Armenian News Network / Groong

The Literary Groong - 12/11/2004

Redistribution of Groong articles, such as this one, to any other media, including but not limited to other mailing lists and Usenet bulletin boards, is strictly prohibited without prior written consent from
Groong's Administrator.
Copyright 2004 Armenian News Network/Groong. All Rights Reserved.


	By Yeghishe Charents,
	Translated by Ara Baliozian


	I - poet of Hayastan - 
	Fogbound land
	Haunted by death - 
	I now sing 
	To all!
	I sing
	Once more
	But why must I sing  alone?
	I, alone, and not they - 
	Who lived through and overpowered
	These rough stormy days.
	Under the sun, in the dust.
	On foggy days dripping wet.
	They strive, combat, and toil
	In the grime of the soil.
	And like sweat they flow
	On the face of the earth - 
	As the wind hurls them hither and thither
	And joins and mingles one with the other.
	You may not be aware 
	That every humble workman 
	That toils hard all day long - 
	Carries in his iron lungs
	A hundred, a thousand songs.
	If you weren't aware of this
	Hearken to my voice then,
	Open your ears wide!
	- For this world of ours
	They are the only true bards!
	And do you know what they sing?
	What they sing and fashion? - 
	Songs of steel they sing,
	Songs of fire and ardor.
	They sing - 
	And their song
	Towers over time
	Immense, secure - 
	Their song - 
	 The world - 
	Polytonal songs,
	Miraculous songs.
	Greetings, exalted companion!
	Why should I sing alone?
	Let all of them sing!
	To all, to all, to all!
	And why should he sing alone?
	He alone - Nairi's Boghos - 
	Why not Ivan, Yousuf, Chung-Fu?
	Who - brothers all under the skin -
	Have known each other for years.
	Haven't you heard? - 
	A Hun-yun from Tibet today
	Can fly to Rashid, Petrograd.  Tiflis
	Or, like a windswept autumn leaf
	A Garo - or Hugo for that matter - 
	Can fly and reach
	Marseilles,  Yerevan,  Tifllis,
	Peking,  Chicago,  Cairo.
	O, for some time now
	The earth has changed
	Into a short, tiny street
	Yes, for some time now
	From yellow-tinged Peking
	A Chung-Fu can extend his hand
	All the way to Nork and say:
	Comrade Boghos, good day!
	Why should he sing alone?
	Let all men burst into song.
	Let the whole world burst into song.
	And chant!
	And ring
	And carol!


	- July 1914, Yerevan-
	Astafian Street.
	On the road.
	Deep in thoughts,
	A workman, advances.
	Under the broiling sun.
	Weary and exhausted.
	He walks along.
	It is stifling hot.
	Summer.  High noon.
	The oppressive  air.
	The dusty road.
	Urged on by his thoughts
	Boghos hurries along.
	Heat and dust;
	Oppressive - as always.
	Everywhere - 
	Icy, water,
	People.  Carts.  People.
	And no one can guess
	That on Astafian Street now,
	A miracle will come to pass . . . . 
	And the miracle - it was very simple . . . 
	Suddenly a drop of sweat
	From the workman's forehead
	(As urged on by the heat he hurried along)
	Fell in the dust on the road.
	It fell and for an instant 
	Reflected the infinite space
	And the sun - a distant spark.
	And suddenly from that drop of sweat.
	That had fallen in the dust - 
	Countless armies rose!
	Immense,  audacious, fearless . . . .
	Soldiers by the million rose,
	Warriors of iron and bronze -
	Toilers all like Boghos
	Without hope, without arms.
	They suddenly rose
	From the dust of the road - 
	Fearless warriors by the million
	Mighty men at arms.
	Swords blazed and sabres shone,
	Brave voices burst into song,
	Red flags and crimson flags
	Flew and rippled with frenzy.
	It happened on Astafian Street
	Under the broiling hot sun
	As workman Boghos advanced
	His eyes fixed in the distance.
	No one,  but no one saw.
	It happened in a single instant.
	Then - the wheels of a cart crunched
	On the dusty,  oppressive road.
	(Let me explain this miracle
	By mentioning that
	Boghos was on his way 
	To see an old friend
	Who had spoken to him
	Of events of enormous import
	That were about to take place
	And that the hour of the great struggle
	Was . . . .)
	Astafian Street.
	Dormant repose.
	Dust in the eyes.
	A quiet. peaceful town.
	And "Ayi! Ayi! Ay!!"
	The braying
	Of an ass,
	To an ass,
	By an ass . . . .
	A drowsy ass.
	Like a pleasant dream - 
	Summer dust - 
	Yerevan . . . .
	. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
	And innkeeper Hamo
	Grumbled about the heat,
	Longing for the light,
	Sweet breeze of spring . . . .
	The world was a dusty road 
	Where lived
	A Hamo,
	A Garo,
	A Boghos.
	As in a dream Hamo saw
	In the sunny distant road
	Himself - Hamo
	Perched on the sun
	Feet dangling
	Humming a song . . . .
	And mentally counting
	- Eleven . . . . twelve . . . thirteen . . . . 
	The wine of the sun flows . . . 
	But business is slow . . . 
	Soon it will be evening - 
	And he will go home
	To return
	Once more
	On the morrow . . . .
	The sun will rise again,
	The heat will be oppressive
	And in that heavy torpor
	Will anyone ask
	For wine and liquor?
	Such were the dreams
	Of drowsy, weary Hamo;
	The world - a hot dusty, road,
	- Morning,
	And night . . . .
	Innkeeper Hamo's soul was blind
	To such things as miracles
	And when they came and said  "War!" -
	He did not budge and inch.
	He did not hear, or feel, or grasp.
	Was it like a wedding perhaps? - 
	Where red wine would flow and flow
	Without measure . . . . without end . . . .
	And when evening came
	And he rose to go home
	He heard everyone shout:
	- War. War! War!


