If Only This New Year: ‘Yernek Teh Ays Nor Tarin’ (Editorial)

‘If only this New Year, Armenia would be free…”(Photo: Araz B. Photography)

New Year (Nor Tari)

By: Raphael Patkanian

If only this New Year
Would bring an end to our sorrows,
Evil would fade and good
Would live in our hearts.

If only this New Year
Armenia would be free
And fields of roses would gleam
Around our Mount Masis.[1]

If only this New Year
The Armenian people would unite
And our flag would wave atop
Our fortress at Karin.[2]

If only this New Year
Armenia would stand on its feet
And our half-ruined Karin
Would become our capital.

Armenians, never doubt
That all this will be realized
If we free ourselves
of small-mindedness, once and for all.[3]

***

More than a century ago, famed Armenian poet Raphael Patkanian penned a short poem entitled Nor Tari (New Year), wishing that the new year would bring an end to Armenia’s sorrows.

Patkanian—also known by his pen name Kamar Katiba—was born in 1830 in Nor Nakhichevan, a city in southern Russia founded in the 19th century by Crimean-Armenians.

He was born and lived in a very different time; a time when Armenia was not free.

In his poem, Patkanian longs for a free Armenia—one, in which “fields of roses would shine” around Masis and the Armenian flag would “wave atop our fortress at Karin.”

Through his poems, Patkanian—along with contemporaries such as novelist Raffi (Hakob Melik Hakobian), journalist Grigor Artsruni and several others—began a public dialogue among Armenians about the fate of their people and the hopes for a free homeland, at a time when Armenians were divided into three empire, but shared eerily similar problems.[4]

Patkanian’s bust in front of the Gevorgian Seminary in Etchmiadzin, Armenia (Photo: Armine Aghayan)

Today, more than a century later, Armenia is free and independent. However, Armenia’s problems remain… and Patkanian’s words remain relevant.

Yes. What feels like a never-ending war with neighboring Azerbaijan continues to fail to find its end as a permanent peace is still not reached;

Armenian servicemen continue to be killed on the Nagorno-Karabagh (NKR/Artsakh) Line of Contact—and even in border villages of the Republic of Armenia, like we witnessed only a couple of days ago;

Hyper-privatization has led to unchecked ownership and entrepreneurship, and the rise of an oligarchy has crippled Armenia’s economy and led to the general povertization of the country’s population;

Turkey maintains its illegal blockade on land-locked Armenia, while greater powers remain silent;

The mass exodus of Armenia’s population continues to grow year after year, as hopeless citizens are left with little choice but to emigrate;

Yes, all this is true, but today, more than a century later, Patkanian’s words remain relevant because Armenia is free.

They remain relevant because we have a country where “Armenians [could] unite…”

They remain relevant because we have a republic that can stand “on its feet…”

They remain relevant because Armenia can serve as a platform from which we can strive for “our flag [to] wave atop our fortress at Karin…”

It is up to us, however—up to all Armenians regardless of where we may live—to take Patkanian’s concluding message of freeing ourselves, once and for all, “of small-mindedness,” seriously.

If we really care about the future of our country, our people, and our nation, now—more than ever—is the time to reinvigorate hope and to take Patkanian’s message to heart.

It is in our hands and our hands only.

If only this New Year…

***

Notes

[1] “Masis” is the traditional Armenian name for Mount Ararat. The terms “Masis” and “Ararat” are both widely—often interchangeably—used in Armenian.

[2] Karin is an ancient Armenian city; modern-day Erzurum.

[3] «Նոր Տարի» (Nor Tari). Poem by Raphael Patkanian. Translated by Rupen Janbazian

[4] Suny, Ronald Grigor. They Can Live in the Desert but Nowhere Else: A History of the Armenian Genocide. (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2015), pp. 76-77

***

 

Below is a rendition of Patkanian’s poem by famed Armenian poet, guitarist, singer, songwriter, and lyricist Ruben Hakhverdyan.

 

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Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian is the editor of the Armenian Weekly. His writings primarily focus on politics, human rights, community, literature, and Armenian culture. He has reported from Armenia, Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabagh Republic/NKR), Turkey, Canada, the United States, and Western Armenia. He has served on the local and national executives of the Armenian Youth Federation (AYF) of Canada and Hamazkayin Toronto, and served as the administrator of the Armenian National Committee (ANC) of Toronto. Janbazian also taught Armenian History and Creative Writing at the ARS Armenian Private School of Toronto, and has worked on several translations.

8 Comments

  1. How true, how well put, how well described.
    Bravo Rupen.
    Shnorhavor nor tarien.
    We are with hope that one day, just one day it will all be clear.

  2. The last two lines of this beautiful poem are the most telling, the saddest, and, I fear, utterly impossible for Armenians to overcome. Why are we so small minded? What is wrong with us?

    If we free ourselves
    of small-mindedness, once and for all.

  3. Thanks for sharing. This poem is still relevant today.

    Unfortunately, the issue of small-mindedness persists in Armenia as there is no incentive for those in power in government and in business to change their ways for the benefit of their compatriots.

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