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My Death by Bedros Touryan

At the end of our first week, we published this poem but later removed it. We had mistakenly given credit to Khrimyan Hayrig for penning this ostensibly morose but deeply meaningful work. It is, in fact, the genius of Bedros Touryan (Petros Duryan).

A playwright and a poet, Touryan died of tuberculosis at the age of 21. By that time, the prolific writer had already amassed a corpus of literature that would have taken some of his contemporaries a lifetime to produce. His fantastical love of the written word is evident not only in the breadth of his work but in the beauty of his art. This poem is but one example.

Irrespective of its author, it conveys a message that The Armenite has embraced. It is the treasures bequeathed to us  from generations past that enrich our lives and minds today – we need only take them and make them our own. 

Touryan and Hayrig are part of that treasure and for us, they are still alive.

When Death’s pale angel stands before my face,

With smile unfathomable, stern and chill,

And when my sorrows with my soul exhale,

Know yet, my friends, that I am living still.


When at my head a waxen taper slim

With its cold rays the silent room shall fill,

A taper with a face that speaks of death,

Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.


When, with my forehead glittering with tears,

They in a shroud enfold me, cold and chill

As any stone, and lay me on a bier,

Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.


When the sad bell shall toll – that bell, the laugh

Of cruel Death, which wakes an icy thrill –

And when my bier is slowly borne along,

Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.


When the death-chanting priests, dark browed, austere,

With incense and with prayers the air shall fill,

Rising together as they pass along,

Yet know, my friends, that I am living still.


When they have set my tomb in order fair,

And when, with bitter sobs and wailing shrill,

My dear ones from the grave at length depart,

Yet know, my friends, I shall be living still.


But when my grave forgotten shall remain

In some dim nook, neglected and passed by, —

When from the world my memory fades away,

That is the time when I indeed shall die!


Translation by Alice Stone Blackwell.

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