Selected Georgian poems
translated by Kevin Tuite

Galakt’ion T’abidze
mzeo tibatvisa (Sun of haying-month)
mzeo tibatvisa, mzeo tibatvisa
locvad muxlmoq’rili graals ševedrebi.
igi, vinc miq’varda didi siq’varulit,
prtebit daipare — amas gevedrebi.

t’anjva-gansacdelši tvalni miuriden.
suli mouvline isev šenmieri,
dila gautene isev ciuridan,
suli umank’ota miec švenieri.
xanma undobarma,gza rom šeeɣeba,
uxvad moit’ana sisxli da cxedrebi,
mdzapri kart’exili mas nu šeexeba,
mzeo tibatvisa, amas gevedrebi.

Sun of haying-month, sun of haying-month,
I kneel deep in prayer, like a grail knight here.
That one whom I loved deeply, with great love,
Shelter in your wings. This I pray of you.

Mishap, suffering comes — turn your eyes from her.
Touch her soul instead — make her strong again.
Morning bring to her light from heaven again.
Give her soul repose, blessed unspottedness.
When in troubled times she must walk a path
Red with dead men’s gore, history’s victim’s blood,
May she be untouched by the whirlwind’s force.
Sun of haying-month, this I pray of you.

Besik’ Xaranauli
tito ra
ɣac ak’ldeba
titkos kalaki
nel-nela kreba
ɣali mtebi vak’deba
da cas ak’ldeba
varsk’vlavta c’q’eba...
ase vpikrobdi,
ase megona,
da araperi a
ɣar miq’varda
da ar vicodi,
tu es ušno xe
čemtvis saq’varel naq’ops isxamda.

diminishes in some way
as though a city
slowly disappears
as though
high mountains flatten out
and the sky diminishes
constellations fade...
So I used to think
so it seemed to me
and so I loved no longer
I didn’t know
that this unhandsome tree
would yet shake down such lovely fruit for me.

Lado Asatiani “me miq’vars, roca q’anaši gaxval”
I love it when you go out to the fields
And the corn sends its lances against you.
I love it when you go out to the fields
And become soaked with morning’s soft moisture.
For if you had not encountered this once
You would expire, the word still unuttered.
Or when you begin the second hoeing,
And moist clods of earth slough off on your feet ...
If you felt this, then at life’s close the word —
Juicy and potent — will not be sloughed off.
As I relish the scent of a woman’s hair
So the mist rising from newly-ploughed earth.
It quickens my pulse, excites my wild blood,
Sharpens my hunger for masculine verse.
As I relish the scent of a woman’s hair
So I am drunk with the smell of corn whiskers ...
When I make ready to utter my poem,
I am blood-flecked with Mingrelian wine.
I only honor the names of the ones
Who in this way bring life’s very essence.
Only the fire they light can engulf me —
The fire of believers in creative force.

Nik’oloz Baratašvili
Saq’ure (Earring)
vita p’ep’ela
arxevs nel-nela
sp’et’ak’s šrošans, lamazad axrils,

ase saq’ure
ucxo saq’ure,
etamašeba tavissa ačrdils.
net’avi imas
vinc taviss suntkvas
šensa črdilšia moibrunebdes!
šenis šerxevit,
gulisa sicxes ganigrilebdes!
hoy, saq’ureo,
grdznebit amrevo,
vin bage šens kveš dait’k’barunos?

mun uk’vdavebis
šarbati vin svis?
vin suli tvisi zed dagak’onos?

As a butterfly
so slowly ripples
a spotless lily of exquisite curves,

just so this earring,
this wild, strange earring,
dances, plays with its shadow and swerves.
May that soft air
breathed in your shadow
return to the source from whence it had gushed!
And may your swaying
stir up a breeze,
by which the overhot heart is refreshed!
Oh, earring, ’tis magic
that set you in motion,
or is it those lips in motion below?

