Eunomia · poetry

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Shat mart kose yis earimen hasrat’ im  Many men say I am yearning for my beloved.
Leyli-Mejloom el che es halov Even Medjloom of Leyla was never in such a state.
Mart piti hamasha beranet tndghe  One must always be careful with your mouth.
Khosk’ is asum arakavor-masalov You are speaking with fables and hints.

Lezoot kaghtsr’ unis shakar or shartin  You have a sweet tongue, sugar and honey.
Mazirt’ rehan e patetats’ vardin, Your hair is basil, wrapping around the rose.
Ki zardarats’ tesnim hit tsaghkazardin Let me look at you decorated at the flower festival,
Hagil elis zar-zarbaben khas alov Youwear silk with red satin.


Ea indzi kortsrek’, ea me ban arek’,   Either leave me or do something
Khpetsek’, me tighes me nshan arek’, Beat me, put a mark on me somewhere
Tekooz estoo hama karaspan arek’  If only for this, stone me to death.
Chim kshtanum gozali hit khosalov I am not satisfied with speaking with the beautiful one.


Ajab vonts’ dimanam yis eschap darin,  How can I take so much pain?
Achkemes artasunk’ doos goooka arin,  From my eyes come tears of blood.
Orn ir shabatov karot im earin,  Daily I am yearning for my beloved.
Vontsor gharib blbool vardin tisalov.  Like the wandering nightingale looking at the rose.


Khlkis tarav jadookarin chim tesi.  Whoever took my mind, I did not see the magician.
Bemurvatin, beighrarin chim tesi.  I didn’t see the ruthless and unfaithful one.
Sayat-Noven asats’ earin chim tesi.  Sayat Nova says, I didn’t see the beloved.
Man im gali artasunk’s husalov.  I am walking, pouring forth my tears.

Translated by Larison

At Eating Words, there has been some discussion of the merits of the compliments contained in the Song of Songs.  While these may not be the most evocative poetic references in the English-speaking world today (or perhaps at any time), it is possible to find Near Eastern love poetry using these sorts of images for centuries after this.  Comparison of women’s attributes to pomegranates, cedars or cypresses, for instance, is fairly common in what little traditional Armenian poetry I have seen.  The most bizarre compliment, and one that I can’t quite understand, is when Sayat Nova compares his beloved’s hair to basil.  This doesn’t strike me as a complimentary thing to say, but perhaps I am not being imaginative enough.

Gna, Blbool-Goosan Sheram (1906) 

Gna, blbool, trir gna
Es aryoonot ashkharen
Trir, blbool, el mi kena
Bazhanetsin kez varden

Go, nightingale, fly away 
From this bloody world.
Fly, nightingale, and do not stay…
They have separated you from the rose.

K’o sirekan siroon vardet
Kamin pchets choratsoots
Arnov ltsrats vardarant,
Ayginert pchatsoots.

The wind blew, drying
Your beloved beautiful rose…
Your rose garden is filled with blood,
Your gardens are ruined.

Arden eghav agravi tegh,
Estegh el vard chi batsvi,
Zoor mi voghba, kheghchook blbool,
Tsavert ar heratsir.

Already was the place of the crow,
Here also the rose will not open.
Do not lament in vain, miserable nightingale,
You escaped your pains.

Translated by Larison

Did you know that there was a book about Queen Shirin, the Armenian queen of Khusrau II?  Neither did I.  She is remembered in the Shahnameh of Firdausi, but her story is better remembered because of the poet Nezami’s treatment of her story.  Some of you may be more familiar with that widespread tradition of Shirin’s legendary idealised, tragic love affair with Fahrad, who lost Shirin to Khusrau when he was condemned by the king to carve stairs out of the cliffs of Behistun (the famous rockface into which Achaemenid and later Sasanian kings carved their monuments).  

