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The Literary Groong - 05/15/2002

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	By Diana Der Hovanessian


	The great Armenian epic,
	that was what I was working on.
	And when I would read segments
	to my students their eyes would fill
	with the deep secret of their past.
	It was like owning a huge gem
	we alone knew about. I polished it
	in a secret room. When the Turks
	hauled me out in April to my death
	they found the stone, still rough,
	and tossed it into the great fire.


	My greatest rhythms rolled out
	when I spoke, resurrecting my people's
	hopes. I told them to build muscle
	and break the ropes. And when I wrote
	I heard Narek breathe in my poems.
	Narek set the pace. For centuries
	our legacy. Yet so many children do not
	claim their inheritance, forbidden to learn
	their letters. Some wear his poems
	like talismans waiting to learn. I praise
	the words that link us stronger than blood.


	Older than one, the same age as the other,
	I outlived both only because
	I was in Jerusalem when the great crime came.
	Brothers, I write every day now,
	honing, honing, I rewrite and reshape.
	Poems have become my wife and children.
	Editorials are my letters home
	but to no address that I won. I write out
	the burden of having lived,
	the terrible burden of having survived.

	Copyright  2002 Diana Der Hovanessian

Diana Der Hovanessian is a Fulbright professor of American literature
at Yerevan State University in 1994 and 1999, she is author of 17
books and has published in American Scholar, Poetry, Harvard Review,
Nation, Paris Review, New Republic, and her poetry is regularly
published in the Christian Science Monitor. She has awards from the
Columbia Translation Center, P.E.N., Writers Union of America, and the
Writers Union of Armenia.

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