Letter to Yerevan (Part VI)

Letter to Yerevan (Part VI)

The Armenian Weekly is periodically publishing the English translation of Andranik Tzarukian’s epic 1945 poem ‘Tught ar Yerevan’ (‘Letter to Yerevan’)

Having crossed seas of blood and sorrow,
Our eons-old capsizing vessel,
Hoisting sail for a last time,
Has now crashed on these shores.
Countless encounters have battered
Its solid masts, its sturdy decks,
And cast it adrift on enraged waves
As mere feather
And smashed it on the reefs
Into the gaping muzzle
Of a nightmarish chasm…

Now facing us
The countless packs of murky mobs
Surging from North, rushing from South
Arriving thirsty from fetid flatlands
To fester our crystal-clear waters
With muck, blood, and pus,
Descending on fields like ravenous locusts,
Settling in hamlets like desecration
And no hearth is spared
Where on the chaste foreheads of our brides
The black soot of jackals’ reeking snout
Did not smear the holy Diadem…

Our thriving land had become a tomb,
And our sepulchered people used
As whetstone for insatiable swords.
Half-dead, half-alive, terrified, they lived
Six endless centuries as slaves.
Life in them was a mere quivering spark
As they wandered the earth as mere specter,
Under the burden of countless miseries,
Bereft forever of both property and honor…

And from the endless gloom of tombs,
Shaking off the cold shrouds of ashes,
A vibrant heart has suddenly arisen,
Throbbing ahead with arousing rhythm,
And at the blasting beat of its blood
Gasped the entire perishing patrimony,
As exhausted souls re-soared to action,
The diffident slave turned to warrior
Recovering pride in gallant warfare,
Screaming— “Death or Fatherland…”

A heart is triggered beneath the ashes,
A banner is raised swaying in the winds,
Blood is spilled, while bullets hissed,
Swish and sparks of swords heard and seen,
As the merciless foe kept on slaughtering,
The fearless fighters pressed ahead,
New ranks replacing the fallen martyrs,
The land has turned into a punishing fist,
Blood has streamed like an enraged torrent,
Valleys have turned into lakes of tears.
Hell itself has crashed upon our land
And the soil has burst like a red-hot cauldron…

Then murky torrents streamed,
And from the callous cracks of dark clouds
A sliver of blue sky began to shimmer.
Hopes bloomed and the breath of spring
Promised the land a fertile summer.

Cleansed of tears, the people of Armenia
Pushing the plow in righteous effort,
Have set their gaze on future days
Believing that healing fingers
Are touching their wounds,
That the Samaritan is now at hand,
That the vintage shall arrive in festivity,
And wine shall froth in full vessels,
Washing forever the specter of blight
And all over our land’s hill and dale
Once more shall smile a future bright…

***

On the occasion of the 99th anniversary of the establishment of the First Republic of Armenia (1918-1920), the Armenian Weekly announced that it will be periodically publishing the English translation of Andranik Tzarukian’s epic 1945 poem “Tught ar Yerevan” (“Letter to Yerevan”).

The translation, which will be published in parts and culminate on the Centennial of the First Republic of Armenia, is a collaborative effort between the editor of the Armenian Weekly Rupen Janbazian and former editor of the Armenian Review and former director of the ARF and First Republic of Armenia Archives Tatul Sonentz-Papazian.

(Read parts I , II, III,  IV, and V)

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Rupen Janbazian

Rupen Janbazian is the former 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), 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.

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