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Today a story and poem from the land of Armenia……

 

The story of  ARTASHES AND SATENIK (From the History of Armenia) by MOSES OF KHORENE

AT this time the Alans united with all the people of the mountain country, and having taken possession of the half of Georgia, spread themselves in great multitudes over our land. And Artashes collected a mighty host together, and there was war between the two great nations. The Alans retreated somewhat, and crossing over the river Kur they encamped on its northern bank. And when Artashes arrived, he encamped on the southern hank, so that the river was between them. But because the son of the King of the Alans was taken captive by the Armenian hosts and brought to Artashes, the King of the Alans sought peace, promising to give to Artashes whatsoever he should ask. And he swore an eternal peace unto him, so that the sons of the Alans might not be carried away captive into the land of the Armenians. And when Artashes would not consent to give back the youth, his sister came to the river’s bank and stood upon a great rock. And by means of the interpreters she spoke to the camp of Artashes, saying:–“O brave Artashes, who hast vanquished the great nation of the Alans, unto thee I speak. Come, hearken unto the bright-eyed daughter of the Alan King, and give back the youth. For it is not the way of heroes to destroy life at the root, nor for the sake of humbling and enslaving a hostage to establish everlasting enmity between two great nations.” And on hearing such wise sayings, Artashes went to the bank of the river. And seeing that the maiden was beautiful, and having heard these words of wisdom from her, he desired her. And calling Smpad his chamberlain he told him the wishes of his heart, and commanded that he should obtain the maiden for him, swearing unto the great Alan nation oaths of peace, and promising to send the youth back in safety. And this appeared wise in the eyes of Smpad, and he sent messengers unto the King of the Alans asking him to give the lady Satenik his daughter as wife unto Artashes. And the King of the Mans answered, “From whence shall brave Artashes give thousands upon thousands and tens of thousands upon tens of thousands unto the Alans in return for the maiden?”

 

Concerning this the poets of that land sing in their songs:–

 

“Brave King Artashes
Mounted his fine black charger,
And took the red leathern cord
With the golden ring.
Like a swift-winged eagle
He passed over the river,
And cast the golden ring
Round the waist of the Alan Princess;
Causing much pain
To the tender maiden
As he bore her swiftly
Back to his camp.”

 

Which being interpreted meaneth that he was commanded to give much gold, leather, and crimson dye in exchange for the maiden. So also they sing of the wedding:–

 

“It rained showers of gold when Artashes became a bridegroom.
It rained pearls when Satenik became a bride.”

 

For it was the custom of our kings to scatter coins amongst the people when they arrived at the doors of the temple for their wedding, as also for the queens to scatter pearls in their bridechamber.

 

Artashes and Satenik from Armenian Poetry and Legends

 

——————

THE SORROWS OF ARMENIA

 

IN many a distant, unknown land,
My sons belovèd exiled roam,
Servile they kiss the stranger’s hand;
How shall I find and bring them home?

 

The ages pass, no tidings come;
My brave ones fall, are lost and gone.
My blood is chilled, my voice is dumb,
And friend or comfort I have none.

 

With endless griefs my heart is worn,
Eternal sorrow is my doom;
Far from my sons, despis’d, forlorn,
I must descend the darksome tomb.

 

Thou shepherd wandering o’er the hill,
Come weep with me my children lost;
Let mournful strains the valleys fill
For those we loved and valued most.

 

Fly, crane, Armenia’s bird, depart;
Tell them I die of grief; and tell
How hope is dead within my heart–
Bear to my sons my last farewell!

 

————————-

From ARMENIAN POETRY AND LEGENDS

ISBN: 978-1-907256-18-9

http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_apl.html

 

A percentage of the profits will be donated to the Centre for Armenian Information and Advice (CAIA) in London.

