We are featuring the masterful Bedros Touryan this week, whose poem, “My Death,” captures the sublime power of memory in deciding between life and death.
His poetry was the product of emotional maturity beyond his years. Despite his young age, he wrote perceptively about love and mortality, a marriage of his insight and eloquence.
Perhaps it was his looming death that sharpened his senses and focused them on the truths and feelings of life that otherwise come with age. Whatever convergence of forces allowed him to write so magically, we are grateful.
Dear, I loved you when Armenia’s roses
Budded forth upon your forehead pale –
On the day those suns, your eyes, were hidden
Bashfully behind their lashes’ veil!
Freely the cool breeze your path may visit,
And the stars gaze on you without fear.
Only I, alone amid the shadows,
Tremble, hardly daring to draw near.
Like a breeze to-day you flee before me;
On my lyre your shade alone you throw;
Like a comet from afar coquetting,
While upon the air your gold locks flow.
Then the graveyard’s frozen trees all whisper
With the dead, beneath a cold wind’s breath;
Then my sad heart’s chords give back an echo
To their voice, an echo calling death
But the light sound of your footstep echoes
Ever and forever in mine ears,
And my soul descends, with sobs and mourning,
Into an abyss of woe and tears!
Lights and sounds have died; no leaf now rustles;
Mute our hearts – no breath of word or kiss!
Kisses now and murmurs all are buried
In the starry heavens’ deep abyss.
Let the zephyr breathe upon its blossoms,
Let the stars look down upon the sea;
Let me too grow pale, if but once only,
When your ardent glance is cast on me!
When the crescent moon to the horizon
Blushing sinks on yonder mountain heights,
Then you vanish – then you walk no longer
There before the stars, the wind, the lights.
Like a breeze that stirs the leaves and shakes them,
So you stirred my heart’s depths, full of fire;
And you drew from out my throbbing bosom
Those keen cords of flame that make a lyre.
You walk forth when day is done, my darling,
When the starry night is cool and sweet.
Do you know how with your glance of magic
You consume my heart beneath your feet?
Translation by Alice Stone Blackwell.