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Akhtamar
Hovhannes Toumanian

Into the moonlit waters of the sea of Van,
From the shores of a tiny hamlet,
Enters the water as thief in the night,
Each and every night a lad.

He enters the water without a boat,
With arms powerful and virile,
Parting the water he swims on,
Towards the island on the opposite shore.

From the dark island, clear and bright
A beaming light beckons him on,
A powerful beacon just for him,
To help guide him on his path.

The fair Tamar every night,
Prepares a fire on that isle,
And she awaits him impatiently,
In the dark bushes nearby.

The untame water crashes and roars,
And the lad's heart crashes along,
The water howls in frightful screams,
And fight it does menacingly.

Now Tamar, with her heart pounding,
Finally hears the sounds nearby,
The splashing of water and with all her being,
She's ablaze with love severe.

Silence, along the dark shore,
Stands a lone shadowy figure,
Alas! It's he, they find each other,
On this mysterious quiet night.

Only the waves of the sea of Van,
Now gently caress its shores,
Subsiding as they retreat,
Murmuring unintelligibly.

You may say they're whispering
And the stars arched above,
Glance down and slander away,
At impudent, shameless Tamar...

Their gaze disturbs the maiden's heart,
It's time to part...and once again,
One enters the turbulent sea,
Whilst the other prays on its shore...

Who might that daring young man be?
Intoxicated with his love,
His heart void of dread or fear,
He crosses the sea by night?

He swims from the opposite shore,
And our Tamar he does kiss,
Snatching a girl from our own hands,
What does he take us for?

Thus they spoke in bitter pain,
The young men of this island,
And Tamar's hand-lit light,
They extinguished this one night.

Bewildered in the darkened sea,
The swimmer lad, her beloved,
And the wind lifts and it carries,
His merciful sighs, "Ah! Tamar!"

His voice is near, in the deafening darkness,
Wedged between the jagged rocks,
Where the untamed water roars,
At times muffled and at times lost,
And at times feebly heard, "Ah! Tamar!"

At dawn the calm water floats in,
Upon the shore it leaves a corpse,
On his stiffened and frozen lips,
Perhaps you'd say at time of death,
Frozen were two words, "Ah! Tamar!"

For this reason since that day,
The island was named "AKHTAMAR."


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About The Poet


Hovhannes Toumanian
(1869-1923)

Hovannes Toumanian was born on the 19th of February 1869, in a little village in Armenia.

He received his education in Tiflis, the cultural and political center of that era. He attended the Nersisian seminary but due to the death of his father, was forced to return to Armenia to care for his family.

At the young age of nineteen, Toumanian was married and in due time fathered ten children. In 1890, Toumanian's first collection of poems were published.

One of Toumanian's famous quotes was, "I always had the most important guide - my intuition." His creations had a common theme, that of attempting to emulate harmony. His four line verses were unique patterns of the heavenly power of the human mind.

Toumanian created many fascinating fairy tales famous among which was "Kaj - Nazar." Well known poet Avetik Issahakian said of Toumanian, "His talent and role in the Armenian poetry, is like a mountain stream which gives travelers new powers and fresh breathe." Two of his works, "Anoush" and "Almast," were converted to operas, which are still showcased today.

Toumanian died in 1923.