Sunday, May 24, 2015

ՅԱՐՈՒԹ ԿՈՍՏԱՆԴԵԱՆ: ԿՌՈՒԻ ԵՐԹ

Արձակէ՛ք ցասումի ցուլերը կատաղի,
Թող պոռթկայ զայրոյթը մեր արեան,
Որ հնչենք յաղթական որպէս հու՛ր ծիծաղի՝
Շանթահար հանդիպենք երբ մահուան...։
Նժոյգները վրէժի վրնջում են արդէն
Մեր հոգում շեփորներ խելագար...
Զերթ արծիւ արձակէ՛ք դրօշներ հրեղէն --
Թող ծփա՜յ մեր արիւնն հողմավար.
Որոտում են գրոհի թմբուկները ահեղ.
Շիկացած բարկութիւնը մեր հի՛ն՝
Թող անսանձ արշաւէ,-- շանթերի բորբ հեղե՛ղ
Շառաչեն թող կրքեր մոլեգին։
Արձակէ՛ք ցասումի ցուլերը կատաղի,
Թող պոռթկայ զայրոյթը մեր արեան,
Որ հնչենք յաղթական որպէս հու՛ր ծիծաղի՝
Շանթահար հանդիպենք երբ մահուան...։

ՅԱՐՈՒԹ ԿՈՍՏԱՆԴԵԱՆ

«Բանաստեղծութեամբ», 1974, Պէյրութ

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Հայկանուշ Մարք։ Ինչպէ՞ս

Ինչպէ՞ս սիրեմ զքեզ, սիրելիս

Որ սէրս ելլայ միշտ տեւական ու տարբեր,
Ինչպէ՞ս սիրեմ զքեզ, իմ հոգիս,
Ոը նմանը չըրած ըլլան ուրիշներ …։
Ինչպէ՞ս, ըսէ՛, երազեմ քեզ որ յոգնած
Չծանրանան աչքերս արթուն ու ցած
Ձայներն չվրդովեն հանգիստ - խուն
Եըբ մտնեմ քուն ։
Ինչպէ՞ս գգուեմ զքեզ սէրովս րոլոր,
Որ նախանձին սիւքերը, ծիլերն ալ ոլոր ,
Ինչպէ՞ս կազմեմ տարրերը սիրոյս կրակին
Որ հոն բոլոր իղձերս ալ բոբբոքին:
Ինչպէ՞ս ըսեմ թէ չաստուած մ՛ես դուն կամ անկէ

Աւելի վեր,
Հոգի մը վառ կրակէ,
Անձնուէր…
Ինչպէ՞ս սակայն ինչպէ՞ս սիրեմ քեզ, անոյշ սիրական

Որ սա խենդ սերս ըլլայ յաւէտ տեւական։

«Լոյս» 1904, թ. 19

Հայկանուշ Մարք (1883-1966)




Friday, May 22, 2015

Tekeyan Cultural Association of Greater NY presents a literary evening dedicated to Daniel Varoujan




The event will be held Friday, May 29, 2015 at 7:30pm, at the TCA Center, 560 Sylvan Ave, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. RSVP required. Free admission. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nancy Kricorian: Letter to Palestine (With Armenian Proverbs)

In a foreign place, the exile has no face.

You wake up in the morning and forget where you are. The smell of coffee from the kitchen. The sound of slippers across the linoleum floor. It could be any country.

When you look in the mirror you see the eyes of your grandfather. He expects something from you, but he won’t tell you what.

Better to go into captivity with the whole village than to go to a wedding alone.

The fabric was torn. With scraps you have made a tent, you have fashioned a kite, you have sewn a dress, you have wrapped yourself in a flag.

They have separated you with gun, grenade, barbed wire, wall, prison, passport. They have underestimated your will.

The hungry dream of bread, the thirsty of water.

Passing from one village to the next, without obstacle, without document, without your heart thumping up near your throat.

