Vahan Teryan is an Armenian poet, lyricist and public activist. He is the leader of the new generation of Eastern Armenian poetry of the 20th century. Find his poems here and know Armenian poetry.
Vahan Teryan is mostly famous for his sorrowful and romantic poems, which are still read and sung by Armenians not only in Armenia but the world.
Are you madly in love and desperately want to articulate your feelings?
If yes, then Vahan Teryan’s poems will help you to surprise your loved one with his beautiful love songs. And, even if you are not in love, then Teryan’s love poems will make you want to love someone so tenderly and so warmly.
Already liked the idea of surprising your soul mate?
Then, keep scrolling to find out more about one of the greatest Armenian poets, his literary and political activities and finally read some of Teryan’s poems in English immersing yourself in the beauty of words.
Vahan Teryan Life and Education
Vahan Teryan was the 11th child in a big family of the village priest Sukias Ter-Grigoryan.
The beauty of the nature and the rural life of Gandza had a great impact on the inner world and therefore on the writings of the future Armenian poet Vahan Teryan.
After receiving primary education in Gandza, Teryan left for Moscow to study at the Armenian Lazarian Seminary. Here he learned Russian, Latin, French languages, studied the new and old Armenian literature, world classics and contemporary writings.
In 1906 Teryan continued his education at Moscow University (Faculty of History and Philology). Meanwhile, Teryan edited and published three volumes of literary and artistic Almanac “Garun” (“Spring”).
In 1913 Teryan left Moscow University for the University of St. Petersburg, where he majored in Oriental Studies.
Vahan Teryan together with his friend Maxim Gorky, a Russian writer published an anthology of Armenian literature.
Teryan died of tuberculosis on January 7, 1920 in Orenburg, Russia, at the age of 35. The great Armenian poet is buried in Komitas Pantheon which is located in the city center of Yerevan.
Vahan Teryan’s Legacy Today
Vahan Teryan is still perceived by Armenians as a legend of the Armenian poetry and will undoubtedly be so for the generations to come.
Teryan is an author of many verses and critical articles. His letters and translations are the integral part of his legacy.
Teryan was actively involved in political issues as well and had so many plans for the future that remained unfinished because of his untimely death.
When strolling along the streets of Yerevan, you will come across “Teryan Street” at the city center and a school after the great Armenian poet with Vahan Teryan’s statute in front of it.
“The Days of Teryan Poetry” are held every year with participants, special delegations and just admirers of Teryan’s poetry from Armenia and Georgia. During the event the participants recite Teryan’s poems, quotes and perform songs.
Poetry of the Singer of Autumn
Teryan entered the world of literature at a time when the Armenian literature was rich with great writers,. Among them were Hovhannes Tumayan, Avetik Isahakyan, Yeghishe Charents, and many others.
So, the path to becoming a great poet along with such literary giants was not so rosy for Teryan. However, due to the purity and richness of his language and literary style, Teryan managed to take the Armenian poetry to the next level.
Hovhannes Tumanyan, one of the greatest Armenian poets, called Teryan the most original lyric poet of the decade.
The Effect of the Armenian Genocide on Teryan’s Poetry
The Armenian Genocide, World War I brought Teryan great sorrow and pain, which he was later to reflect in “The Land of Nairi” (in which he uses the Armenian word “Nairi” instead of Armenia).
The most striking thing about Teryan’s poetry is perhaps its musicality and the use of stylistic literary devices. Due to this, the reader can “hear” the sounds of falling leaves, rain and breeze. All of these turn Vahan Teryan’s poems into a harmonious melody.
On the other hand, the job of the translator, who is eager to make the beautiful pieces of Armenian poetry available in Russian, English and other languages, faces some challenges. The answer is simple, it is not so easy to transfer the music, repeated sounds and echoing rhymes of Teryan’s poetry.
However, there are some talented translators due to which our non-Armenian readers have the exceptional opportunity to read and enjoy some of Teryan’s poems in English.
Vahan Teryan’s Civil and Political Activities
Vahan Teryan is not only the pride of the Armenian nation as a poet, but as a political activist as well.
Seeing the horrors of the First World War, the devastation of Western Armenia and the bloody Armenian genocide, Teryan was determined to do something for the betterment of the Armenian nation.
After the genocide of Armenians in 1915, Teryan went from town to town in Northern Caucasus to arrange conditions for Armenian refugees.
The Armenian poet was greatly inspired by the Bolshevik Revolution. He closely pinned his hopes of the salvation of Armenian nation on revolution.
So, it comes as no surprise that Teryan was arrested by the Czarist police for his political activities.
After the revolution, Teryan worked in People’s Commissariat for Nationalities. He headed the Department of Armenian Affairs, personally working with Lenin and Stalin.
In the October of 1918, Teryan participated in the peace negotiations in Brest-Litovsk as an adviser of Armenian affairs to the Soviet delegation.
In 1919, he was sent to Central Asia on the important task of People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs.
Unfortunately, during this period the poet fell sick and soon passed away because of long-term disease.
Most Popular and Famous Poems of Vahan Teryan
Are you already interested in Vahan Teryan’s poetry? If yes, then here is our choice of the 10 poems in English, devoted to love, autumn and motherland
Armenian love poetry wouldn’t be complete without the creative influence of Teryan who gave us some of the most tender love poems in the history of Armenian literature.
The poet finds the meaning of life in love and his aim becomes the search for a real love. In a word, we can say that Teryan’s love songs are a gentle eulogy to women. The simple imagery of the woman’s charm and elegance makes Teryan’s poems simply timeless.
So, let’s get acquainted with some of the most famous poems by the Armenian poet devoted to the most important human feeling.
Vahan Teryan Poem #1: I Love Your Dark and Wicked Eyes
I love your dark and wicked eyes, as deep
as the mysterious evening is deep, and dark
as the spell that dusk casts. I love the vast
seascape of your eyes where sin
hesitates like twilight before flickering past
where luck and chance have been.
I love your eyes, their drunken golden haze,
eyes that magnetize the lost like wordless beams
and torture the soul with their pitiless
caress. I love their dark and mysterious depths.
Teryan is also well-known for his sorrowful and romantic poems dedicated to autumn. So, it comes as no surprise that Teryan is known as a “Singer of Autumn”.
The melancholic autumn song is the song of the poet’s heart. The following poem is filled with images of rain, mist, tender sorrow, despair which reflect Teryan’s feelings and inner world.
Vahan Teryan poem #2: Autumn Song
A stirring chill, whirring still,
keeps me mollified
by empty trees, yellow leaves
that slow my stride.
Filling paths, failing greens
turn brown and pass
in shades that fade, fields unmade
All my fires are banked fires
down to a glow.
And stirring dreams, whirring dreams
flare and go.
Teryan’s “The Land of Nairi” is a collection of patriotic poems depicting images of the fate, suffering and mourning of the Armenian nation already accustomed to sadness. However, deep in his mind, the poet looks with hope and faith to the bright future of his nation.
Vahan Teryan poem #3: In the Mist
In the mist of this present scene
There looms again the Nairean grief,
What other country carries such grief in its heart
And such forgiveness- what other country?
Where else are thrusting rocks
Bared like hands reaching to the sky?
Where else is prayer this true and plain
And where so willing the oblation?
Where does the vengeful dagger lie, that stabs
As wickedly, deeply, into a heart?
Where else is the soul so wounded,
And the innocent earth so bloody?
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