Who feeds on the sherbet
of life without death,
and with the small soul above binds her soul?

I. The Victim of the City (1984)
Whenever something bad is about to happen
I dream of a crane
standing, not in the meadow like a daisy,
but in the street, on one foot,
where it is twice as white and elongated
yet no one sees it —
it is lost somehow against the background of the city ...
The city: traffic of men
and machines.
so endless and senseless
like fetching water in a sieve,
stopping is the equivalent of dying;
and in such a place who cares about a crane —
tossed out of some stir-crazy dream —
or a man
who extends his neck like a crane
so they’ll notice him
(if he were to spread out his wings
he would look rather crucified
and arouse a thousand questions,
wonder, sympathy,. . .)
So, all winged creatures must be erased
from the paperlike colorless sky
so as not to interfere with the people striding forward
not looking back or to the side —
their foreheads leaned against the horizon.
But if any of them were to dream
of a crane, vivid
like a daisy held by a green meadow in its hand,
or if any of them were to stop for a minute —
forehead thrown forward, hatchet-like —
it would no longer be possible to pass by, as strangers do,
a deficient man's hypocrisy
or a misshapen woman
who extends her neck Iike a crane
so they'll notice her;
and now the city will practice on such a one
its gift for ignoring
which has become almost an art ...

II. He saw a naked woman (1980)
He saw a naked woman
for the first time in his life,
and told his parents
that millstones crossed over his chest
and fell there, jaundiced. ... His mother
stood by the window in such a way,
bread and a cutting-knife in her hands,
that the light sucked her in
up to the very end
up to the longish clusters of fingers and toes.
Only later, on the surface of night
a slice of bread bobbed up and down ...
and then a solitary man said
— how easy it is to speak the truth!
If they would throw stones into the pupils of our eyes
as into a well,
if the waters would gather above our heads,
the millstone's weight still will fill our chests
and the light, insatiable, unbroken
sucking in our bodily forms
up to the tips of our fingernails ...
Then, on the surface of time
perhaps a word will bob up and down —
the only one
you should expect
from a millstone-crossed chest ...
III. There must be something (1984)
There must be something for the sake of which
you would offer up yourself —
either the silk of banners
or words which glide like silk ...
although the city harangues you day and night —
your familiar enemy —
you are fortunate (they say)
because you have organized your existence.
You lack neither a name
nor life's little pleasures;
but, when you think about this question —
who knows? for it is in the picture-richness of words
that you are bound, as though by chains ...
So, you sincerely wish to be a butterfly
more than any other living thing
because it neither eats nor drinks
nor takes thought for any other shameful necessity,
nor does it take account
of whom it is stronger or weaker than —
that it accordingly might tremble or flatter —
it flutters about for its own sake, and dies
in its world of flowers .. .
The mental equipment in its velvety body
was not installed by God
and so it does not know that winter
plasters over the world of flowers with lime
as unbelievers cover over the frescoes in a church,*
and compels the proud, powerful wolf
to run to and fro like a starving beggar,
while letting the craven rabbit
roll in the drooping lap of luxury
and learn the potential of its warren ...
Winter is harsh, one-sided —
both falsetto** bud and baritone volcano
terminate on its starched white-bordered chest ...
And isn't it better than such running around
or shivering in one's warren:
the butterfly's transitory world, brief as a flutter —
one moment multicolored, the next moment twilight-colored —
where it is possible to offer up yourself
for banner or man
or soil or book.

*The plastering over of frescoes has, unfortunately, been an all-too-frequent occurrence in Georgian history. The Russians are the most recent perpetrators of this iconoclasm.

**The terms translated "falsetto" (k'rini) and "baritone" (bani) refer to the high and low (drone) voice respectively in traditional West Georgian folk singing.

Ana K’alandadze: Four poems
gabrc’qinebuli iq’o t’adzari,
cecxlma aavso da tvalta sxivman
xma gugunebda gumbationit:
«šekmen sapase, ver garq’vnas mɣilman!»

