As the first month of spring slowly comes to an end, on Thursday 27th April, 18.45 at Asia House Donald Rayfield remembers Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili  (1817-1845). On the occasion of his 200th birth anniversary, Donald Rayfield Emeritus Professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary University of London will give a talk, A Poet Is Born: Nikolaz Baratashvili. For further information and tickets go to the Asia House website.

“I found shelter in a temple that stood in the desert,

Lit by an icon lamp that would never fade.

I heard heaven’s seraphim sing a descant

To David’s harp that the angels played.

A pilgrim in this world, perturbed and weary,

I then resolved to stay there and find rest.

The icon lamp’s celestial radiance cheered me,

By fickle fortune and by human spite depressed.

I offered up pure love, for want of incense,

And consecrated it deep in my heart and soul.

I was so full of sweet and blissful innocence,

I thought I saw a heavenly realm made whole.

The vanishing of joys was ever quicker:

The temple disappeared; the desert ceased to speak.

Now in my heart bliss did not even flicker,

My prospects were instead grim, desolate and bleak.

The temple’s every trace had instantaneously vanished:

Had it fallen victim to time’s malicious eye?

No! The temple loathed a world, treacherous, lying, tarnished.

All I had left was the lamp’s extinguished fire.

Love had failed to restore to me a trace of the temple.

Nowhere could I relight the icon lamp forlorn.

Consolation’s door, slammed in my face by devils,

Left me a roaming pilgrim and a homeless orphan.”

 Nikoloz Baratashvili (1843), translated by Donald Rayfield

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