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Armenian Legends and Poems [1916] at

p. 69



I WALK by Mother Arax
     With faltering steps and slow,
And memories of past ages
     Seek in the waters' flow.

But they run dark and turbid,
     And beat upon the shore
In grief and bitter sorrow,
     Lamenting evermore.

"Araxes! with the fishes
     Why dost not dance in glee?
The sea is still far distant,
     Yet thou art sad, like me.

"From thy proud eyes, O Mother,
     Why do the tears downpour?
Why dost thou haste so swiftly
     Past thy familiar shore?

"Make not thy current turbid;
     Flow calm and joyously.
Thy youth is short, fair river;
     Thou soon wilt reach the sea.

"Let sweet rose-hedges brighten
     Thy hospitable shore,
And nightingales among them
     Till morn their music pour.

p. 70

"Let ever-verdant willows
     Lave in thy waves their feet,
And with their bending branches
     Refresh the noonday heat.

"Let shepherds on thy margin
     Walk singing, without fear;
Let lambs and kids seek freely
     Thy waters cool and clear."

Araxes swelled her current,
     Tossed high her foaming tide,
And in a voice of thunder
     Thus from her depths replied:--

"Rash, thoughtless youth, why com’st thou
     My age-long sleep to break,
And memories of my myriad griefs
     Within my breast to wake?

"When hast thou seen a widow,
     After her true-love died,
From head to foot resplendent
     With ornaments of pride?

"For whom should I adorn me?
     Whose eyes shall I delight?
The stranger hordes that tread my banks
     Are hateful in my sight.

"My kindred stream, impetuous Kur,
     Is widowed, like to me,
But bows beneath the tyrant's yoke,
     And wears it slavishly.

p. 71

"But I, who am Armenian,
     My own Armenians know;
I want no stranger bridegroom;
     A widowed stream I flow.

"Once I, too, moved in splendour,
     Adorned as is a bride
With myriad precious jewels,
     My smiling banks beside.

"My waves were pure and limpid,
     And curled in rippling play;
The morning star within them
     Was mirrored till the day.

"What from that time remaineth?
     All, all has passed away.
Which of my prosperous cities
     Stands near my waves to-day?

"Mount Ararat doth pour me,
     As with a mother's care,
From out her sacred bosom
     Pure water, cool and fair.

"Shall I her holy bounty
     To hated aliens fling?
Shall strangers' fields be watered
     From good Saint Jacob's spring?

"For filthy Turk or Persian
     Shall I my waters pour,
That they may heathen rites perform
     Upon my very shore,

p. 72

"While my own sons, defenceless,
     Are exiled from their home,
And, faint with thirst and hunger,
     In distant countries roam?

"My own Armenian nation
     Is banished far away;
A godless, barbarous people
     Dwells on my banks to-day.

"Shall I my hospitable shores
     Adorn in festive guise
For them, or gladden with fair looks
     Their wild and evil eyes?

"Still, while my sons are exiled,
     Shall I be sad, as now.
This is my heart's deep utterance,
     My true and holy vow."

No more spake Mother Arax;
     She foamed up mightily,
And, coiling like a serpent,
     Wound sorrowing toward the sea.

                 Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell.


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