Bedros Tourian’s LITTLE LAKE Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell

Bedros Tourian, the son of an Armenian blacksmith of Scutari, was born in 1851. He lived in great poverty and died of consumption, particularly from pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), in 1872. He left a number of dramas and poems that enjoy a great popularity among his countrymen.

Alice Stone Blackwell was an American feminist, suffragist, journalist, radical socialist, and human rights advocate. (September 14, 1857 – March 15, 1950). She was also the niece of Elizabeth Blackwell, America’s first female physician.

In 1893, Alice took over her mothers’ role as editor in chief of the Woman’s Journal. Around this time, Isabel Chapin Barrows introduced Alice to an Armenian named Ohannes Chatschumian (also transliterated as Hovhannes Khachumian) and to the rapidly deteriorating situation of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire. Alice and Ohannes collaborated on the translation of Armenian poetry and founded the Friends of Armenia to raise awareness and to support the settlement of traumatized refugees. Throughout her later life, Alice used poetry and the skills she gained as a suffrage organizer and journalist to further a wide range of humanitarian and progressive causes.

Source Radcliffe Institute for Advance Study Harvard University.

LITTLE LAKE

Translated by Alice Stone Blackwell

WHY dost thou lie in hushed surprise,
Thou little lonely mere?
Did some fair woman wistfully
Gaze in thy mirror clear?

Or are thy waters calm and still
Admiring the blue sky,
Where shining cloudlets, like thy foam,
Are drifting softly by?

Sad little lake, let us be friends!
I too am desolate;
I too would fain, beneath the sky,
In silence meditate.

As many thoughts are in my mind
As wavelets o’er thee roam;
As many wounds are in my heart
As thou hast flakes of foam.

But if heaven’s constellations all
Should drop into thy breast,
Thou still wouldst not be like my soul, —
A flame-sea without rest.

There, when the air and thou are calm,
The clouds let fall no showers;
The stars that rise there do not set,
And fadeless are the flowers.

Thou art my queen, O little lake !
For e’en when ripples thrill
Thy surface, in thy quivering depths
Thou hold’st me, trembling, still.

Full many have rejected me:
“ What has he but his lyre? ”
“ He trembles, and his face is pale;
His life must soon expire! ”

None said, “ Poor child, why pines he thus?
If he beloved should be,
Haply he might not die, but live, —
Live, and grow fair to see.”

None sought the boy’s sad heart to read,
Nor in its depths to look.
They would have found it was a fire,
And not a printed book!

Nay, ashes now! a memory!
Grow stormy, little mere,
For a despairing man has gazed
Into thy waters clear!

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