Turning the key in the lock, you enter through a door you have never passed through before except in your grandmother’s stories and in your dreams.


Nancy Kricorian

First published in Clockhouse Review, Volume 2, 2014.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Լեւոն Դռնոյեան։ Գրիգոր Խանջեանի «Վարդանանքի» առջեւ


Krikor Khandjian (1926-2000) "Vartanank" - Pastel 5.4 x 6.75 m - Etchmiadzin - Armenia


ԳՐԻԳՈՐ ԽԱՆՋԵԱՆԻ «ՎԱՐԴԱՆԱՆՔ»Ի ԱՌՋԵԻ

Խաղաղաթիւն է մեր Հայրենիքում
Արեւն է ժպտում հողին հայրենեաց 
Ահա զաւակիս սեղմած իմ գրկում 
Կանգնած եմ նորից Վարդանանց  դիմաց։

Ինչու՞ քնեցիր, զաւակ իմ միակ,
Արթնացիր, իմ յոյս, արթնացի՛ր, անգին
Այս սուրր դէմքերից ցայտում է կրակ 
Եւ հասնում է քեզ, հասնում ամէնքին։

Արթնացի՛ր, գրուի՚ր Վարդանանց զինուոր
Որ Հայրենիքին մեր չիջնի խաւար– 
Մեր պատմութիւնը այս է դարաւոր՝
Անվերջ, անվախճան մի մեծ Աւարայր։

Զինուորներն ահա մեր անխոցելի՝
Ոգու մեծերը՝ անցած դարերից,
Մի վերին կամքով խմբուել են ի մի
Եւ Աւարայրը թնդում է նորից։

Նարեկն է խօսում մեր Աստծոյ հետ
Զարենցն է կանչում՝ անու՜շ Հայաստան,
Եւ Վարուժանը՝ վերադարձած ետ
Լուծում է վրէժ հեթանոսական։

Այդ դէմքերի մէջ՝ հաւատով շնչող՝ 
Ես մելամաղձոտ դէմքեր եմ տեսնում
Պատանի հոգում՝ մեղմ ու երազող
Ապագայ երգի պտուղն է հասնում։

Այդպէս եղել է, այդպէս կը լինի՝
Կռուի դաշտերում չենք կոշտանում մենք-
Սուրն ամէնազօր՝ խօսքն է հայրենի
Վահանը անխոց՝ ոգու գանձը մեր։

Իսկ հիմա, որդիս, արթնացի՛ր քնից 
Բաւ է անխռով մնաս դու քնած
0՜, մի՛ ուշացիր քո Աւարայրից՝ 
Վասն Հաւատոյ, Վասն Հայրենեաց...


ԼԵԻՈՆ ԴՌՆՈՅԵԱՆ
Երեւան, Բժիշկ-սրտաբան

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Commemorating the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-2015 at St. Mark's Bookshop

Commemorating the Centenary of the Armenian Genocide, 1915-2015 

Tuesday May 26, 2015 at 7:00pm 

Armenian-American writers commemorate the lives of Armenian writers who were deported, killed or survived the Armenian Genocide by reading a selection of their work.

With Lola Koundakjian, Alan Semerdjian, Aaron Poochigian, 
Sweta Srivastava Vikram, Aida Zilelian, Alina Gregorian, 
Arto Vaun, George Wallace, and, Arthur Nersesian

St. Mark's Bookshop
136 East 3rd St (at Ave A)
New York, NY 10009
(212) 260-7853
stmarksbooks@gmail.com
MTA: F to 2nd Ave, M14A to 3rd St.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte reading Shushanik Kurghinian

