Poetry

Reading in Georgian : Galaktion Tabidze გალაკტიონ ტაბიძე

Poetry is a big feature of Georgian culture. Many of the important streets in Tbilisi are named after Georgian poets…Chavchavadze, Rustaveli, Tsereteli, Vazha-Pshavela etc… sadly these Georgian poets are hardly known in the English speaking world. One street with high class restaurants is named Tabidze Street after the poet Galaktion Tabidze (1891-1959). I have a book of Tabidze’s poems with English translations by Innes Merabishvili. I am trying to learn one of these by heart, perhaps his most famous poem… ქარი ჰქრის… (Blows the wind)

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Galaktion Tabidze “Poems”

The poem published in 1924  is 10 lines long (the first and last are the same, which makes my task a little simpler).

ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის,

პოთლები მიჰქრიან ქარდაკარ …

ხეთა რიგს, ხეთა ჯარს რკალად ხრის

სადა ხარ, სადა ხარ, სადა ხარ?

როგორ წვიმს, როგორ თოვს, როგორ თოვს

ვერ გპოვებ ვერასდროს… ვერასდროს!

შენი მე სახება დამდავს თან

ყოველ დროს, ყოველთვის ყოველგან!

შორი ცა ნისლიან ფიქრებს სცრის …

ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის!

Looking at each line in turn…

ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის,

the first line is quite easy the first two words being simply repeated twice

პოთლები მიჰქრიან ქარდაკარ …

the second line is trickier, the first word I know means leaves (პოთლები) the second  მიჰქრიან is not easy having a difficult consonant cluster in the middle “ჰქრ” it is like putting h – k and r together,  the final word  ქარდაკარ (kar-dakar) I remember because I think of a rally car in the Paris Dakar rally.

ხეთა რიგს, ხეთა ჯარს რკალად ხრის

რიგს sounds like the English word “rigs” and ჯარს sounds like the English word “jars” so I imagine these in trees (ხეთა) when trying to remember the line.  რკალად (this means arch and I just have to learn it). The last word  ხრის rhymes with ჰქრის.

სადა ხარ, სადა ხარ, სადა ხარ?

like the first line here we have two words repeated, it is a useful phrase სადა ხარ? means where are you?

როგორ წვიმს, როგორ თოვს, როგორ თოვს

this is about the weather, how it rains (წვიმს) and how it snows (თოვს)

ვერ გპოვებ ვერასდროს… ვერასდროს!

we have the combination ვერ three times in this line, I think of a worm “ver” in French. გპოვებ the word for find begins with g and p a consonant combination we don’t have in English at the beginning of a word (we have it in pigpen)

შენი მე სახება დამდავს თან

this line is causing me problems შენი მე “you” and “I” are words I know,  სახება here I notice the three consonants ს – ხ – ბ look similar interspersed with vowels. დამდავს თან I am having trouble remembering this damdevs tan is how it sounds like some made up country in central Asia.

ყოველ დროს, ყოველთვის ყოველგან!

here we have ყოველ repeated three times, ყოველ means “every” and sounds a little like the English word “hovel,” a lowly dewelling.

შორი ცა ნისლიან ფიქრებს სცრის …

შორი (shori) means far or distant I can imagine distant shores,  ცა means sky, ფიქრებს (nislian) sounds a bit like a Japanese car (Nissan), სცრის (stsris) again we have the …რის ending …

ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის, ქარი ჰქრის!

the last line is the same as the first…so that’s easy

Now to learn it all…

Here are two English Translations of the poem:

The wind it whirls, the wind it whirls, the wind it whirls
and the leaves pursue the wind to wind, a-whirling…
Ranks of trees, rows of trees arch their backs,
where are you, where are you, why so far?
Oh, the rain. Oh, the snow. Oh, the snow!
Where’d you go? Where’d you go… No one knows!
But your portrait swirls deep within my mind
everywhere, in every way, all the time…
The far-off skies sprinkle mist and thoughts…
the wind it whirls, the wind it whirls, the wind it whirls…

Translation: Timothy Kercher

Whirls the wind, whirls the wind, whirls the wind

And the leaves whirl from wind still to wind

Rows of trees, lines of trees bend in arch,
Where art thou, where art thou, why so far?..
How it rains, how it snows, how it snows,

Where to find, where to find… Never know!
But pursued, but pursued by your eyes
All the time, everywhere, every time!..
Distant skies drizzle thoughts mixed with mist…
Whirls the wind, whirls the wind, whirls the wind!.

Translation: Innes Merabishvili