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Yeghishe Charents

Yeghishe Charents

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Yeghishe Charents was an Armenian
Armenian people or Armenians are a nation and ethnic group native to the Armenian Highland.The largest concentration is in Armenia having a nearly-homogeneous population with 97.9% or 3,145,354 being ethnic Armenian....

 poet, writer and public activist. Charents was an outstanding poet of the twentieth century, touching upon a multitude of topics that ranged from his experiences in the First World War, socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

, and, more prominently, on Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

 and Armenians.

An early champion of communism
Communism is a social, political and economic ideology that aims at the establishment of a classless, moneyless, revolutionary and stateless socialist society structured upon common ownership of the means of production...

, Charents joined the Bolshevik party, but as the Stalinist terror
Terror may refer to:*Fear, an emotional response to threats and danger*Terror, a political strategy of the asymmetrical use of threats and violence against enemies using means that fall outside the routine forms of political struggle operating within some current regime*Terrorism, the fact of...

 began in the 1930s, he gradually grew disillusioned with Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...

 and was executed during the 1930s purges.

Early life

Yeghishe Charents was born Yeghishe Soghomonyan in Kars (then a part of the Russian Empire) in 1897 to a family involved in the rug
A carpet is a textile floor covering consisting of an upper layer of "pile" attached to a backing. The pile is generally either made from wool or a manmade fibre such as polypropylene,nylon or polyester and usually consists of twisted tufts which are often heat-treated to maintain their...

 trade. He first attended an Armenian, but later transferred to a Russian, technical secondary school in Kars from 1908 to 1912. In 1912, he had his first poem published in the Armenian periodical Patani (Tiflis). Amid the upheavals of the First World War and the Armenian Genocide
Armenian Genocide
The Armenian Genocide—also known as the Armenian Holocaust, the Armenian Massacres and, by Armenians, as the Great Crime—refers to the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I...

 in the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

, he volunteered to fight in a detachment in 1915 for the Caucasian Front
Caucasus Campaign
The Caucasus Campaign comprised armed conflicts between the Ottoman Empire and the Russian Empire, later including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Central Caspian Dictatorship and the UK as part of the Middle Eastern theatre or alternatively named as part of the Caucasus Campaign during World War I...

. Sent to Van
Van, Turkey
Van is a city in southeastern Turkey and the seat of the Kurdish-majority Van Province, and is located on the eastern shore of Lake Van. The city's official population in 2010 was 367,419, but many estimates put this as much higher with a 1996 estimate stating 500,000 and former Mayor Burhan...

 in 1915, Charents was witness to the destruction that the Turkish garrison had laid upon the Armenian population, leaving indelible memories that would later be read in his poems. He left the front one year later, attending school at the Shanyavski People's University
Russian State University for the Humanities
The Russian State University for the Humanities , is a university in Moscow, Russia with over 5500 students. It was created in 1991 as the result of the merger of the Moscow Public University and the Moscow State Institute for History and Archives The Russian State University for the Humanities...

 in Moscow. The horrors of the war and genocide had scarred Charents and he became a fervent supporter of the Bolsheviks, seeing them as the one true hope to saving Armenia.

Charents joined the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 and fought during the Russian Civil War
Russian Civil War
The Russian Civil War was a multi-party war that occurred within the former Russian Empire after the Russian provisional government collapsed to the Soviets, under the domination of the Bolshevik party. Soviet forces first assumed power in Petrograd The Russian Civil War (1917–1923) was a...

 as a rank and file soldier in Russia and the Caucasus. In 1919, he returned to Armenia and took part in revolutionary activities there. A year later, he began work at the Ministry of Education as the director of the Art Department. Charents would also once again take up arms, this time against his fellow Armenians, as a rebellion took place against Soviet rule in February 1921. Then, Charents published his satirical novel, Land of Nairi (Yerkir Nairi), which became a great success and twice published in Russian in Moscow during the life of poet.


