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
© Copyright 2004 Armenian News Network/Groong. All Rights Reserved.
POEM FOR EVERYONE (Amenapoem) By Yeghishe Charents, Translated by Ara Baliozian PROLOGUE 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 - Behold! Polytonal songs, Fabulous, Marvelous. Miraculous songs. Greetings, exalted companion! Miner! Digger! Baker!... Yes! 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! PART ONE - July 1914, Yerevan- Yerevan. Astafian Street. On the road. Deep in thoughts, Boghos, 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, Grapes, Wine. 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 . . . .) Yerevan. 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 . . . . Lazy. Slow. A drowsy ass. Like a pleasant dream - Hot, Sun, Summer dust - Yerevan, Yerevan, 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, Noon, 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! PART TWO 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 - Turks, Italians, Indians, Georgians, Russians, Shetlanders, Armenians, Tartars. Circassians, Chinese, 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. Kars, Sarikamish - Like dust they came In a raging storm. And they roared - "Vo-vo-vo - Vo-vo" - Dry-throated cannon - "Vo" "Vo-vo" - Morning, Noon, And night. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And it was thus Soldiers by the million Confronted one another - From Baghdad to Berlin. Paramushir, And from Berlin to Calais And Dover Verdun Lyon. 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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PART THREE Yerevan. Astafian Street. Innkeeper Hamo in his chair. Autumn. Rain. Fog. 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 - Why 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 . . . ." . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . PART FOUR Yerevan. That is to say - Nairi. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Crossroads of continents Where East and West meet Stands ancient Nairi - A blood-stained Question mark Erect 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 - . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . EPILOGUE 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.