šens lamaz saxes k’elapt’ris ali
miɣma kveq’niur sinatles hpenda..
xma gugunebda isev da isev:
«saxls nu aageb kvišasa zeda!»
gadgs šoreuli momc’vano elva
kerubionis, cata mq’opisa...
k’vlav čurčulebda moxuci mate:
«šen xar marili ama soplisa!»
gacisk’rebuli iq’o t’adzari...

The cathedral glowed with a brilliant glow,
Fire did fill it, and glistening eyes...
A voice intoned, the cupola thrummed:
"Store up treasure which no moth destroys."

The taper’s flame thy winsome face
With other-worldly light has fanned.
The voice intoned again and again:
"Build thou not thy house on sand."
The distant flash of cherubic life
With greenish hue above thee swirls...
The old man Matthew is whispering still:
"For thou art the salt of this world."
The cathedral gleamed with the early dawn...

II. Aragvtan
kvac rom gdia
grdznebit mavsebs
mtovi bangisao...
ras kirkileb,
bevri gesmis

By the Aragvi
scattered stones fill me
with weird-craft
sticks too...
opium snowing...
you snicker!
worthless one -
you are so far
from knowing!

c’q’aros k’amk’amebs
c’q’nar šemodgomis
ɣvtaebriv surnels aprkvevs
k’ak’alis potolta

a cool spring’s cut-crystal
in sunlight of somnolent
a godly aroma suffuses...
from walnut-tree foliage

IV. Ianvris q’vavilebi upliscixeši  (January flowers at Uplistsikhe)
ucxo q’vavilis gamxmar ɣeroebs
kvis xeobaši mart’odɣa štenilt
rad čaukindravt tavi mc’uxared?
mat gardasuli sit’urpec švenit...
rad mist’irian tavis gvirgvinebs
gadzrcvilt,ganp’irult dzvirpasi tvlebit?
mat araperi kveq’nad ar undat —
tvis sulis mdzime glovaši tvlemen...

k’acta enaze gulkva k’ldeebi
mat daicaven avi karebit.
ugvirgvinot da araprismkonet
tavis c’iaɣši šeipareben...
karebis guguns, ɣrubelta krolas
ar aɣibeč’den mati sulebi?
gamoiɣeben k’vlav axal potols
da tvis gvirgvinebs daibruneben.

Dried stems of alien flowers
left alone in a rocky gorge —
such sad drooping heads, how so?
Still, faded beauty suits them...
Why weep for stolen crowns,
precious stones, plundered, lost?
Nothing worldly stirs desire —
in heavy grief of soul they slumber...

Stone-heart cliffs, malignant winds
(so they seem to us) stand guard.
Without crowns, possessions none,
they are sheltered in their womb...
Winds’ roar and blowing clouds —
this is what their souls reflect?
They will yet take up new leaves
and their crowns return once more.

Marine Xucišvili

ɣame betaniis gzaze (Night on the road to Betania)
mik’iot’i k’ioda,
mtvare medga tavze
ɣrubels dardi mihkonda
oxšivarit savse.
betaniis ɣameul
sizmareul rok’vas
dagubebul sigizhis
amoxetkva lok’avs.
ɣame locvas ambobda,
ɣame iq’o c’q’nari,
alionze mostkvamda
balaxebis cvari.
cas čamosc’q’da  mnatobi,
sizmarivit erti,
mart’oobas čioda
betaniis ɣmerti.

A night owl screeched its presence,
above me the moon kept watch;
Clouds bore a sad burden
with vaporous touch.
Dammed-up lunacy unloosed,
spills forth, rants;
Licks at Betania’s
night-time dreamlike dance.
Night recited a prayer —
the night was calm,
Dew on the grass lamented
the coming dawn.
One, as a dream, there broke
from the sky’s domain
A light: Betania’s god
of loneliness complained.