Spring 2004 (12.1)
in a Foreign Country
Almas Ildirim was born in Baku on March
25, 1907. He died in Alazig, Turkey on January 14, 1952. Because
the Bolsheviks established power in Azerbaijan in 1920, the fact
that Ildirim had been born into a wealthy merchant family plagued
him for the rest of his life. For example, though he was accepted
to the faculty of Eastern Literature at Azerbaijan State University,
it wasn't long before they dismissed him because of his family
In 1926, co-authored a book of poems, "Yesterday is Today"
(Dun Bu Gun) with Suleyman Rustam. Ildirim was exiled to Dagestan
for the nationalistic ideas in his poems. While in exile, he
wrote "Memories from the Mountains,"(Daghlardan Xatiralar),
"Lezgi Lands" (Lazgi Elleri), "Nights in Crimea"
(Krimda Akhshamlar), "Salimkhan," and "Whose Sin
is This?" (Gunah Kimdadir?). Two years later, he returned
to Baku and published a collection of poems entitled, "When
Mountains Make a Sound" (Daghlar Saslanarkan, 1930). However,
the distribution of this book was prohibited and the author was
banned from the Writers' Union.
Again, he was exiled, this time to Turkmenistan where he worked
as a school director. But because he was constantly repressed,
he decided to escape to Iran with his family. However, while
crossing the border into Iran, he was caught and made to stay
in water up to his chest for 25 days. Upon being released, he
decided to leave for Eastern Anatolia in Turkey.
Many of his works describe the longing he had for his native
land. He published his poems about his love and longing for his
country in the magazines "Salvation" (Gurtulush) in
Germany, "Under the Plane Tree" (Chinar Alti) in Kars,
as well as "Kok Boru," "Organ," "Waiting"
(Ozleyish) and in "Van" newspaper in Turkey. He published
his poems that he had written up until 1936 in the book, "Undying
Poem." Other books are "Azerbaijani Songs" and
These poems were translated
from Azeri into English by Aytan Aliyeva and edited by Betty
Why Was I Born a Poet?
What else can I write about my country?
Enemies spread poison and friends hide.
I don't know why the poet who loves his country
Is spied upon as a criminal?
I didn't bar anybody's way and
I wasn't a robber.
I didn't disturb anybody's quiet life.
I wasn't a bloody flower for my country,
I didn't impose any death sentence on anybody
Why am I a stranger in this foreign country,
It's as if I'm surrounded by a prison and I'm suffocating.
Why was I born to be a poet,
In a cursed time and condemned land?
My Slave Azerbaijan
Where are you,
Who gave me birth among flowers,
Who made my dough with tears,
Who sang, "Lullaby, my baby" in my cradle?
Azerbaijan-my ill-fated mother, ahh
I have been longing for you for years, ahh
If the wind takes my greetings,
Passing it from Agri to Alagoz1
And delivering my loud voice to the blue Caspian,
I wish the Caspian would storm and break its chain, ahh!
And order this idiocy to be stopped, ahh!
Oh, to receive news from my
Mughan and Mil 2
From my beloved Baku-my oil-smelling flower,
Who said I've stopped calling your name?
Azerbaijan, my land with no equal, ahh!
The love and grief inside me will never die, ahh!
I made you the only Kaaba3 in my heart,
Why do I need to live in a strange country without you?
Why do I need God or religion without you?
Azerbaijan, you are my crown, you are my throne, ahh!
Won't my blind fate wake up, ahh?!
1 Agri and Alagoz are mountains in Azerbaijan
2 Mughan and Mil are plains in Azerbaijan.
3 The black sacred shrine at Mecca towards which believers
turn while praying.
I am a lover, if my body burns
in icy hell,
These fearful mountains cannot stand my inexhaustible mourning
If the angels present paradise to me
I would tell them:
I don't want paradise,
Give me my Caucasus!
Love for the Caucasus is worth
Than this world filled with jewels,
If they say,
Forget about your country
and take "The New World"*
I would tell them,
Give me my love,
Give me my rights,
Give me my land,
Let the whole world hear my voice,
Which cannot be stiffled.
* Here the term, "New World"
I Believe in Youth
Shred, break, and chew my heart
if you wish,
But I still have an inexhaustible soul for this struggle!
Be Death and circle around my head every moment,
Still will create one more rebellion against you one day!
Did you like when I kept my
silence for awhile?
Your order that made me vomit blood
Cannot make me give up!
You, on whose breast I was born and took my first steps,
The blood running through my veins is devoted to you!
My friends, my love is eternal
Who can steal this charming beauty from my heart?
There is no power that can destroy the intent of my heart,
Because I have faith in that day of salvation!
Don't pay attention; I am wounded
Let my stormy youth pass
I know that I will not be disgraced,
I have hope and faith in my country's youth.
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AI 12.1 (Spring 2004)
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