Azerbaijan International

Spring 1999 (7.1)
Page 52

Quest for Freedom

Khalil Reza - Husein OrdukhanAzerbaijan's independence did not come until 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. However, the quest for freedom is clearly predominant in many works beginning in the 1960s. The message comes through, sometimes subtle and often symbolically disguised. Frequently writers projected their own desires for freedom onto a different historical period or a different geographic location. In such a way, they were able to gain the approval of censors and get their works published. Some of these works were penned during that period but shoved away in drawers until the late 1980s when the movement for independence already had gained a heady momentum.

Illustration: The power of print to motivate by Husein Ordukhan.

Khalil Reza

The Poet's Voice 1

I don't want freedom gram by gram, grain by grain.
I have to break this steel chain with my teeth!
I don't want freedom as a drug, as a medicine,
I want it as the sun, as the earth, as the heavens!
Step, step aside, you invader!
I am the loud voice of this land!
I don't need a puny spring,
I am thirsting for oceans!

This poem has also been published with the title "The Voice of Africa." During the Soviet period, many Azeri poets used other geographical locations in their poems to disguise their feelings about their own country and their own situation so that the Soviet censors would not suspect the true meaning and ban their works.

Translated by Aynur Hajiyeva

From Azerbaijan International (7.1) Spring 1999.
© Azerbaijan International 1999. All rights reserved.

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