Emin (Born 1919)
By Gevorg Emin
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
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
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.