Their story became part of the literary traditions of the Near East, central Asia and India.  (You can even pick up an echo of their story in the film Kama Sutra, which incidentally happens to star one of the great Bollywood heroine-actresses Rekha and was directed by the accomplished Mira Nair.)  Speaking of Bollywood, Shirin Fahrad (1956) is an Indian adaptation of the tale starring the great screen legend Madhubala, who also played the female lead in the masterpiece Mughal-E-Azam

The story of Fahrad and Shirin is one of those timeless stories of pure, unfulfilled love, and so serves as a natural reference for both the yearning of ghazals and the laments of the khagher of Sayat Nova, including one of his most memorable, Fahrad mirats Shirinn asats, which includes this nod to another famous pair of lovers:

Medjloomi nman man im gali, earen ervats im.

Like Medjloom I am wandering, I am grieved by my beloved.

Sayat Nova, like Shirin, laments because of the love that he cannot have:

Sayat Noven im, endoor goolam dardires arbab.

I am Sayat Nova, that’s why I cry, my griefs are unbearable.

Fahrad and Shirin appear again in another Sayat Nova poem, whose first line is Khabar gnats blbooli mot (The news went to the nightingale).  The poem is a dialogue between the nightingale and the rose, a common symbolic representation of the lover and beloved in this genre, and at one point the rose says:

The pick killed Fahrad, the dagger remains for you, Shirin.   


Oosti koo gas, gharib blbool,
Doo mi lats’ li, yis im laloo.
Doo vart ptre, yis gozalin.
Doo mi lats’ li, yis im laloo.

Whence are you coming, wandering nightingale?
You are crying, I will also cry.
You seek the rose, and I the beautiful one.
You are crying, I will also cry.

Ari blbool, khosi baren.
Okhnevi koo ekats’ saren.
Ki vartn erits’, indz im yaren.
Doo mi lats’ li, yis im laloo.

Come nightingale, tell me the word.
The mountain from which you came is blessed.
The rose burns you, my love burns me.
You are crying, I will also cry.

Man im gali didari hit,
Voonts’ gharib blbool khari hit.
Doo varti, yis yari hit.
Doo mi lats’ li, yis im laloo.

I am wandering with the picture,
Like the wandering nightingale with the insect.
You are with the rose, and I with my love.
You are crying, I will also cry.

Salbooi nman kananch im,
Ek, khosi, dzaynet chananch im,
Doo vart kanche, yis yar kanchim.
Doo mi lats’ li, yis im laloo.

I am green like the cypress,
Come, speak, I know your voice.
You call to the rose, I call to the beloved.
You are crying, I will also cry.

Gharib blbool, dzaynet maloom,
Yis oo doo ervink me haloom,
Sayat Noven asats’ zaloom,
Doo mi lats’ li, yis im laloo.

Wandering nightingale, your voice is miserable,
You and I are burning in the same way,
Sayat Nova said cruelly,
You are crying, I will also cry.

Translated by Larison

Dard mi ani, jan oo jigar, mitket divats’ chtesne
Achk khauri, angach khulana, yereset tats’ chtesne

Grieve not, my beloved, my soul, your mind will not look to the demons.
The eye grows dark, the ear grows deaf, your moist face will not see.

Voonts’ aregagen shughkhen tay, voonts’ lusinen loos ane.
Aval koo tesnoghen mirni, kiz glkhabats’ chtesne.

The sun will not give a ray, the moon will not make any light.  Let your viewer die first, he will not look at you bareheaded.

Doon glookhtet mahi koo tas, yis el kizit koo mirnim.
Mir ednen tamam askharhes sov kashe, hats’ chtesne.

You will give your head to death, and I, too, will die with you.  After us the entire world will suffer famine and will not see bread.

Tevoor chgam oo chtesnim, hazar babat ban kosis.
Kashva mart voonts’ gay, voonts’ khosi, voonts’ ki tkhrats’ chtesne.

If I do not come and I do not see, you will say a thousand different things.
I wish that man would not come, would not speak, would not see you grieving.

Astoodzoo bernemen arnis mkhitarich soorp hogin.
El vagh mirni Sayat Noven, chided gtsats chtesne.

You would take from the mouth of God the comforting holy spirit.
Sayat Nova lets you die unseasonably, he will not see your curved neck.