Click to hear the audio segment

Pierre Joris and Nicole Peyrafitte - photo by Khatchik Turabian

I Want to Live


I want to live–but not a lavish life 
trapped in obscurity–indifferent and foolish, 
nor as an outright hostage of artificial beauty, 
a frail creature–delicate and feeble, 
but equal to you–oh men–prosperous 
as you are–powerful and headstrong– 
fit against calamities–ingenious in mind, 
with bodies full of vigor.
I want to love–unreserved–without a mask– 
self-willed like you–so that when in love 
I can sing my feelings to the world 
and unchain my heart–a woman’s heart, 
before the crowds?ignoring their stern 
judgmen’s with my shield and destroy 
the pointed arrows aimed at me 
with all my vitality unrestrained!
I want to act–equal–next to you– 
as a loyal member of the people, 
let me suffer again and again–night or day– 
wandering from one place to another– 
always struggling for the ideal 
of freedom?and let this burden 
torment me in my exile, 
if only I may gain a purpose in this life.
I want to eat comfortably–as you do, 
from that same fair bread–for which 
I gave my share of holy work; 
in the struggle for existence–humble and meek, 
without feeling shame–let me 
shed sweat and tears for a blessed earning, 
let scarlet blood flow from my worker’s hands 
and let my back tire in pain!
I want to fight–first as your rival, 
standing against you with an old vengeance, 
since absurdly and without mercy you 
turned me into a vassal through love and force. 
Then after clearing these disputes of my gender, 
I want to fight against the agonies of life, 
courageously like you–hand in hand, 
facing this struggle to be or not.


I PITY YOU

I pity you, dull-witted women,
for chasing after rouge and beauty aids,
wasting away your time without a goal,
with faces adorned for lewd sale.

For using any possible means to
always please and gratify men,
day and night obsessing only
how to set traps of jealousy.

For robbing those who love you
of their last penny earned in pain,
at times of distress, callous and low
like owls you hoot, playing the victim.

For having a subtle instinct of marketing,
selling yourselves for the highest price,
bickering endlessly over style, appearance,
a circus show of fashion rivalry.

I pity you, vain captives, whose
thoughts are lost in folds of velvet
for having minds that are utterly vacant,
for having hearts that are tainted with deceit.

WE ARE THE ONES COMING—

In our worn out jackets, oil-stained and sooty,
Trampled caps and dirty hair,
Jaundiced, poor, barefoot,
Sometimes pale, sometimes docile,
Sometimes marked with the black stamp
Of hunger and quiet suffering,
Sometimes filled with riotous disdain,
Unruly rage and vengeance!
With the wearisome pain of aging too soon,
Longing for the light and fresh air,
Hopeful for a dignified life,
With deep wounds still raw in our hearts—
WE ARE THE ONES COMING . . !
……………………We, the workers—
Unpaid hands toiling for the bloated stomachs,
Layers of fat, mounds of gold . . !
……………………We, the workers—
Comrades in sorrow and tears,
Half-starved life, prison, and exile . . !
……………………We, the workers—
Twisted in the drive to live and cheaply sold
In the base marketplace of existence . . !
O monstrous leeches,
Vile stranglers of invention, of human life,
You, insensible moles
With your corrupt lust for opulence,
You, shameful gravediggers and
Hangmen of sacred freedom,
You, soul-snatching demons of new hopes,
……………………You, sated bodies!
Impoverished souls!
Perhaps our afflicted faces
Aren’t moving enough for your gentle senses?
For isn’t it true that
……………………You feed yourselves,
……………………You prosper and grow
From every drop of our blood,
Our salty, bitter sweat,
Our endless flood of tears,
Our strong, laboring arms,
Our bent backs, restless souls,
Our terror of unimagined death
Always lurking above our heads . . ?
And disgruntled you throw a few petty crumbs
As payment for our labors,
As if we were humanity’s stepchildren
And you—the fittest wrestlers of enjoyment
……………………And unjust life . . !
YES! WE ARE COMING—
Out of the age-old furnace of privation
Out of persecution, out of slavery,
……………………We, the neglected class—
To smash the rulers’ glory with our chests—
To break the throne of violence—the slave’s chains—
To build a new path for ourselves and others
Deserving of freedom—
……………………THAT’S HOW WE ARE COMING . . !

