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Wisdom from the son of Armenia.

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  • This is a story by Hohvahness Toumanian
    (chakh chakh is an approximation of the sound that the wheel of a grain mill makes when turning)

    There was and there was not a poor miller. He wore a torn sheep skin and wool coat, a flour dusty cloth covered his hair. He lived on the bank of a river in a dilapidated mill. He had an ashen, unleavened loaf of bread and a piece of cheese.

    One day he went outside to release some water from the mill. When he returned, his cheese was missing. Another time, he went outside to let more water run into his mill. When he returned, the bread was gone. He thought, “Is there someone or is there not someone doing this mischief?” He thought and thought. Then he set a trap inside the mill and went to sleep. The next morning, he woke up to find a fox caught in the trap.

    “Hey, you foul thief, you ate my cheese and bread. Hey, now I’ll show you what it is like to be a piece of stolen cheese. Saying this, the miller picked up a metal bar to smash to death the fox. The fox began to beg and plead: “Please don’t kill me for a little piece of cheese. Get me out of this trap and I’ll do many good things for you.’

    The miller listened attentively and finally let the fox out of the trap.

    The fox went away to a trash dump. It happened to be the dump where the palace waste of that country’s king was deposited. The fox walked and rummaged in the waste piles. The wily animal found a gold piece. He quickly ran toward the palace to talk to the king.

    The fox addressed the king: “May the king live long (takavoruhn ahbradz gehnah), please loan me your large weighing bowl (gohduh - a large bowl of specific size used for weighing large quantities of gold and other precious items of value). The hammermill king has a certain quantity of gold. I’ll weigh it and bring back to you.

    Tell me, who is this hammermill king? asked the local king who appeared perplexed and surprised.

    “You don’t know him yet,” answered the fox. The hammermill king is a very wealthy monarch and I am his vizer (chief minister). Please give me the bowl. I’ll go weigh the gold, then you’ll know who he is.

    The fox took the weighing bowl. He devised a clever plan. He stuck the gold coin he found in the dump into a crevice of the bowl. The fox came back that evening to return the weighing bowl.

    “Oh,” said the fox. “We had a hard time weighing all that gold.”

    “It’s hard to believe this fox needs such a big weighing bowl to measure the hammermill king’s gold,” thought the king. He struck the bowl with his hand. It made a hallow sound and the gold coin fell out of the crevice of the bowl. The king picked it up.

    A couple of days later, the fox came back to ask another favor of the king. He said, “My hammermill king has a quantity of precious jewels and natural pearls. Please loan me your weighing bowl again and I’ll bring it back tonight after weighing them. The fox picked up the large bowl and went away. The fox was able to find a pearl. He stuck it into another crevice of the weighing bowl. He brought it back that evening.

    “Oh,” said the fox. “We nearly died weighing all those precious jewels.”

    Later, the king slapped the bowl and a precious pearl fell out of one of the crevices. The king was stunned. He thought to himself. “How much wealth must this hammermill king have? He needs such a big weighing bowl to measure his gold, precious jewels and pearls.”

    Several days passed. One day the fox came to see the king to arrange a marriage. The fox: “The hammermill king has a desire to marry. He would like to marry your daughter.”

    The king became very pleased. He felt like the whole world belonged to him.

    “Go right away,” he said. “Go quickly. See that all the preparations are made for the wedding.” The king’s place was turned upside down in the excitement of preparation for the marriage. Everything down to the finest detail was made ready. The fox rushed back to the hammermill king. He wanted to give him the good news (the way to announce good news in Armenian is to say “may your eyes light up” - ahckuht louyees).

    The fox said, “Well, well, my friend, I asked the king to let you marry his daughter. He agreed. Get ready. You are going to get married now.”

    “My God,” exclaimed the hammermill king. “May your house crumble to the ground, you crazy fox.” (kou dounut kahntvee - may your house crumble to the ground is a phrase of disapproval in Armenian).

    “What have you done,” said the frightened miller. “Who am I to merit marrying the king’s daughter.” (when making a comparison of two unequal things or persons in Armenian, one says: yes ohv, tahkavoreen aghckuh ohv - who am I and who is the king’s daughter).

    “I have no income, no house or property, and no decent clothes. Now tell me, what am I to do?” (votch ahbrusst ounehm, votch dounn ou degh, votch mee tzehrk shohr. Heemee yes inch ahnehm?)

    “Don’t be afraid, I’ll make all the necessary arrangement,” said the fox. He tried to allay the anxiety of the destitute miller. The fox ran back to the king’s palace. He spoke with the king. “Oh my god, the hammermill king organized a grand procession to come here for the marriage. On the road, a large number of enemy soldiers suddenly surrounded the king’s procession, killed many of the king’s guards and stole everything of value. Fortunately, the king escaped unharmed and is hiding in an abandoned mill on the bank of a creek. He sent me to give you the bad news and also fetch some clean clothes to get married. After the marriage, he wants to get revenge for such an insult by giving hot pursuit of the perpetrators. The king immediately got everything ready for the fox to deliver to the hammermill king. He ordered a large contingent of his mounted soldiers to accompany the fox so that his future son-in-law could be escorted with royal pomp and honor to be married.

