DEEP silence everywhere—a hush profound! One might imagine nature to be dead. Sitting here mournfully, a pilgrim lone, O brilliant moon, I see thee overhead.
Since the beginning of the world and time, Moon, thou hast run thy course. Oh, hast thou seen The poor Armenians, once so fortunate, And dost thou now behold their sufferings keen?
I wonder if thou too, like me, O moon, Seeing Armenia ’neath barbarian feet, Dost shed salt tears of grief and bitterness, And in thy heart do piercing arrows meet?
Thy heart is like a rock, thy conscience dead. How many massacres have met thine eye, How many a carnage! yet thou buildest now Again a bright arch o’er Armenia’s sky.
Wherefore this silence? Speak to me, O lake! Wilt thou not weep with me, whose heart is rent? O breezes, stir the waves to billows high, And with these waters let my tears be blent!
From the beginning all things thou hast seen That in Armenia happened. Tell us, pray, Whether Armenia, once a garden fair, Shall always be a thorny desert gray?
Oh, can it be, our nation, full of woe, Shall ’neath a foreign prince’s sway lie prone? Oh, can it be, the Armenians and their sons Are found unworthy before God’s high throne?
Will a day come when from Mt. Ararat A banner shall be seen, by breezes fanned, And when Armenian pilgrims everywhere Shall start for their beloved fatherland?
’Tis hard, O Heavenly Ruler! but inspire Their souls, and let Thy light of knowledge flame O’er them, to show them what is human life— They by their works shall glorify Thy name!
Upon the lake there shone a sudden light; A graceful maid rose from the waters there; A lighted lantern in one hand she bore, In one a shining lyre of ivory fair.
Was she some nymph, some peerless angel? Nay, A matchless fair Armenian Muse was she. Muse, read the fate of the Armenians! The present and the future tell to me!
That sweet celestial spirit spoke: "Good news I bring to thee, young pilgrim! Dry thine eyes. New, happy days shall come; when reigns God’s will Freely, the Golden Age again shall rise.
"Armenia’s Muses will awake again, And her Parnassus blossom gloriously; The car of Phoebus, shedding light abroad, Shall circle round Armenia’s gloomy sky.
"We too, like thee, passed many mournful days, When a dark night, that seemed it ne’er would cease, Enwrapped Armenia; and we too, dear youth, Have now received the olive branch of peace.
"Wipe thy lyre’s rusted strings with joy to-day, Go to Armenia with an ardent song! Awake the zeal of the Armenians, Their zeal benumbed in lethargy so long.
"The time has come, the time so long desired; Fulfilled is now the old prophetic word; The day will dawn; behold the morning star, A sign made visible—thus saith the Lord!”
Then darkness fell, the figure disappeared; But long was heard the voice of sweetness rare, Mixed with the murmur of the lapping waves, And aromatic fragrance filled the air.
O happy news! O tidings glad and sweet! What joy, fair Muse, for sad and sorrowing men! Tell us, reveal if it be possible For a dead corpse to wake and live again!
RAFFI (Hagop Melik Hagopian) was born in the village of Phayajouk in Salmast, Persia, in 1835, the son of a prominent merchant. Business reverses forced his father to take him from school and put him to work. In 1858 he traveled through Turkish Armenia, and his soul was stirred by the injustice and oppression suffered by the Armenians. In 1872, when Ardzrouni started in Tiflis his famous paper, "Mushak” (The Workman), Raffi became a regular contributor. Aroused by the terrible events of those days, he wrote for it, as serials, a number of patriotic novels—"The Fool,” "Sheik Jelalleddin” and others—which thrilled the people’s hearts and attained immense popularity. Some were historical novels in the style of Sir Walter Scott. He died in 1888, much regretted.