1907. All poems translated by Shushan Avagyan

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Aaron Poochigian reading Daniel Varoujan


Aaron Poochigian - photo by Khatchik Turabian
ALMS

TO THE STARVING PEOPLE.

“There is famine; bread, bread !”
Who is sighing?
On the threshold of my cottage, who is sighing?
My love has gone out, with the flame in my fireplace.
Ashes within me, ashes around me; oh, of what use is it
To sow tears on ashes?
I have nothing, nothing! To-day, with my last
Small coin I bought poison;
I shall mix poison within me.
Come to-morrow to the graveyard, thou Hungry One,
Through the storm, early, when around the village
Wolves are still wandering.
Come to-morrow! As bread, from my grave
I will throw into that bag of thine
My poet’s heart.
My poet’s heart shall be thy blood, the blood of thy orphans,
As long as thy grief lives.
Come to-morrow to the graveyard, O thou Hungry One!

Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell


The Longing Letter

My mother writes: “My son on pilgrimage, 
How long beneath a strange moon will you roam?
How long a time must pass ere your poor head
To my warm bosom I may press, at home?
“Oh, long enough upon strange stairs have trod
Your feet, which in my palms I warmed one day—
Your heart, in which my breasts were emptied once,
Far from my empty heart has pined away!
“My arms are weary at the spinning wheel;
I weave my shroud, too, with my hair of snow.
Ah, would mine eyes could see you once again,
Then close forever, with my heart below!
“Always I sit in sadness at my door,
And tidings ask from every crane that flies.
That willow slip you planted long ago
Has grown till over me its shadow lies.
“I wait in vain for your return at eve.
All the brave fellows of the village pass,
The laborer goes by, the herdsman bold—
I with the moon am left alone, alas!
“ My ruined house is left without a head.
Sometimes for death, and always for the cheer
Of my own hearth I yearn. A tortoise I,
Whose entrails to its broken shell adhere!
“Oh, come, my son, your ancient home restore!
They burst the door, they swept the larders bare.
Now all the swallows of the spring come in
Through shattered windows, open to the air.
“ Of all the goodly flocks of long ago
One brave ram only in our stable stands.
His mother once—remember, little son—
While yet a lamb, ate oats out of your hands.
“Rice, bran and clover fine I give him now,
To nourish his rich dmak,* of noble size;
I comb his soft wool with a wooden comb;
He is a dear and precious sacrifice.
“When you come back, his head with roses wreathed,
He shall be sacrificed to feast you, sweet;
And in his blood, my well-beloved son,
I then will wash my pilgrim’s weary feet.”

_____________________ 
* A mass of fat which hangs down behind sheep of this breed, in place of a tail.

Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Sarah van Arsdale reading Rouben Sevak

Click to hear the audio segment

Sarah Van Arsdale - photo by Lola Koundakjian

Whisper Of Love

They sailed away, loaded with mystery and secrets,
The ships of my love sailed away from my gaze,
Their prows high, facing dark and distant shores,
And their sails drunken with the warm sunset breeze.
And I saw how, like ancient and beautiful goddesses,
In their immaculate sanctity, pure as snow,
Wings high, like pilgrims to unknown lands,
The swans of my love silently glided away.
It is evening. I am watching the immense flow,
The sea-breeze is quietly recounting the happy memories
And the boundless waters are rising with an ineffable mystery.
In front of me, gravel and foam are kissing on the shore,
I am looking at the distant horizon beyond which
The ships of my love and the swans of my dreams have silently glided away.
They sailed away, loaded with mystery and secrets…

Rouben Sevak
Translation by Berge Turabian

Friday, May 15, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Peter Bricklebank reading Rouben Sevak

Click to hear the audio segment

Peter Bricklebank and Sarah Van Arsdale 
Photo by Lola Koundakjian


Edelweiss

On my wall, wordless, pale, 
covering an unseen nail 
its freshness evaporates 
as it wilts and browns,

its petals gradually fade 
losing its delicate 
bouquet. What ill wind 
brought it down

from the mountains 
to this fate of 
crumbling pistils 
drooping crowns

as the coiled petals dry, 
unclasping to velvet ash?

