"Then to the rolling Heav'n itself I cried
Asking, 'What Lamp had Destiny to guide
Her little children stumbling in the dark?'
And - 'A blind understanding!' Heav'n replied."

Omar Khayyam, Rubayat XXXIII

The Last Song

Shant Norashkharian

In the darker rooms of truth and sorrow
I heard an old song, a murmur of woe,
"Is that you, is it, grandmother dear?"
I asked that sweet voice,"why have you come here?
"Am I still a child, stumbling in the dark
Alone like a tree in a treeless park?
Have you really come to soothe my tired mind
To give me your warm hug with arms so kind?
O that little song that you sang for me
Could I just one time, just one more time hear?
The song stronger than sounds of fury
Than the blood that runs in heart's artery
Than the suppressed roars of stormy shores
Or the ruthless rage of deafening wars...
Where are Armenia's heroes of old times
When will our churches ring their bells and chimes
In all of our lands, in all of our towns
From Ardahan to Ani and Gars?
On the horizons of darkness and fear
When will our warriors begin to appear?
Is that the same song, grandmother dear
That you sang marching with tear after tear
Into the desert of famine and death
To resist, endure until your last breath
So that I may now be alive and tell
To the whole world your suffering in hell
How you were forced out by the savage Turk
Of your ancient home, land of ancestors
And how they tortured and raped your loved ones
And killed and wounded all three of your sons...?
Is that the same song, is that the same song
That you sang often in that journey long
That you had learned from that silent mother
Who for six days with no food or water
Was left with two things, her song and her soul
To give to her two and her six year old
Who died in her arms and left her alone
With their sweet smile and their painful moan...?
Then she begged the guards for only one thing
For a little time to stay there and sing
And to bury them, say the last farewell
On her knees she begged, on her knees she fell
Even then they killed for third time her heart
They did not allow her not even that...
O grandmother, sweet grandmother,
Is that the same song that my sad father
Was heard singing just before his final breath
Is that the same song, the last song of death?
* * *
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Copyright 1996 by Shant Norashkharian