    The fox and the soldiers arrived at the door of the dilapidated mill. The poor miller quickly took off his rough sheepskin coat and put on the royal clothes. He mounted a stately horse . He was surrounded by the mounted honor guard. Ahead of him were the mounted soldiers and behind as well. The procession parted toward his future father-in-law’s palace. They arrived at the richly endowed palace. The poor miller had never seen such dazzling opulence. He stared at all four corners of the palace with an air of confusion, his mouth open and at times touching and looking at his royal clothing in disbelief and astonished beyond his wits.

    “Brother fox, why is your king staring at everything as if he has never seen a royal house,” asked the king? “It seems as if your king has never seen a palace before nor worn royal robes.”

    “No sire, it is not that at all,” replied the wily fox. “He is observing carefully and comparing your palace and possessions to his and thinking how extensive his opulent possessions are compared to yours.” (teh eehr ounehtzadzuh vohr degh, ehss vor degh - his opulence is so much and this your’s seems so little)

    They sat down for a royal dinner. Many different types of foods were served. The simple miller couldn’t choose which one to eat, nor how to eat it.

    “Why is he not eating, brother fox,” asked the king?

    “He is sadly reflecting on the robbery that took place when he began he was coming here. You can’t even imagine, my dear sire, how valuable were the things that were stolen, and how nasty and demeaning is was for my king. How can he eat in peace now,” said the fox with a sigh of frustration.

    “Don’t fret for that, leave your worries aside, my dear son-in-law. This is the way of the world. Sometimes these things happen.” The king tried to console his son-in-law. “This is your wedding! Let us be happy. Let’s have a good time now.”

    They began to regale with joy. They ate, drank, play musical instruments and dance. They continued the marriage festivities for seven days and seven nights. The fox became the best man for the hammermill king.

    After the wedding festivities, the king gave a huge dowry for his daughter to his son-in-law. With great pomp and merriment the king accompanied the newly weds to the palace of the hammermill king.

    “All of you proceed together. Take your time and enjoy the scenery. I’ll go ahead and get everything ready at my king’s palace for your grand reception there,” said the best man. The fox ran as fast as he could until he reached a pasture where a large herd of cows were grazing. He asked the cow herders, “Who owns these cows?” They answered, “Shah Mar.”

    “Don’t you dare repeat Shah Mar’s name again!” said the fox. “My king is very upset with him. He is coming behind me with a large army. Whoever repeats the name of Shah Mar will have his head cut off. If you are asked who these cows belong to, say the hammermill king. If you don’t, the devil will take you to hell.” (teh cheh, vaduhn (sadahnahn - devil) yegehl eh tehz dahnehl - if not, misery will be your lot (literally misery will take you)

    The fox continued to ran faster and faster. He saw a flock of sheep mounting the steeps of a mountain.

    He asked, “Who do these sheep belong to?â”The sheepherders answered, “Shah Mar.” The fox instructed the sheepherders in the same way as the cowherds.

    The fox continued to run and run He came upon vast cultivated agricultural fields with the farmers and laborers working.

    “Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox. They said, “Shah Maree.” The fox instructed the farmers in the same way.

    He ran and ran. He encountered expansive fields of hay. “Who do these fields belong to?” asked the fox.

    The hay gatherers said, “Shah Mar’s.” He instructed them as he did the others.

    The fox finally reached Shah Mar’s palace.

    “Shah Mar, O Shah-Mar,” called the fox as he ran toward to king. “May your house not be destroyed. You are innocently unaware of the evil that is looming. The king is upset with you. He is approaching your palace with a large army bent of killing you and pillaging everything you have and leaving only desolation and despair. You may not remember, but once I ate a little chick in your company. I have never forgotten your generosity and the good taste of that meal. That is why I have come running in great haste to give you this dire news. You must quickly get out of here by any means before that terrible tyrant reaches your palace.”

    “What can I do? Where will I go?” asked the frightened Shah Mar. He could see the rising cloud of dust of a large number of men and horses of the invading king in the horizon.

    “Run, get away as fast as possible with a sturdy horse. Go far away from this doomed land, and don’t look back.”

    Shah Mar mounted his best horse and escaped as fast as he could from his domain

    The wedding party and the troops approached the palace of Shah Mar. They were sounding off trumpets, banging on drums, singing as loud as possible while surrounded by a huge contingent of mounted and armed soldiers. The riflemen continually shot rounds of bullets into the air. There was am awful din of noise.

