purpose of starting schools for girls in the small towns. After fifteen years of good work, the society was suppressed by the government. It was re-established, through her efforts, after the new constitution was proclaimed in 1908. It was maintaining twenty schools when the massacres of 1915 began.
After the death of her first husband, she married Herant Assatour, a well-known literary man. Her work includes prose, poetry and translations.

1. The Incense
2. The Ideal
3. Tears


BEFORE the altar burns the fragrant incense;
Softly the silver censer sways and bows;
The columned smoke goes up, the cross encircling,
And with a mist anoints the saints’ white brows.

Infinite sighs of prayer and of entreaty
Under the vaults die slowly and are stilled;
Slowly the weeping flames of dim, faint tapers
Sigh, one by one, their eyes with pity filled.

Lo, a white veil, hard by the sacred column,
Trembles with sobs that shake a hidden frame;
In a white shadow wrapped, a heart is burning
Silently, like the incense, in a flame.

Out of the censer’s heart the incense passes,
Winding it rises toward the ether’s height.
Matter it was; the fire its life hath swallowed;
Now ‘tis but fragrance filled with colored light.

So, too, the grieving woman’s heart that burns there
Will not be freed from fetters and from fires
Until it melts, dissolves, etherealizes,
Wholly consumed by flames of pure desires.


IT is the moonlight, clear and soft, which soon the sun outshines—
A fiery dream, which pales before the morning’s stronger glow.
It is the springtime’s lightning flash, a splendor brief and bright;
A flower whose petals drop away when winds awake and blow.

It is a thorny rose, which draws red blooddrops from thine heart—
The delicate bright ribbon of the rainbow, o’er thee hung.
It is the purple Northern Lights that play in heaven’s blue dome—
The snowy foam that scatters when against the rock ’tis flung.

It is a feather pure and soft, blown from the swan’s white breast—
A sacred kiss beneath the sky, the open ether deep.
That which the wind, the atmosphere, the waters bear away
Is the Ideal—the lullaby sung to the soul asleep.

The virgin unapproachable, by showers of yearning sought,
The golden ring that binds us unto life, unto the real—
The agitating multitude of dazzling youthful dreams,
The love-song of the heart’s deep void—ah, this is the Ideal!


THERE are tears that fall in grief and sadness;
Slow and mournfully the cheek they stain,
Every drop a sob, a lamentation,
In its dew a throb of bitter pain.

There are other tears, bright, clear, untroubled,
Shining as the sun, untouched of care,
Like the violet rain, calm, cool, refreshing,
When the scent of earth is on the air.

There are tears all silent and mysterious,
From the soul’s love-yearning depths that steal;
They relate to us long tales of sorrow,
Buried loves which mourning veils conceal.

There are tears that seem to me like laughter—
Like clouds tempest-tossed, that roam for aye,
Flinging lightnings to the winds of ocean,
Drifting, mistlike, out and far away.

There’s a dry tear, burning, never falling—
Liquid flame, intense, consuming, dread—
Not to pass until the eyes are ashes,
And the mind is ruined too and dead.

Tears, I know you all, though ye be only
Memories of a past that sorrows fill.
Strong emotions, be ye blest forever!
’Tis through you my heart is living still.


See also:

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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