But still it keeps 
the unreached heights 
of my dreams in its white 
heart of edelweiss.

ROUBEN SEVAK



*A small white herb growing high in the Alps whose name in Armenian is Lion's Paw. It is the symbol for freedom in Austrian and Armenian poetry. Roupen Sevag recovered in the Alps from tuberculosis contracted as a medical student.

From Poetry of  our Time

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Lola Koundakjian reading Rouben Sevak

Click to hear the audio segment

Lola Koundakjian - photo by Khatchik Turabian

ԳԻՆՈՎ ԳԻՇԵՐ

Օդին մէջ խունկ կայ, օդին մէջ համբոյր,
Օդին մէջ գգուանք, օդին մէջ գաղջ բոյր.
Բի՜ւր, բիւր դիցանոյշ կարծես շշնջեր
Ջորսդիս, այս գիշեր օդին մէջ ինչե՜ր…։

Ցայգին մէջ թրթռում մը կայ անդադրում,
Սիրոյ պէս հըզօր, սիրոյ պէս տրտում,
Հազար աստղ կարծես մէկ-երկու պաչեր
Վերեւս, այս գիշեր երկնքին մէջ ինչե՜ր…։

Լիճն արծաթ փրփրով վե՜ր կը սլանայ,
Ամէն ալեակէ մէկ-մէկ սիրենա
Ինձ կախարդ հրաւէր կարծես շշնջեր .-
Այս գիշեր լճիս ծոցին մէջ ինչե՜ր…։

Ա՜խ, տաք սիրտ մ՛ըլլար, երկու թաց աչեր,
Գլուխըս սիրոյ կուրծքին վրայ հանգչէր.
Թեւերս իր մերթ թեւին վրայ խաչէր…
Այս գիշեր գինո՜վ սրտիս մէջ ինչե՜ր…։


ՌՈՒԲԷՆ ՍԵՒԱԿ, ԵՐԿԵՐ, 1986, Antelias, Lebanon

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Vasyl Makhno reading Paruyt Sevak in Ukrainian

Click to hear the audio segment


photo by Khatchik Turabian

Vasyl Makhno read an excerpt from Paruyr Sevak's "The Unsilenceable Belfry" in Ukrainian. 


Vasyl Makhno is a Ukrainian poet, essayist, and translator. He is the author of ten collections of poetry: Skhyma (1993), Caesar’s Solitude (1994), The Book of Hills and Hours (1996), The Flipper of the Fish (2002), 38 Poems about New York and Some Other Things (2004), Cornelia Street Café: New and Selected Poems (2007), Winter Letters (2011), I want to be Jazz and Rock’n’Roll (2013) and most recent Bike (2015). He has also published two book of essays The Gertrude Stein Memorial Cultural and Recreation Park (2006) and Horn of Plenty (2011), and two plays Coney Island (2006) and Bitch/Beach Generation (2007). He has also translated Zbigniew Herbert’s and Janusz Szuber’s poetry from Polish into Ukrainian, and edited an anthology of young Ukrainian poets from the 1990’s. His poems and essays have been translated into 25 languages. Two poetry collections Thread and Other New York Poems (2009) and Winter Letters (2011) were published in English translation. He is the 2013 recipient of Serbia’s Povele Morave Prize in Poetry. Makhno currently lives in New York City.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Sweta Vikram reading Tekeyan and Komitas

