Armenian poetry has always been a peculiar art of self expression for Armenian poets. Find some Armenian poems with its English translation here!
The unique talents of Armenian poets made the readers get the feelings and idea of their poems. With every single word chosen delicately, they delivered the message of their hearts and have become famous and highly appreciated.
Most of Armenian poets put some kind of Armenian soul into their poetry and art. But foreigners who don’t speak the language are deprived of seeing and feeling that Armenian soul in it.
So, we decided to make it easier for you. Even if you don’t speak Armenian, we want you to take a look at Armenian poetry. That is why we have chosen 10 greatest pieces of Armenian poetry in English translation, which we find you should know!
Poem #1: Gregory of Narek “Speaking with God from the Depth of the Heart”
Gregory of Narek was an outstanding Armenian mystical philosopher and poet. He was also a church servant and is a saint of Armenian Church. Thanks to his extraordinary talent, this genius poet has reached complete perfection in his works.
Very often he is called “the first Armenian great poet”, as he was the first who made Armenian prose widely known. His most famous work is called “The book of lamentations”. This is a collection of poems which the writer calls “encyclopedia of prayers for all nations”.
“Speaking with God from the depth of the heart” is a completely unique piece of writing belonging to this book. Raising deep philosophical ideas and not being afraid of creating rather daring dialogue with God. This was a revolutionary work, which was the triumph of Armenian poetry.
You can enjoy these unique poems in English with great translation by Thomas J. Samuelian.
Poem #2: Sayat-Nova “Love Song”
Let’s pass from deep philosophical topics to sweet love topics. Sayat-Nova’s poems have their unique place in Armenian poetry, which are never faded. Living in a deeply religious society, where the only subject accepted to worship was God, he wasn’t afraid to worship the feeling called love.
“Love song” is one of the most famous poems of Sayat-Nova. Here we can see the deep feelings of the poet towards his beloved creature. The poet says that there is quite much sorrow and pain in the world, but he doesn’t mind as the love towards her is a golden cup for him filled with immortality.
He describes her beauty using extremely unique comparisons. He compares her lips with candy, skin with smooth satin, teeth with pearls and diamonds, eyes with gold-enameled cups adorned with precious stones etc. Isn’t it touching?
The translation is by Alice Stone Blackwell. If you’re fond of love poems, then definitely read it!
Poem #3: Bedros Tourian “To Love”
Another brilliant romantic poet is Bedros Tourian. Living only 21 years, he has left a huge literature heritage and great number of admirers. Indeed, it’s really amazing how can a young man in such an early age touch such delicate and sensitive topics about life, love and death.
In the poem “To love” Bedros Tourian writes, how cruel the life and society are. He is only 21 and already is going to die, however he hasn’t even felt the sweet taste of love. Nobody cares about his health and early death. That fact makes his pain even worse.
You can easily find this poem in English translated by Alice Stone Blackwell.
Poem #4: Mikael Nalbandian “Liberty”
Being a poet, writer, literary critic and revolutionary democrat: Mikael Nalbandian’s poems are filled with patriotic soul. “Liberty” is a perfect example of his views and ambitions towards the bright future of Armenia. In fact, one of Mikael Nalbandian’s poems became the anthem of the Republic of Armenia.
In the poem “Liberty”, he depicts the difficulties of life, but at the same time he states that the most important thing is the liberty, the liberty of soul. It doesn’t matter that as a child he was tied round with many swaddling bands, because even then he was seeking liberty.
Of course, this comparison has a deep metaphorical meaning in it. He wants to say with this poem that those who are born with freedom of soul can never remain silent, as they will never stop crying “liberty”. However, he thinks that life must also be full for difficulties and injustice. The translation into English is by Alice Stone Blackwell.
Poem #5: Hovhannes Tumanian “In the Armenian Mountains”
Armenian poetry is even more valuable thanks to incomparably huge input of this Armenian poet. Hovhannes Tumanian is the most famous and widely loved and accepted poet among Armenians.
Hovhannes Tumanian is read in all ages, as he has works both for children and adults. That’s why he has gained the name “National poet of Armenia”. In the poem “In the Armenian mountains” the poet depicts the cruel and hard history of Armenians. The journey was heavy, but they survived bearing all the sorrows and hardships.
The strong and unbreakable soul of an Armenian will always disappoint enemies and coping with all hardships continue creating their history. You can find poem in English translated by Dorian Rottenberg.
Poem #6: Hamo Sahyan “Day Turned Dark”
Brilliant depiction of the beauty of nature, memories filled with tenderness and naïve recollections from childhood. While reading this poem, you are absorbed in its beautiful depictions, which may take you out from reality for a while.
In this unique poem, the poet tells about his childhood memories, when the whole family gathered in the evenings. When the day gradually turns into evening the atmosphere of melancholy rises as well.
The whole family is waiting for grandpa, the head of the family. The talented poet describes this traditional Armenian ritual in such a delicate way, that the reader imaginarily travels to those times.
Reading this poem is highly recommended! The English translation is by Lusine and Alfred Mueller.
Poem #7: Daniel Varoujan “The Longing Letter”
If you’re seeking something light to read before hard working day, hold on, Varoujan’s poems would not be the best choice in this case. Daniel Varoujan is a representative of Western-Armenian literature and like many thinkers of 19th century he also had a terrible faith and was murdered by Ottoman Empire during the massacres of Western Armenians, aka “The Armenian Genocide”.
His deep philosophical poems are filled with blood and sorrow. What else could he write about after seeing all those dreadful scenes and injustice? In the poem “The longing letter” the author writes about the sufferings of a mother; whose son is not with her.
Everything is destroyed in their home, there is nothing to live for, that’s why the son has chosen to become a pilgrim. Reading the translated version in English is much more light then the original Western Armenian version. The translation is by Alice Stone Blackwell.
Poem #8: Yeghishe Charents “I Love My Sweet Armenia’s….”
Here we go! You can hardly find someone in Armenia who doesn’t know this poem by heart. “I love my sweet Armenia’s word, which is filled with the taste of sun”: the first line of the poem starts with these words.
Even from the first words we can notice that there is so much warm and sunny association with Armenia. Bright and sunny: This is exactly how Armenians see their motherland. The poet says that he loves everything in his country, even the unwelcoming huts, which are lost in the dark.
This poem shows the passionate love of the poet towards his homeland and is very close to Armenians’ hearts. Translation is by Shant Norashkharian.
Poem #9: Vahan Terian “Ghosts”
A perfect piece for rainy mood: Melancholy is the distinctive feature of Vahan Terian in Armenian poetry. “Ghosts” is a love poem. Being accompanied with mystical style, which is typical to Terian emphasizes the uniqueness of this poem.
The poem contains not only deep meaning in it, but is also very beautiful one. The poem is translated by Diana Der Hovanessian.
Poem #10: Paruyr Sevak “Love”
Paruyr Sevak is one of the giants in Armenian poetry. He is widely known and loved. His topics are mainly about love. Reading his poem “Love” one can understand the depth of the poet’s soul and how deeply one can love and suffer.
He says that love always comes unexpectedly and compares it with colossus of a ship approaching the low-hanging bridges of the river. The poem is rich with unique comparisons and deep philosophical thoughts.
Reading is recommended! The translation is by Margarit Tadevosyan-Ordukhanyan.
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