Armenian Poetry and Legends

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I don’t usually post on Sundays but overnight I received a “like” from a Canadian/Armenian  – Tamar Najarian. Not having much to do on a Sunday morning, I followed the link to her post and read with great interest about how she felt that, despite having grown up in Canada, she had “come home” the minute she stepped onto Armenian soil.

 

I grew up in South Africa and even as a child knew that South Africa would not be my home. This feeling of “not belonging” was intensified through my teenage years especially during my post-high school period when I completed 2 years national service.

 

Immediately after national service I toured Europe and on landing in Luxembourg and travelling into Germany, I knew that my future lay somewhere other than South Africa. I ended up working in London and did many backpacking mini-tours into European countries, but none really felt like “home”.

 

I returned to South Africa, trained as a computer programmer, but always had a sense that my future lay elsewhere.

In 1987 I married a Kiwi (New Zealand) Occupational Therapist on assignment to the South African Leprosy Mission. Even though married we never “put down roots” in South Africa and when her contract ran out it was an easy decision to “up sticks” and move to New Zealand.

 

Our route to New Zealand took us via London, where we had both worked in earlier days, New York, Los Angeles and eventually Auckland. The USA was stimulating but did not have that “this is where I’m meant to be” factor. On disembarking in Auckland in May 1988, I knew straight away that I was “home”. This was where I was meant to be. Why or how did I know this? Don’t ask me, I just knew.

 

I currently work and live in London (again) but we still have our family home in Papkowhai just North of Wellington, New Zealand.

 

Here’s a poem from Zabelle Boyan’s “Armenian Poetry and Legends” especially for you Tamar – and all those who have a feeling in their gut that their future lies somewhere beyond the end of their street……

 

THE TEARS OF ARAXES

BY RAPHAEL PATKANIAN

I WALK by Mother Arax
With faltering steps and slow,
And memories of past ages
Seek in the waters’ flow.

But they run dark and turbid,
And beat upon the shore
In grief and bitter sorrow,
Lamenting evermore.

“Araxes! with the fishes
Why dost not dance in glee?
The sea is still far distant,
Yet thou art sad, like me.

“From thy proud eyes, O Mother,
Why do the tears downpour?
Why dost thou haste so swiftly
Past thy familiar shore?

“Make not thy current turbid;
Flow calm and joyously.
Thy youth is short, fair river;
Thou soon wilt reach the sea.

“Let sweet rose-hedges brighten
Thy hospitable shore,
And nightingales among them
Till morn their music pour.

“Let ever-verdant willows
Lave in thy waves their feet,
And with their bending branches
Refresh the noonday heat.

“Let shepherds on thy margin
Walk singing, without fear;
Let lambs and kids seek freely
Thy waters cool and clear.”

Araxes swelled her current,
Tossed high her foaming tide,
And in a voice of thunder
Thus from her depths replied:–

“Rash, thoughtless youth, why com’st thou
My age-long sleep to break,
And memories of my myriad griefs
Within my breast to wake?

“When hast thou seen a widow,
After her true-love died,
From head to foot resplendent
With ornaments of pride?

“For whom should I adorn me?
Whose eyes shall I delight?
The stranger hordes that tread my banks
Are hateful in my sight.

“My kindred stream, impetuous Kur,
Is widowed, like to me,
But bows beneath the tyrant’s yoke,
And wears it slavishly.

“But I, who am Armenian,
My own Armenians know;
I want no stranger bridegroom;
A widowed stream I flow.

“Once I, too, moved in splendour,
Adorned as is a bride
With myriad precious jewels,
My smiling banks beside.

“My waves were pure and limpid,
And curled in rippling play;
The morning star within them
Was mirrored till the day.

“What from that time remaineth?
All, all has passed away.
Which of my prosperous cities
Stands near my waves to-day?

“Mount Ararat doth pour me,
As with a mother’s care,
From out her sacred bosom
Pure water, cool and fair.

“Shall I her holy bounty
To hated aliens fling?
Shall strangers’ fields be watered
From good Saint Jacob’s spring?

