Armenian Legends and Poems  at sacred-texts.com
A fearful-looking bird, with wings wide spread,
Ill-omened as the Devil, and as dread;
He hovers round my wasted body, till
I wonder if I yet have life or will.
Upon his wings no spot of white appears,
His plumage black sheds horror down, and fears.
Black are his talons--sharp, like daggers fell;
And like a hound I hear him howl and yell.
His wide-spread pinions hide the light from me;
Heaven dark, and earth a dungeon black I see.
All is in shadow--air and earth and skies--
He even hides the lightning from my eyes.
I cannot see the paleness of my face,
I cannot see the maiden's smiling grace;
Black is the lake, the stars and lilies dark;
What was that cry? The bird's dread calling!--Hark!
But he is cruel, strong, and merciless--
This great black bird;--he heeds not my distress.
Ten years I've lived beneath his deadly wings--
Ten years unceasingly my death-bell rings.
Ten years ago one night it came to pass
On Moda's rock I sat and dreamed; alas,
My foe came to me--Carnal was his name:
He shouted, "Vain are Life and Love and Fame!"
Youthful I was, and armed with Love and Hope
I struggled. "Oh, my soul, arise and cope
With this thy foe, and vanquish him," I cried.
But ’twas in vain, as I full soon espied.
My sun and joy since then are on the wane.
My foe cries out, "I, only I, shall reign!
O’er all the universe none rules but me!"--
Then rose a Siren's voice alluringly. . . .
Nirvana and the flesh held me that hour:
God was asleep--my soul was in their power.
Then on the moon I saw a spot appear;--
It grew, and grew . . . my heart turned sick with fear.
I was as dead. The carrion-eating bird
Had left that heavenly corpse--the moon--allured
To earth by me. It sought my bosom where
The image of Christ crucified lay bare.
Like to the moon, whether I wax or wane
Still am I lifeless, cursed with this bane.
I give the vulture of my flesh to tear,
And shiver when the name of "love" I hear.
While yet I live he is devouring me:
I cannot bear this pain--Oh, set me free!
I am not dead--Love still dwells with me here.
I am alive--and some call me the "Ner." 1
Ah, gruesome bird, art thou not yet content
These ten long years my body to have rent?
Ah, vulture black--black earth and ebon sky,
’Tis time that I should lay me down and die.
100:1 "Ner"--the Antichrist, concerning whom the Armenians have many traditions.