Translated by Larison

Doon en hoorin is, voor gemi koo zavte
Choonki indz zavtetsir khapov, nazani
Arivelk, arivmut, harav oo hyusis
Ch ka kizi nman chapov, nazani 

Shat mart koo eshkemen koo darna yizit
Ari me rahm ara, lav katsi mizit
Goozim te hamasha dam anim kizit
Santoorov, kamanchov, dapov, nazani

Dardires shatatsav asil im uzum.
Achkemes artasoonk hoosil im uzum.
Hamasha, yar, kizit khosil im uzum.
Sirtes che kshtanoom gapov, nazani

Hayaloo is adab unis, ar unis,
Dzirit dasta kapats soosanbar unis.
Toor indzi spane ikhtiar unis.
Henchak eli kenas bapov, nazani

Sayat-Noven asats arz anim Khanin.
Ghabool unim koo khatroo indz spanin.
Henchak eli, yar, gas im gerezmanin,
Atsis khoghen veres apov, nazani ~Sayat Nova

You are a nymph who seizes ahold of the ship,
Because you seized me with deception, graceful one.
East, West, South and North–
There is none like you, graceful one.

Because of love for you many men might be unfaithful.
Come, have pity on me, stay with us.
I would like that I will always be happy with you–
With the triangle, kamancha and tambourine, graceful one. 

My troubles increased–I want to speak.
I want to pour forth tears from my eyes!
Beloved, I always want to speak with you.
My heart is not satisfied with revelry, graceful one. 

You are decent, you have modesty–you have shame.
You have the marjoram with you I tied in a bouquet.
Kill me–you have the right!
Let it be thus, you will be faithful, graceful one. 

Sayat Nova said, I will petition the Khan.
I agree–they will slay me for your sake.
Let it be thus, beloved–you will come to my tomb.
With your palm you scatter earth on it, graceful one.  

Translated by Larison

The lines from the Nietzsche poem adapted by Mahler in his Third Symphony, which I heard performed brilliantly tonight, seem particularly appropriate for Mets fans tonight as they watched their team go down in the most painful fashion.  After the symphony, I caught the tail-end of the game as I had dinner in a nearby restaurant. 

Having given up a two-run HR in the top of the ninth, the Mets seemed set to make a comeback, though the odds were obviously against them.  The first batter made contact–a short blooper fell into center-right.  One man on.  Then a shot to left.  Two men on, still no outs.  Then, as I recall, a strikeout by Floyd, followed by Reyes flying out to center.  Then Wainwright walked Lo Duca, and the bases were loaded as Carlos Beltran came to the plate.  He got behind in the count, and then, as the tension mounted…he looked at a called third strike and the game was over.  What a way to go out.  To strike out looking is the most bitterly unsatisfying way to end a season.   

Again, again, the lousy Cardinals advance to the World Series (raise your hands if you are extremely tired of Tony La Russa).  But take heart, Mets fans–the Astros went down to a similar defeat in the ‘04 NLCS and came back the next year to get humiliated by the White Sox in four straight.  This, too, can be yours someday.

But let us be cheered by thoughts from Nietzsche:

Lust tiefer noch als Herzeleid!
Weh spricht: Vergeh!
Doch alle Lust will Ewigkeit!
Will tiefe, tiefe Ewigkeit!

So, for instance, in a place like Kansas-02, the Democrat already has 41 percent compared to the incumbent Republican’s 45 percent. The undecideds are probably too Republican for the Democrat to win, but still, the numbers aren’t lying right now. ~Chuck Todd (10/13/06)

Well, let us hope the appeal of Thomas Frank’s What’s The Matter With Kansas with the progressive crowd is now officially over.  If Jim Ryun is facing stiff competition this year in the supposedly benighted land of reaction that is Kansas, the world really is beginning to turn upside down.  If Ryun loses, do not expect a flurry of articles entitled, “Why Kansas Is Just Great!”  Expect more punditry along the lines of, “At last, those rubes saw the light!  Now we can get back to insulting their beliefs and way of life.”  What a fate: to have to choose between Khan and Sultan

Which reminds me of some lines of poetry from everyone’s favourite ashogh, Sayat Nova, which uses Khan and Sultan as forms of address for his beloved in one of his typically violent love songs (pardon the rough translation):

Ashkharooms akh chim kashi, kani vur jan is indz ama
(I’ll not cry alas, because you are dear to me.)
Anmahakan jrov like voske pnjan is indz ama
(A golden cup filled with immortal water you are to me.)
Nstim,  veres shvak anis zarbar veran is indz ama
(I sit, you cover me with shadow, you are silk to me.
Soochs imats’i, enents’ spane; Sultan oo Khan is indz ama
(You know my sin, so kill me; you are Sultan and Khan to me.) 

