16 April 2015, 11:45
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"Yerevan Spring" with the Eyes of a European

A barrister of the Inner Temple and former British police officer, Steven David Brown arrived in Yerevan as international expert in law enforcement for a European project (September 2013 – April 2014). He loved Yerevan so much that before packing he decided to write a poem.

Yerevan Spring

A Duduk breathly reedy, twiddling and whining,
Haunting the sandy chapel
Mournful and mellow, lachrymose and lilting
With a soulful plaint unheard beyond
The mountain witness.

Old ladies clad in long buttoned coats peddle sinewy
Yellow crocuses from a plastic bowl on the corner.
Their men graft rough handed for their crust away, away
Or eke their way with less than enough at home.
Rude chirping from the barren twigs above
No bucolic idyll this, but leaden whiffs bite, choke
And cheat the palate with motoring sooty acridity.

Then sit by here and watch the waters
Banished by winter and ice
restored once more to vault and spray
Like the laughter of children and hope
They dance to the swollen strings of Spartacus
And carry the spirit forward to grope
And grasp what sorrow leaves and does not destroy
To scrape at barren rock, to scratch and mark
Their presence bold. Here we laid our seed

Here was our existence borne
Of ingenuity. Though dealt harsh blows
Here have we worn our bid to thrive and here we bleed
And though to you it seems the throes
Of all our dreams of truth and justice
Evaporate like the mountain mist
Here are we yet and are we set to remain

And echoes still the Duduk's frail refrain.

Steven David Brown
April 2014

In April 2014 Steven presented his verse "Yerevan Spring" to the audience during the presentation of Yerevan 2.0, an incubator of urban projects (new initiative of Yerevan magazine), to which Steven was invited a s a special guest. For this amazing piece - which embraces the author’s perception of the city and its people - not only Yerevan was a source of inspiration, but also the paintings of Yerevan artist Peto Poghosyan. By the way, one of Peto’s works – "the Staging" - is now at Steven’s home in Vienna. Next to it there is a photo of the same site of the city on Abovyan street – for comparison and not only, as Steven would say…

The author of the Armenian translation of the poem is an expert on widely revered Armenian poet, monk St. Grigor of Narek, an expert on the medieval Armenian religious and folk music, a composer and poet Aram Petrosian; his language flavoured with Grabar Armenian passes to the Armenian the exquisite tinge of poetic English used by the author.

Below is a short biography of the author and his impressions on the Armenians.

Autobiography and Armenian experience

Middlesex born, but a Celtic half-blood, Steven mourns the famine of rhyme in poetry and song and admires the literary past when words and lyrics were considered tools of elegance and sophistication and of illumination.

No longer quite so young, he has lived his life embracing a patchwork of various studies and professions: from languages to the law, from piano bar to barrister to bobby. These days he works on international projects delivering something called "technical assistance".

He is glad to call Vienna his home, but spends too much time abroad earning a living. On his many travels he yearns to return to his lovely wife, a wonderfully gentle and charitable Hungarian muse.

Having arrived in Armenia for work, he soon became charmed by the people, the culture and the history. He found the Armenians hostage to meagre economic resources, but rich in their intellect and determination and their abiding sense of humour.

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