“For filthy Turk or Persian
Shall I my waters pour,
That they may heathen rites perform
Upon my very shore,

“While my own sons, defenceless,
Are exiled from their home,
And, faint with thirst and hunger,
In distant countries roam?

“My own Armenian nation
Is banished far away;
A godless, barbarous people
Dwells on my banks to-day.

“Shall I my hospitable shores
Adorn in festive guise
For them, or gladden with fair looks
Their wild and evil eyes?

“Still, while my sons are exiled,
Shall I be sad, as now.
This is my heart’s deep utterance,
My true and holy vow.”

No more spake Mother Arax;
She foamed up mightily,
And, coiling like a serpent,
Wound sorrowing toward the sea.

Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell.

If you haven’t worked it out or looked it up, the Araxes is a river that rises in northeastern Turkey (near the source of the Euphrates) and flows generally eastward through Armenia emptying into the Caspian Sea.

 

From “Armenian Poetry and Legends”  compiled and illustrated by Zabelle Boyajian

ISBN 978-1-907256-18-9

URL http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_apl.html

 

Armenian Poetry and Legends

From the History of Armenia

by

MOSES of KHORENE

FOR a few years before the death of Ninus, Ara reigned over Armenia under his Protectorate, and found the same favour in his eyes as his father Aram had done. But that wanton and lustful woman Semiramis, having heard speak for many years of the beauty of Ara, wished to possess him; only she ventured not to do anything openly. But after the death or the escape to Crete of Ninus, as it hath been affirmed unto me, she discovered her passion freely, and sent messengers to Ara the Beautiful with gifts and offerings, with many prayers and promises of riches; begging him to come to her to Nineveh and either wed her and reign over all that Ninus had possessed, or fulfil her desires and return in peace to Armenia, with many gifts.

And when the messengers had been and returned many times and Ara had not consented, Semiramis became very wroth; and she arose and took all the multitude of her hosts and hastened to the land of Armenia, against Ara. But, as she had beforehand declared, it was not so much to kill him and persecute him that she went, as to subdue him and bring him by force to fulfil the desires of her passion. For having been consumed with desire by what she had heard of him, on seeing him she became as one beside herself. She arrived in this turmoil at the plains of Ara, called after him Aïrarat. And when the battle was about to take place she commanded her generals to devise some means of saving the life of Ara. But in the fighting the army of Ara was beaten, and Ara died, being slain by the warriors of Semiramis. And after the battle the Queen sent out to the battlefield to search for the body of her beloved amongst those who had died. And they found the body of Ara amongst the brave ones that had fallen, and she commanded them to place it in an upper chamber in her castle.

But when the hosts of Armenia arose once more against Queen Semiramis to avenge the death of Ara, she said: “I have commanded the gods to lick his wounds, and he shall live again.” At the same time she thought to bring Ara back to life by witchcraft and charms, for she was maddened by the intensity of her desires. But when the body began to decay, she commanded them to cast it into a deep pit, and to cover it. And having dressed up one of her men in secret, she sent forth the fame of him thus: “The gods have licked Ara and have brought him back to life again, thus fulfilling our prayers and our pleasure. Therefore from this time forth shall they be the more glorified and worshipped by us, for that they are the givers of joy and the fulfillers of desire.” She also erected a new statue in honour of the gods and worshipped it with many sacrifices, showing unto all as if the gods had brought Ara back to life again. And having caused this report to be spread over all the land of Armenia and satisfied the people she put an end to the fighting. And she took the son of Ara whom his beloved wife Nouvart had borne unto him and who was but twelve years old at the time of his father’s death. And she called his name Ara in memory of her love for Ara the Beautiful, and appointed him ruler over the land of Armenia, trusting him in all things.

From “Armenian Poetry and Legends”- ISBN 978-1-907256-18-9

URL http://www.abelapublishing.com/cg_apl.html

Armenian Poetry and Legends

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