Kevin Jones has tracked down an online copy of The Traveller by Oliver Goldsmith, part of which I quoted from Kramnick’s book on Bolingbroke here.  The entire poem is worth reading, but these two parts most caught my attention:

Thine, Freedom, thine the blessings pictured here,

Thine are those charms that dazzle and endear:

Too blest indeed were such without alloy;

But fostered even by freedom, ills annoy.

That independence Britons prize too high,

Keeps man from man, and breaks the social tie;

The self-dependent lordlings stand alone,

All claims that bind and sweeten life unknown.

Here, by the bonds of nature feebly held,

Minds combat minds repelling and repellled;

Ferments arise, imprisoned factions roar,

Represt ambition struggles round her shore;

Till, over-wrought, the general system feels

Its motions stop, or frenzy fire the wheels.


O then how blind to all the truth requires,

Who think it freedom when a part aspires !

Calm is my soul nor apt to rise in arms,

Except when fast approaching danger warns:

But when contending chiefs blockade the throne,

Contracting regal power to stretch their own;

When I behold a factious band agree

To call it freedom when themselves are free;

Each wanton judge new penal statutes draw,

Laws grind the poor, and rich men rule the law;

The wealth of climes, where savage nations roam,

Pillaged from slave to purchase slaves at home;

Fear, pity, justice, indignation start,

Tear off reserve, and bare my swelling heart;

Till, half a patriot, half a coward grown,

I fly from petty tyrants to the throne. 

Bolingbroke saw the ideal political world as a “genuine” polity, a commonwealth where politics was part of a functional order carried on by the natural leaders of society.  In such an order government sprang from the patriarchal roots of the landed family, and public service was as much the duty and responsibility of heads of families and localities as was their care and control of the core family.  In the “genuine” polity, “the image of a free people” writes Bolingbroke, “is that of a patriarchal family, where the head and all the members are united by one common interest.”  Government was not yet an artificial function whereby men came together and rationally conceived laws.  A “genuine” order needed few laws, because the dealings of men were prescribed by time-honored codes of duty and honor.  In such a system, a much less clear-cut distinction between public and private relations existed because men in society were held together by the natural bonds of family, geography, and interest rather than by an artificial act which has brought together isolated individuals.  The order and links in God’s social structure had existed long before man, and thus, in Bolingbroke’s “genuine” polity, man’s entrance into society placed him among natural affiliations and natural relations to others, whether as governor or as governed, as relative or as neighbor.  The passing of this “genuine” order was described in a poem by one of the later nostalgic Tory poets, Oliver Goldsmith, author of the first full-length biography of Lord Bolingbroke and of The Deserted Village, the classic eighteenth-century literary rejection of the new order.  In The Traveller (1764), Goldsmith described the demise of a “genuine” political system.

As nature’s ties decay
As duty, love, and honour fail to sway,
Fictitious bonds, the bonds of wealth and law,
Still gather strength, and force unwilling awe. ~Isaac Kramnick, Bolingbroke & His Circle 

At length corruption, like a general flood
(So long by watchful Ministers, withstood)
Shall deluge all; and Avarice, creeping on,
Spread like a lowborn mist, and blot out the Sun;
Statesman and Patriot ply alike the stocks,
Peer and butler share alike the Box,
And Judges job and Bishops bite the Town,
And mighty Dukes pack cards for half-a-crown
See Britain sunk in lucre’s sordid charms; ~Alexander Pope, Moral Essays, Epistle III (lines 135-143)