Click to hear the audio segment

Sweta Vikram - photo by Khatchik Turabian



IRAINS, MSON…
It rains, my son… Autumn is wet,
Wet as the eyes of a sad deceived love…
Go, shut the window and the door
And come sit beside me in stately
Silence… It is raining, my son…
Does it at times rain in your soul as well?
Does your heart feel cold and do you shiver
Thinking of the bygone bright sunshine
Now beyond the shut door of dire fate…?
But, you cry, my son… In the dusk, sudden
Heavy tears tumble down your eyes…
Cry the unredeemable tears of innocence,
Cry oblivious, my sad unaware son,
You poor prey of life… Cry to grow up…
……………………Vahan Tekeyan
Translated by Tatul Sonentz

TO THE READER

My soul belongs to me no matter how I offer pieces,
on every page to strangers passing by.
My soul belongs to me. No one can recognize it whole
with its formidable darkness and blinding lights.

Like the unstripped mine for gold, coal, or perhaps lead,
the dredging has bared only the first layer
of joys, and the black floodwaters of pain.
A deeper volcano rumbles underneath it all.

My soul is that mine, only partially excavated.
Who knows how many new pains will burrow
and shaft, blast by blast? It belongs to me.

Today I regret that so many samples were passed
to onlookers when I intended all the while
to give it whole, to only one or two. 


Sacred Wrath: The Selected Poems of Vahan Tekayan, translated by Diana Der Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian. Ashod Press, NY, 1982



THE PATH by Komitas
The narrow path crawling,
Shivering underneath the feet,
At the end of which
The Tree of Life has grown, shimmering...
What a big heart it has
This road to Eternity
This path for people, plants and beasts alike,
This path of winged birds...


translated by Mher Karakashian

Monday, May 11, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Alan Semerdjian reading Siamanto

Click to hear the audio segment

Alan Semerdjian - photo by Khatchik Turabian

The Dance
by Siamanto (Atom Yarjanian 
1878-1915).
(Translated by Peter Balakian and Nevart Yaghlian)

In a field of cinders where Armenian life
was still dying,
a German woman, trying not to cry
told me the horror she witnessed:

"This thing I'm telling you about,
I saw with my own eyes,
Behind my window of hell
I clenched my teeth
and watched the town of Bardez turn
into a heap of ashes.
The corpses were piled high as trees,
and from the springs, from the streams and the road,
the blood was a stubborn murmur,
and still calls revenge in my ear.

Don't be afraid; I must tell you what I saw.
so people will understand
the crimes men do to men.
For two days, by the road to the graveyard …

Let the hearts of the world understand,
It was Sunday morning,
the first useless Sunday dawning on the corpses.
From dawn to dusk I had been in my room
with a stabbed woman —
my tears wetting her death —
when I heard from afar
a dark crowd standing in a vineyard
lashing twenty brides
and singing filthy songs.

Leaving the half-dead girl on the straw mattress,
I went to the balcony of my window
and the crowd seemed to thicken like a clump of trees
An animal of a man shouted, "You must dance,
dance when our drum beats."
With fury whips cracked
on the flesh of these women.
Hand in hand the brides began their circle dance.
Now, I envied my wounded neighbor
because with a calm snore she cursed
the universe and gave up her soul to the stars …

"Dance," they raved,
"dance till you die, infidel beauties
With your flapping tits, dance!
Smile for us. You're abandoned now,
you're naked slaves,
so dance like a bunch of fuckin' sluts.
We're hot for your dead bodies."
Twenty graceful brides collapsed.
"Get up," the crowed screamed,
brandishing their swords.

Then someone brought a jug of kerosene.
Human justice, I spit in your face.
The brides were anointed.
"Dance," they thundered —
"here's a fragrance you can't get in Arabia."

With a torch, they set
the naked brides on fire.
And the charred bodies rolled
and tumbled to their deaths …

I slammed my shutters,
sat down next to my dead girl
and asked: "How can I dig out my eyes?"

