Azerbaijan International

Spring 2004 (12.1)
Pages 64-65

Vagif Bayatly Oner
Let's Dance from Birth to Death!

Vagif Bayatly Oner was born in October 1948 in Jabrayil, a district in Karabakh now militarily occupied by Armenia. His academic training was in construction engineering and architecture from the Azerbaijan Construction Engineers University.

His major books of poetry include: "Under a Lonely Star", "All Love Stories Will Be Forgotten", and "The Funniest Dead Man". His poetry has been translated into more than 30 languages, including a major book of poetry published in Moscow (translated into Russian).

His prizes include the Mayakovski Prize for Poetry and the Jalil Mammadguluzade Prize founded by Azerbaijan's Press Foundation. "Funniest Dead Man" was awarded "The Best Poetry Book of the Year" in 1998. The Yugh Theater in Baku staged a special performance based on the selected poems from "Funniest Dead Man".

Vagif has translated numerous works into Azeri, including some of the most famous Austrian, English, Scottish, Italian, Norwegian, Turkish, and Russian poets, such as Rainer Maria Rilke, Thomas Eliot, Robert Burns, Boris Pasternak, Anna Akhmatova, Nikolay Gumilyov and Osip Mandelstam. These poems were translated into English by Tamam Bayatly.

More than Anyone Else

I can neither be the strongest man in the world,
Nor do I want to be.
I don't want anyone to be afraid of me.

I can neither be the wealthiest man in the world,
Nor do I want to be.
For me the greatest wealth in the world,
is a tiny tent with a smiling face and eyes, with an open door and windows!

I can neither love you more than anyone else in the world,
Nor do I want to love you so.
Because only those who love insincerely
Love more than anyone else.

I want to love you quietly and gently,
I want to love you as destined by God,
Like a small bird that has nestled against the tiny corner of its nest.

Children and Letters
(To my little friend Elshan Gujlu)

The biggest eyes in the world
Belong to flowers and to children.

Most incomprehensible to adults are the words,
Which children whisper to flowers,
And flowers to children.

To children,
A mirror is a marvellous plate full of water,
Everything is alive,
Everything is readable to children

Because their hearts are big
Like their eyes,
Children write
The name of everything
In big letters.

As their fingers, which hold the pen
Grow larger and stronger,
As the children themselves
Grow larger and stronger,
The letters, in which they write
Become smaller,
And the flowers come to talk to them
In an incomprehensible language as well.

Why Did I Love You So

Why did I love you so,
Did I want you so,
For the one thousand thorns,
And one thousand roses
In my soul,
Why did I want you so?!

I hid this soul in love,
But is there a person
Who did not see it?!
Why did I both hide it and
Also wish everyone to be aware?!

I begged God
Day and night and every moment
To make you my sultan
For a thousand years,
And why did I beg God
To also make you my slave?!

Child Who Dances For the Wedding

Child, who dances for the wedding of the neighbor
Ten houses away,
Under the leaf of a rose,
In the shape of a rose petal,

Your destiny is being writ large on your face.
Child who dances
For the wedding of the neighbor ten houses away,
Come out from under the leaf,
The Moon is gazing at you.

The sky has just cleared from the rain,
No one has yet crossed the skies,
Sinners have not yet looked up
To the Heavens in prayer,
The Moon is gazing at you
Come out from under the leaf.
You are yourself like the sky
Just after the rain,
Child who dances
For the wedding of his neighbor
ten houses away.

Look! Seeing your dance,
Angels in the sky
Raise their arms to dance
ten skies away.

Seventeenth Year

A girl in her seventeenth year
Could not sleep a wink
On a moonlit night.
Wherever she went the next day,
The moon descended from the sky
And followed her.

The girl saw the moon,
Became shy and lost her way,
Her eyes lit with moonlight,
Looking back, now and then,
She would smile at the moon
That was following her.

When a girl in her seventeenth year
Smiles to think,
Either the moon follows her,
Or the moonlight wanders in her face and eyes.

I Make Flowers from People

I want to smell people like a flower,
Making flowers from people.
But they do not want to turn into flowers
So I make people from flowers.
People say, no man can be created from a flower,
God has made people of clay
You should also make them of clay.
I make people of clay,
I recite poems and
Write poetry for them,
But it's not a poem
That they want from me,
It's clay flowers that clay men want,
I make clay flowers for them,
Clay boys take the clay flowers to clay girls.
Seeing the clay flowers,
Clay women give birth to clay babies.
Maybe God loves the smell of clay,
And, therefore, He keeps creating Clay people.
But, My Lord, it is not the smell of Clay
That I want,
I want the smell of a flower,
So I make people from flowers once again,
I make flower paths, flower houses for them,
I make flower drinks for flower poets,
Flower prisons for flower prisoners,
But they again say
We don't want them made of flowers,
God has made everything of clay,
So you should also make us of clay,
I tell them, "Stop",
For the last time at least
Let me smell you like a flower
Before you turn into clay.

I smell the flowers
For the last time in the world.
My God, what have You done to them,
Even flowers smell of clay?!

Let's Dance From Birth to Death

Let's dance,
Two-by-two! One-by-one!
Let's dance,
From birth to death!

Let's dance
Even when in tears,
With no stop and interruption,
From under our feet
Let the rhythm move
Back and forth.

Let's dance,
Raise the old man from his coffin.
I can see from his shroud
How he moves his arms and legs,
He is unwilling yet
To make his way to his grave,
Raise him to his last life dance,
As well as his first death dance.

Also raise the baby from its cot
I can see in its eyes
It's his music being played.
Rise, baby, rise! Let's dance
Arm-in-arm, hand-in-hand with everyone!
Be forbidden from now on
Kiss of lips and kiss of cheeks,
Let the names of lovers
Kiss each other,
Let the wings of garments,
The tunes of feet flying high,
And the breath of fingers
Swinging light,
Kiss one another.
All dancing
Face-to-face, eye-to-eye,
Let's cross beyond countries
And over the seas, all dancing,
Let's go beyond this world
and cross the universe.

And also, in the heavens
Hand-in-hand, arm-in-arm forever!
Look how both angels and devils
are moving,
Dancing side-by-side,
and together with the stars,
God is also applauding you.

Both As A Woman and Like God

Again, again in the world
Even if everything changes,
The way men die
will remain unchanged.
Eyes will again render a verdict,
Women's glances will again take men's lives,
Even if God does not forgive,
All unforgivable sins of men
Will be forgiven by women.

Seeing how a human being
Forgives sins,
The heavens will also smile,
And as God's response to this,
God himself will forgive
all his lamb-like creatures at once.

Both as a woman and like God,
Every woman thinks
Every day and every moment,
Without even knowing herself,
That she is both a woman and God.
She listens to confessions
as a woman,
But she forgives them
Like God.

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