#ArtsakhPoemsOnHPem | 'New Navasardian, a sullen ode' (Artsakh trilogy, #2) by Harasharzh
November 25, 2020
"New Navasardian, a Sullen Ode" is Harasharzh's second poem published by h-pem.
The poet addresses Daniel Varoujan, a martyr of the Armenian Genocide, looking for wisdom in his eponymous pagan song, while the Artskah war is entering its most virulent phase. Resilience in dealing with loss remains an amorphous mix of grim sacrifice and hope, as the poet evokes the ancient gods of Armenian mythology, and challenges Varoujan in his optimism about the nation's future.
Poet; Writer; Professor
|About the writer||
New Navasardian, a Sullen Ode*
How are we to greet this Autumn, Varoujan?
Cloistered away from cluster bombs,
bunker walls bouncing back our cries
surface to surface, stone to stone—
chorus of collapsing church rooves.
Will we be reborn from these ruins, Varoujan?
Our historic rite and claim
as Anahit’s claws dig deep into Spadaramet’s flesh,
blackened by its fertile dirt—
bowel of war’s unceasing ide.
Where is Anahit’s golden altar, Varoujan?
With whose blood do we dress it?
With what fire do we frame it?
Her hunting dog wails close by, mournful—
"Hov Arek Sarer" deaf to Spandaramet’s sepulchral ears.
How far have the pomegranate seeds scattered, Varoujan?
The sour taste of guns and crosses,
martyrs held close to native earth;
unable to collect the corpses—
invited instead to course Spandaramet’s veins.
You are fed, O Shadow of the Soil,
uncompromising host to thousands of fallen soldiers and counting.
Cups crimson though not with wine,
drunk from the dead, overflowing and frantic—
spilling and staining our soul’s silent edge.
“New Navasardian, a Sullen Ode” is the second poem in what I’m currently calling my “Artsakh Trilogy,” the first having been the poem “Vaspurakan’s Echo.” In this piece, I am responding directly to Daniel Varoujan’s pagan manifesto poem “Navasardian,” and to a lesser extent his pagan song celebrating Anahit. The tone is markedly darker than in “Vaspurakan’s Echo,” as I believe Armenia and Artsakh’s Autumn, which should have been a time of great celebration and reflection, has now been co-opted by the cruelty of war. That said, I am evoking the powerful image of one of our old deities, Spandaramet, to draw a strong contrast against Anahit. According to various sources, Spandaramet represents both the fertility of the earth and the fact that it’s a resting place for the dead. All of the earth was her symbol, but it became synonymous with Hades/Hell in pre-Christian Armenia. In a time of war, the vision of Spandaramet is more accurate than that of Anahit. Our soldiers and our people are experiencing a kind of hell on earth shortly before they join the soil itself. I believe, as this poem is part of a trilogy and occupies the middle position, it should be the one that feels the most hopeless. It is how I, and many others, feel. It doesn’t mean, however, that we will only ever feel this way.
I am attaching Varoujan’s original “Navasardian” as well to reference.
Read Harasharzh's "Vaspurakan's Echo."
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“Condemned as pornography for its eroticism, criticized by feminists for ‘objectifying women,’ and denounced by the Church as anti-Christian—Daniel Varoujan’s Pagan Songs survived a tumultuous reception when it was published in 1912 to begrudgingly become a classic of Armenian poetry.”
Famed Armenian poet Daniel Varoujan’s notorious work has finally been translated—in its entirety—into English, thanks to Hratch Demiurge. The volume also includes an extensive introduction, helpful notes, and appendices.
Now, if the opening of the book’s synopsis up top piqued your interest, be sure to read our exclusive piece by Demiurge, derived from the preface of his translation of Varoujan’s Pagan Songs («Հեթանոս երգեր» | “Hetanos Yerger”).
Then, check out the trailer of "Taniel" («Դանիէլ»), a 2018 multi-award-winning arthouse short film by British writer and director Garo Berberian, which tells the story of the last months of the poet's life before his murder during the Armenian Genocide at the age of 31. You can find it in our video section below!
We Armenians love our pagan festivals: From Vardavar to Trndez to Boon Barekendan, even the most pious Christians will celebrate these “Christianized” holidays with glee. Yet, the most important date for our ancestors in the pre-Christian era is notably missing from our calendars today. Read on to learn about the ancient Armenian holiday of Navasard!