Some of Charents' experiences would later appear in his poetry.

He had two daughters, Arpenik
Arpenik Charents
Arpenik Charents was an Armenian writer, literary critic, specialist in Charents studies. She is the daughter of the great Armenian poet Yeghishe Charents....

 and Anahit.


A victim of Stalinism, he was imprisoned and died in prison during the 1937 Great Purge
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

. He was rehabilitated in 1954 after Stalin's death.


His works were translated by Valeri Bryusov, Anna Akhmatova
Anna Akhmatova
Anna Andreyevna Gorenko , better known by the pen name Anna Akhmatova , was a Russian and Soviet modernist poet, one of the most acclaimed writers in the Russian canon.Harrington p11...

, Boris Pasternak
Boris Pasternak
Boris Leonidovich Pasternak was a Russian language poet, novelist, and literary translator. In his native Russia, Pasternak's anthology My Sister Life, is one of the most influential collections ever published in the Russian language...

, Arseny Tarkovsky
Arseny Tarkovsky
Arseny Alexandrovich Tarkovsky was a prominent Soviet and Russian poet and translator. He is considered one of the great 20th century Russian poets. He was also the father of influential film director Andrei Tarkovsky.-Origin:...

, Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon
Louis Aragon , was a French poet, novelist and editor, a long-time member of the Communist Party and a member of the Académie Goncourt.- Early life :...

, Marzbed Margossian, Diana Der Hovanessian, and others.

Charent's younger friend, Regina Ghazaryan
Regina Ghazaryan
Regina Tadevosi Ghazaryan was an Armenian painter and public figure. She is also well-known as Yeghishe Charent's younger friend, who saved many manuscripts of the Armenian poet during the Stalinism.-Biography:...

 saved many manuscripts of the Armenian poet during the Stalinism
Stalinism refers to the ideology that Joseph Stalin conceived and implemented in the Soviet Union, and is generally considered a branch of Marxist–Leninist ideology but considered by some historians to be a significant deviation from this philosophy...


His home at 17 Mashtots Avenue in Yerevan was turned into a museum in 1975. The Armenian city Charentsavan
Charentsavan is a city located in the Kotayk Province of Armenia. Its population of 19,708 people at the 2001 census has since declined. The city was founded in 1948, and renamed in 1967 in honor of the poet Yeghishe Charents.- References :...

 was named after him.

The first monograph on Charents was published by Simon Hakobyan (1888–1937) in 1924 in Vienna. Among the other researchers of Charents' poetry during that period were P. Makintsyan, H. Surkhatyan, T. Hakhumyan. After the Stalinist terror in 1937 charentsology was banned for 17 years. In 1954 N. Dabaghyan (who previously attacked Charents in the 1930s) published "Yeghishe Charents" critical monograph. Researches on Charents were published by H. Salakhyan, S. Aghababyan, Almast Zakaryan, Anahit Charents, D. Gasparyan and others.


His last collection of poems, "The Book of The Way", was printed in 1933, but its distribution was delayed by the Soviet government until 1934, when it was reissued with some revisions. In this book the authors lays out the panorama of Armenian history and reviews it part-by-part.

Charents also translated many works into Armenian, such as "The Internationale
The Internationale
The Internationale is a famous socialist, communist, social-democratic and anarchist anthem.The Internationale became the anthem of international socialism, and gained particular fame under the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1944, when it was that communist state's de facto central anthem...

  • "Three songs to the sad and pale girl...", poems (1914)
  • "Blue-eyed Homeland", poem (1915)
  • "Dantesque legend", poem (1915–1916)
  • "Soma", poem (1918)
  • "Charents-Name", poem (1922)
  • "Uncle Lenin", poem (1924)
  • "Country of Nairi" (Yerkir Nairi) (1926)
  • "Epical Sunrise", poems (1930)
  • "Book of the Way", poems (1933–34)

External links