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Hovhannes Tumanian: Rest in Peace

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Translation of Hovhannes Tumanian poem
1915

And I stood up, so that
In keeping with our ancestral laws,
I may read a last prayer
On the hapless victims of my nation,
Who in city and mart
On hill and plain,
From sea to sea,
Extinguished are,
Dead, strewn, scattered
In their thousands.
And I borrowed fire
From the red flames
Of the great conflagration,
That consumed Armenia;
There in the bosom
Of the cold serene skies,
Ignited our mountains
The Massis and the Ara,
The Sipan and the Sermantz
The Nemruth and the Tandurck.
One by one I relit
The great candles
Of the Land of Armenia.
I relit the lamp
Of the Holy Arakadz too.
Like the distant sun;
Endless and infinite.
Always refulgent and bright
Over my head.
I stood there sullen and alone,
Solid like Mount Massis;
I called upon those miserable spirits,
Strewn forever as far as Mesopotamia,
As far as Assyria, the Sea of Armenia,
As far as the Hellespont,
As far as the stormy shores of Pontus.
“Rest in peace, my orphans.
In vain are the bitter tears,
In vain and useless.
Man the man-eating beast
Shall remain thus
For a long, long time.”
To my right the Euphrates,
To my left the Tigris,
With mighty torrential roars,
Singing psalmodies
Meandered through
Their deep, deep valleys.
The clouds, too,
Rose from the plain of Tsirac,
The giant censer.
They set out from the verdant hills.
From the Armenian Range.
Clumps fragrant,
Moved on and on
Sprinkling the jewels of rain,
The scent of flowers,
The scent of incense.
As far as Mesopotamia.
As far as the Hellespont.
As far as the stormy shores of Pontus.
“Rest in peace, O my orphans.
In vain are the bitter tears,
In vain and useless.
Man the man-eating beast
Shall remain thus,
For a long time to come.