Siamanto, Bloody News from My Friend, Wayne State University, 1996.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Marianela Medrano reading Vahan Tekeyan

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Marianela Medrano - photo by Khatchik Turabian

"Forgetting" by Vahan Tekeyan

Forgetting. Yes, I will forget it all.
One after the other. The roads I crossed.
The roads I did not. Everything that happened.
And everything that did not.

I am not going to transport anymore,
nor drag the silent past, or that "me"
who was more beautiful and bigger
that I could ever be.

I will shake off the weights
thickening my mind and sight,
and let my heart see the sun as it dies.

Let a new morning's light open my closed eyes.
Death, is that you here? Good Morning.
Or should I say Good Dark?

Translated by Diana Der Hovanessian and Marzbed Margossian

OLVIDANDO

Olvidar. Sí, voy a olvidarlo todo.
Uno tras otro. Los caminos que crucé.
Los que no crucé. Todo lo que pasó.
Y todo lo que no viví.

Ya no voy a transportar más,
ni arrastrar el pasado silencioso, o ese "yo"
que era más bello y más grande
de lo que nunca podré ser.

Voy a sacudir todas las cargas 
que entorpecen mi mente y la vista,
y dejar que mi corazón vea el sol mientras muere.

Y dejar que la luz de una nueva mañana abra mis ojos cerrados.
Muerte, ¿estás aquí? Buenos Días.

¿O debería decir Buena Oscuridad?

Translated from the English by Marianela Medrano

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: George Wallace reading Daniel Varoujan

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George Wallace - photo by Khatchik Turabian

Working Girl



BENEATH my window, as each morning dawns,
You like a wandering ghost go flitting by, 
And on your beauteous virgin head there fall
Tears from my rose vine, leafless now and dry.

I hear your footsteps in the silent street,
And the awakened dog that barks at you;
Or in my sleep I hear the constant cough
That racks your lovely bosom through and through.

I think that you are hungry, robbed of sleep,
Your body shivering in the breezes cold,
And on your tresses, O my sister! Lies
The frost, like jewels, glittering to behold.

Or else, I think, your shoes are torn and rent;
The water from the street is oozing through;
Or impudently, as you pass along,
Some scoundrel Turk is whistling after you.

I think that ill at home your mother lies,
And that the oil which fed the lamp is dry,
And to the factory you go, to toil
For light and life. I think of it, and sigh!

I think of it, and madly then I wish
I might come down, my pallid sister dear,
Come down to you, to kiss your thin, frail hand,
And whisper low, "I love you!" in your ear.

I love your sorrow, which is mine as well-
My grief of griefs, all other woes above;
I love your shattered breast, where still your love
Sings on and on-a skylark wild with love.

Pale girl, I long to press you to my heart
Like some poor banished dove, forlorn and lone-
Give you my strength, my prizes won from fame,
And my untarnished name to be your own.

Fain would I be your honor's veil and screen,
My breast a shield for your defenceless breast.
If I could guard, with arms as granite strong,
Your sex and your grave beauty, I were blest!

Fain would I give you all that I have won
In life's hard struggle, all I have of good-
Crown you with roses of my victory,
Roses that wear the color of my blood;

Only that never more, my sister dear,
You should be pale and hungry, coughing sore,
And that your mother's lamp should not go out,

And to the factory you should go no more!

Based on the translation by Alice Stone Blackwell 

ANDASTAN

At the Eastern part of the earth
Let there be peace…
Let sweat, not blood, flow
In the broad vein of the furrow,
And at the toll of each hamlet’s bell
Let there rise hymns of exaltation.

At the Western part of the earth
Let there be fecundity …
Let each star sparkle with dew,
And each husk be cast in gold
And as the sheep graze on the hills
Let bud and blossom bloom.

At the Northern part of the earth
Let there be abundance …
In the golden sea of the wheat field
Let the scythe swim incessantly
And as gates of granaries open wide
Jubilation let there be.

