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Armenian Poetry

Hovhannes Toumanian

English translation by V. Rogov

Akhtamar

Beside the laughing lake of Van 
A little hamlet lies; 
Each night into the waves a man 
Leaps under darkened skies. 

He cleaves the waves with mightly arm, 
Needing no raft or boat, 
And swims, disdaining risk and harm, 
Towards the isle remote. 

On the dark island burns so bright 
A piercing, luring ray: 
There's lit a beacon every night 
To guide him on his way. 

Upon the island is that fire 
Lit by Tamar the fair; 
Who waits, all burning with desire, 
Beneath the shelter there. 

The lover's heart-how doth it beat! 
How beat the roaring waves! 
But, bold and scorning to retreat, 
The elements he braves. 

And now Tamar the fair doth hear, 
With trembling heart aflame, 
The water splashing-oh, so near, 
And fire consumes her frame. 

All quiet is on the shore around, 
And, black,there looms a shade: 
The darkness utters not a sound, 
The swimmer finds the maid. 

The tide-waves ripple, lisp and splash 
And murmur, soft and low; 
They urqe each other, mingle, clash, 
As, ebbing out, they go. 

Flutter and rustle the dark waves. 
And with them every star 
Whispers how sinfully behaves 
The shameless maid Tamar; 

Their whisper shakes her throbbing her 
This time, as was before! 
The youth into the waves doth dart, 
The maiden prays on shore. 

But certain villians, full of spite, 
Against them did conspire, 
And on a hellish, mirky night 
Put out the guiding fire. 

The luckless lover lost his way, 
And only from afar 
The wind is carrying in his sway 
The moans of:"Ah, Tamar!" 

And through the night his voice is heard 
Upon the craggy shores, 
And, though it's muffled and blurred 
By the waves' rapid roars, 

The words fly forward-faint they are- 
"Ah, Tamar!" 
And in the morn the splashing tide 
The hapless yough cast out, 

Who,battling with the waters, died 
In an unequal bout; 
Cold lips are clenched, two words they bar: 
"Ah, Tamar!" 
And ever since, both near and far, 
They call the island Akhtamar 

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Compiled by Irma Safrazbegian 1995

Courtesy of Vahan Bleyan 
HAYKNET - Armenian multilingual database 
Web site: www.arminco.com/hayknet

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Updated 15 January 2000 ..
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