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Armenian Poetry

Gevorg Emin (Born 1919)

By Gevorg Emin

About Myself

A poet's real biography is the biography of his inner self, the history of his spiritual life, inseparable from the life and history of his people.

Over and above remain the less interesting items of his "factual" biography, wherein he is indistinguishable from others: his birth, studies, work, love, joys and sorrows, inspirations and disappointments...

I was born in 1919 in the Armenian village of Ashtarak, in the family of a schoolteacher and gardener.

Ashtarak, a big village in the heart of Armenia, abounds in vineyards, ancient temples and monuments. It dates back to the time of the state of Urartu, deriving its name from the Urartan god Ishtar.

Ashtarakians, born horticulturists and vine-growers, can equally well make and enjoy good wine. That is why they are so merry, so witty, and, of course, so prone to fall in love, be it with woman, wine, song or an apt word. Over the ages, they consumed so much wine that today it accounts for a lion's share of the blood in every Ashtarakian (including, of course, myself). In consequence, from their very birth, Ashtarakians .are permanently intoxicated, inspired and in love. And all, therefore, have a bit of the poet in them.

Not accidentally, Ashtarak was for centuries a cradle of national culture and letters, having produced and still producing numerous eminent people : writers, poets, linguists, scholars, cosmologists and even church primates. Also, each Ashtarakian keeps a cherished notebook of his own poetry (usually a rhymed history of Armenia some 6,000 lines long !).

Whatever I may have learned in my few years at Ashtarak school, one thing I know for certain: all that is best in me, which later found rellection in my books, was picked up in childhood, playing in dusty Ashtarak streets, in its gardens, by the river Kasakh, near the churches of Karmravor and Marineh, the mountains Aragats and Tsakhkevank, acquired from the naive yet pithy tales of old men and the songs of brides and young goodwives.

In 1927 our family moved to Yerevan, where in 1936 I finished secondary school, and in 1940 graduated from the local Polytechnical Institute, as an hydraulic engineer.

If today I do not build bridges or canals, but write books, I owe it largely to my good luck having met at school one of the most brilliant contemporary Armenian poets - Egishe Charents.

And, also, I am indebted to that great depository of ancient Armenian manuscripts, the Matenadaran, where I worked as a student, obtaining the precious opportunity to read our sacred books, relishing the taste and flavour of my people's age-old literature, pondering over its meaning and essence.

Be it as it may, I am also grateful to fate for my engineer's qualification: nothing like the exact sciences can help an author to develop a sense of structural harmony, to avoid verbosity and dispense with the luxury of taking ten steps where one is sufficient.

Later, I went to one of the regions of Armenia to build an hydro-electric power station, then served in the army, fell in love, wrote and published poetry and prose, lived and studied in Moscow, travelled extensively in Armenia, over the entire Soviet Union and abroad (Korea, France, America), witnessing how human joys and sorrows are the same everywhere, and how important poetry is in the life of mankind.
 

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. All in all, I have ten books of my own, three sons and my little Armenia, which, however, is vast ' in its aspirations, in its love for all other peoples of the world.

From the book:
Gevorg Emin - Songs of Armenia
Selected Poems
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Updated 29 March, 2000 ..
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