Hovhannes Toumanian

(19 February 1869 - 23 March 1923 / Dsegh, Lori Province)

Akhtamar - Poem by Hovhannes Toumanian

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 urge 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 villains, 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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Poem Submitted: Monday, September 6, 2010

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