	Did you hear?
	They rose - 
	Huge armies, ironclad.
	Did you hear?
	They rose-
	In battlefields
	Around the globe.
	They rose
	And they marched
	From the Urals to the Carpathians
	And from the Carpathians to Erzerum,
	And from Erzerum - to Tripoli and Rome.
	They came from all directions - 
	From New York they came,
	From the islands of Tahiti
	And from distant Baghdad -
	They came - 
	And they came
	Like windswept dust
	From London - Peking.
	Sarikamish - 
	Like dust they came 
	In a raging storm.
	And they roared - 
	"Vo-vo-vo - Vo-vo" -
	Dry-throated cannon - 
	"Vo-vo" - 
	And night.
	. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

	And it was thus
	Soldiers by the million
	Confronted one another -
	From Baghdad to Berlin.
	And from Berlin to Calais
	And Dover
	From many worlds
	And many shores
	From New York to Peking
	From the Urals to Milan.
	Thus it was 
	That the world mingled
	From one end to the other
	And entire cities of flesh
	Confronted one another.
	Under the broiling hot rays
	Of the nearby sun
	The earth seemed to rot
	Like a stinking carrion.
	Thus it was
	Didn't you hear?
	Didn't you see in your dark heart
	That thousands perished
	In a single black night.
	. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


	Astafian Street.
	Innkeeper Hamo in his chair.
	The road - toothless mouth
	Is now filled with refugees -
	On the wet sidewalks,
	Endless files of refugees.

	Thus it was 
	That innkeeper Hamo
	Longed for the light
	Sweet breeze of spring.
	And he thought:
	The Russians by now
	Must have reached Baghdad - 
	Have these people
	Escaped from Bitlis,
	From Mush, from Baghdad?
	Why are they here
	And not in Bitlis. Bassen - 
	Has not
	Invincible Antranik
	Marched  into Erzerum? . . . .
	With these thoughts in his head
	Hamo went home to relax
	As an orphan lay dying
	On the sidewalk by his inn.
	Thus it was.
	Innkeeper Hamo
	Did not even see Boghos,
	Now a soldier,
	Reach Paramushir . . . .
	And when business was slow
	To keep himself awake
	He sang again and again
	"My beloved Hairenik . . . ."
	. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 


	That is to say - Nairi.
	. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
	Crossroads of continents
	Where East and West meet
	Stands ancient Nairi -
	A blood-stained
	Question mark
	Like a dream
	Driven deep into past - 
	Is that not Nairi? . . . . .

	The days are flying 
	Days of fire -
	Flying fast . . . . 
	Shall I grasp your soul
	And hurl it
	like an iron disk - 
	Hurl it into the future . . . . 
	They are now 
	Re-building the world - 
	Re-building it
	Street by street - 
	A Muscovite workman
	By the name of  Ivan,
	A Chung-Fu,
	A Hans,
	A Boghos -
	. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


	Now - 
	Everywhere - 
	Can you hear?
	Bells ringing . . . . 
	Ringing with defiance!
	I tell you the world has become 
	A street of universal joy
	And a Chung-Fu from Peking
	Drinks and shouts
	-To your health, Boghos!
	And if my bright hopes
	Were to turn to ashes
	I shall continue to sing
	Hosannas to you 
	Mighty iron-brother!
	And if these days of fire
	Were to end in disaster
	I shall continue to sing - 
	Sing your glorious deeds
	I - a feeble
	Final voice . . . . 

YEGHISHE CHARENTS (1897-1937): The foremost poet of the Soviet era. He
completed his studies in Moscow and was greatly influenced by such
Russian writers as Pushkin and Mayakovsky. He produced with equal ease
lyric, rhapsodic, satirical and epic poems. He died as a victim of the
Stalinist purges.  __
Ara Baliozian was born in Athens, Greece and received his education
in Venice, Italy. He lives in Ontario, Canada and writes in
Armenian and English and has published over 20 books of his
works. He has translated works from Armenian writers, such as
Grigor Zohrab, Zabel Yessayan, and Kostan Zarian into English.

| Home | Administrative | Introduction | Armenian News | World News | Feedback