At the Southern part of the earth
Let all things bear fruit…
Let the honey thrive in the beehive
And may the wine run over the cups
And when brides bake the blessed bread
Let the sound of song rise and spread.

Daniel Varoujan 1914

Translated by Tatul Sonentz

Friday, May 08, 2015

Live from Holy Cross: Nancy Agabian reading Zabel Essayan



Nancy Agabian- photo by Khatchik Turabian

In the Ruins (excerpt)

Two children had gone off by themselves and were talking.
"Do you have a father?"
"No."
"A mother?"
"No."
"I don't have a mother or father, either."
"Did they kill them?"
"Yes."
"They killed mine, too."
A long, grief-stricken silence reigned, and then:
"Do you want us to be brothers?"
And they adopted each other.

That was the general tenor of the conversations of hundreds of children between five and ten. Sometimes, too, brothers and sisters found each other again and rediscovered, in one another's eyes, the hours of terror they had spent together and did not dare come closer, as if held apart by the awful memory of the corpse of a butchered mother or father. For, almost without exception, driven by an instinctive passion for life, they wanted to forget, wanted desperately, frantically to forget; thus they saw an enemy in anyone who tried to expose the passions of their bleeding hearts, or simply stirred up the memory of that hour by his or her presence.


One evening I expressed a desire to visit the children after they had gone to bed, and was ushered to their dormitory. A terrible, unforgettable sight met my eyes. In that spacious hall, on mats arranged in rows on the floor, was a welter of young, half-naked limbs. . . . Because there wasn't enough room for all of them, the children seemed to be piled up on each other. What with their breathing and all their other exhalations, the air was stifling and unbreathable. Something unnameable, something nightmarish and unsettling drifted through the semi-obscurity. The children's bodies were indistinguishable from the blackness of the sheetless beds; only the outlines of their limbs could be made out here and there, an arm, a leg. . . . Those rooms seemed as sad to me as desecrated, devastated graveyards.

Sometimes one of the children, prompted by a bad dream, would raise his head and look right and left, shuddering. One cry of his would be enough to throw all those shapeless, almost undifferentiated piles into agitated motion and, sometimes, uneasy heads would be lifted here and there. In the first few days, it sometimes happened that the ravings of one of the children rattled all the others sleeping in the same room; Still hall asleep, not knowing where they were, they would all jump to their feet screaming, in the belief that they were reliving the hours of the massacre.

Although I had resolved to maintain my sangfroid, I was deeply shaken by that throng of children, deprived of affection and a mother's love and care. ... I decided to leave so that we wouldn't disturb their sleep with our presence. Some were sighing, and all had woken up and were casting uneasy glances our way....

We were getting ready to leave when I noticed a little slip of a girl almost directly at my feet. Two bright, unblinking eyes were looking at me. Her blond hair was strewn over the pillow, and her emaciated neck and emaciated arms and legs spoke of such severe mental and physical suffering that I lost control of myself, and started to cry. And, although I managed to stifle my sobs, the children heard me and woke up. For an instant, a strange stillness prevailed: they were all holding their breaths; then heads were raised, and a child started to cry. At that, as if on a signal, all at once, hundreds of children overcome by a terrifying attack of nerves suddenly began sobbing, screaming, and weeping, twisting and turning their frail, strengthless limbs on their shabby straw mats and calling out to the parents they had lost...
It took us a long time to calm them down. When their tired heads at last came to rest on their pillows, the little girl's two bright eyes were still looking at me. Before leaving, when I stepped closer to see why she hadn't gone back to sleep, she stretched out a pair of arms toward my neck and held me close for a long time.... Before I left, I looked at all the children again. The room was quiet and peaceful. I was assured that now they would sleep soundly till morning. It seemed to me, however, that those children would dream unceasingly, with relentless insistence, of the days of horror they had lived
through, and that the nightmare would hover constantly over then dark-haired heads.

(excerpt)

Translated by G.M. Goshgarian