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