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Mukhran Machavariani – 90

Prepared by Levan Abramishvili
Wednesday, April 17
In the past week, Georgia celebrated Mukhran Machavariani, who would have turned 90 on April 12. One of the most beloved Georgian poets was born on April 12, 1929, in Argveti, Sachkhere Municipality. The first collection of his poems was published in in the student almanac “Pirveli Skhivi” in 1952.

Author of numerous poems, his work was not limited only to poetry. In the years 1963-1964 he worked as chief editor of the magazine Pioneri and Dila (1967-1982). In the years 1988-1992 he was the Chairman of the Georgian Writers’ Union.

Machavariani’s first book Poems was published in 1955. His poems were translated in many languages, including Russian, English, German, Czech, French, and Bulgarian.

Apart from unique lyricism and rhythm, Machavariani’s poems are exceptionally patriotic, which gained him the love of the Georgian public.

“Mukhran lived and dreamed Georgia, he slept and kept vigil with his motherland all over his able body and healthiest of souls. He propped up the nation with his mighty shoulders at times of utmost plight and devastation. He uttered a word of a poet and the nation hoisted it up as a banner of freedom and independence. The power of his overwhelming verse and the pitch of his lovingly recognizable baritone used to be the staples of the spiritual life of the shaken nation for decades, Mukhran wrote and we read, he said and we heard, he reasoned and we succumbed.” Wrote Nugzar Rukhadze, the translator of one of the poems presented to our reads.

Mukhran Machavariani died of a sudden heart attack on May 17, at the age of 81 on the stage of the Rustaveli Theatre, while making a speech at the event dedicated to the 85th anniversary of his fellow poet, Pridon Khalvashi. He is buried at The Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures.

The world never heard any sound, any word of his birth,
for then he was not,
speaking truly,
that great honour worth.

And when he was born in the world
it was spring, so it seems,
and all, to the very last man, were at work in the field.
They ploughed up the soil with a song,
with their slow oxen teams,
and scattered the seed,
which in time would a good harvest yield.

The news of his coming was not common knowledge,
it's true,
and not many people in neighbouring villages knew.

They gave him a name...
He grew up... Then they loaded him down,
with a sack on his back to the miller they packed him that day...
Beyond the small river a meadow was waving full-blown,
and there, like a stream,
a path through the woods wound away.

He glanced at the moon
and was heartily pleased at the sight...
His soul was ablaze,
and his flesh felt the artist's flame...

...He burned like a candle,
but then his young soul's ardent light
never reached very far –
not beyond his own small window-pane.

But slowly his candle took on it the style of a shoot:
it did not grow smaller,
but just like a tree grew and grew,
and that candle –
no larger than his little finger, to boot –
turned into a sun
which illumined the world round him too.

He jumped on his steed –
his soul desired heavenly space...
He galloped away,
and his flesh to reach heaven was fain...
He could not leap over the grave,
and his flesh could not save,
but fell, as so many have done –
in the tomb he was laid.

Thus he died,
and was buried.
That one who was worthy of life...
After climbing the hillside
the people descended again...
And if at his birth
no one struck up the drum and the fife,
and he was unnoticed,
like mushrooms which come after rain –
well then,
when his body was laid 'neath the sod without breath,
when only in poems he'd written
his blood-stream still stirred –
then everyone stood a-trembling with loss at his death,
then all, the whole country, acknowledged
the worth of his word.
Translated by Walter May.

The sun was rising,
The moon was waning,
The cock was crowing,
The chimney was smoking,
Someone was crying,
Someone was whining,
Someone was starving,
Someone was freezing,
The time was passing.
Just as the wine –
From pitcher
To gourd,
From gourd
Into jug,
From jug
Unto bowl –
The soul of Georgia,
Our Georgian blood.
The heart, which is Georgian,
From man to another...
It moved,
And moved,
And moved...
And it came over,
Over and over,
It all came over
And never did stop.
As Kura river...
It was imbibed little by little,
And used to be muddled...
Wasted it was
And dishonored to death,
And heartlessly sold.
It still managed
To find its way
Through hearts of Georgia
Of great Rustaveli
And of great Vakhtang,
Through heart of Tamar
And Saba Sulkhan...
And with Saba's blood
And with Shota's blood
And blood of king Vakhtang,
Flowing through their veins
They walk today
The streets of Tbilisi:
Natia, Nani, Eliso, Vazha,
Let them be out there!
Let them be walking!
Forever, forever,
Forever be walking!
Translated by Nugzar Rukhadze