    The hammermill king and his wife were riding in a gold-plated chariot There was a multitude of soldiers in front and back of their chariot. The troops reached a large field where they saw a herd of cows pasturing. The mounted troops asked the cowherd men: “Whose cows are these?”

    “The hammermill king’s cows,” answered the cowherds.

    They continued on their path. They arrived at a large area of cultivated land.

    They asked the farmers: “Who owns these abundant fields?”

    “The hammermill king,” they replied.

    They continued on and reached the vast fields of hay.

    They asked the laborers: “Who is the owner of these fields?”

    “The hammermill king,” they replied.

    All were astonished. The hammermill king was on the verge of losing his mind. He couldn’t believe his ears.

    The troops arrived Shah-Mar’s palace. The best man fox was already established as the master of the palace. He had made all the appropriate preparations and received the honored guests and newly found relatives. They all began the joyful festivities.

    For seven days and seven nights they enjoyed themselves royally. After the festivities ended the guests returned to their kingdom. The hammermill king along with his wife and his best man, the fox, live now in Shah-Mar’s palace. Until this very day, Shah-Mar is still running frightened out of wits of the hammermill king.

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  • The Pot of Gold

    I heard from our elders, they in turn from their fathers, they in turn from their elders, that once upon a time there was a poor farmer who had a rented plot of land and a yoke for one bull. During the harsh winter the farmer’s bulls died. In the early spring when it was time to begin to plow and clear the fields, the farmer did not have any bulls to work the land. He rented the land to a neighbor to farm.
    While the neighbor tilled the field, his hoe hit an object. He thought it was a big rock. When he unearthed it, he saw a clay water jug full of gold coins. He tied his bulls and ran to the village to his neighbor who rented him the land.
    “Hey brother, may the sunlight brighten your eyes (ahchkut louyee), I just unearthed this pot full of gold on your land. Take it, it belongs to you.”
    “No way, brother, it does not belong to me,” said the farmer to his renter.
    “You paid me rent for the land, you plowed the ground. Whatever comes out of the land belongs to you. If it is gold, so be it, it belongs to you.”
    They began to argue back and forth. The renter said, “It is yours brother,” and the farmer said, “No, it is yours.” They argued more and more until they came to blows. Finally, they went before the king with their mutual differences of opinion. Then the king heard about the pot of gold, his eyes bulged from their sockets with greed. He spoke.
    “It does not belong either of you. The pot of gold came out of the plot of land that belongs to me. It’s mine!” The king proceeded with his guards to the farmer’s place to fetch the pot of gold for himself. When the king opened the lid of the pot, he was shocked to find that instead of gold, the pot was brimming with poisonous snakes!
    The king became incensed with rage and rushed back to his palace. He ordered his men to severely punish these country bumpkins for daring to cheat him.
    “May the king live long, we beg to differ,” said the two hapless prisoners. “Why are you going to execute us. There is some mistake. Maybe you did not look into the pot correctly. There are not any snakes. It is full of precious gold, so much gold, Sire.”
    The king sent a group of his men to examine the pot again. When the men returned, they affirmed that the pot was full of gold.
    “My God,” said the king is a burst of amazement. “I must not have looked carefully into the pot or, maybe, I looked into the wrong pot.” The king darted out again to see the pot of gold. He opened the lid and again he was shocked to find the pot full of poisonous snakes.
    “What kind of magic is this? What does it mean? I don’t understand,” said the king.
    He issued a royal order that all the sages and wise men in his kingdom come immediately to his palace for a consultation. He addressed them thus, “Please explain to me my dear wise men the origin and meaning of this strange event. These farmers unearthed a pot full of gold. When I went to examine it, I saw the same pot full of dangerous snakes. When they look, they see only precious gold. What does this mean?”
    The wise men addressed the king, “If the honored king does not get upset, we can explain the meaning. The pot of gold was a gift sent to the poor farmers for their noble and honest work. When they looked into the pot, they saw their rightful reward of precious gold. But, when you looked into the pot, you had intent to usurp the fortune belonging to others. Because of that illicit desire, you saw dangerous snakes instead of gold.”
    The king was shocked. He was speechless. He composed himself and spoke to the wise men: “I accept. But you must still determine which one of these two farmers owns the pot of gold.”
    The farmer who unearthed the pot said, “It belongs to my neighbor who rented the plot to me.”
    “It’s not true,” said the farmer who rented the plot. “It belongs to my friend the renter.” The two farmers began to argue again.
    “Stop this arguing right now,” said the wise men. “Now tell us. Do you have children? If so, tell us whether they are girls or boys and what are their ages?”
    It turned out that one farmer had a boy and the other a girl and both children were of marriageable age. The wise men decided that the one farmer’s son and the other’s daughter should get married. The pot of gold that was unearthed should be gifted to the newly married couple. The two honest farmers agreed.
    Eight days and eight nights the humble villagers celebrated the marriage of the farmer’s children. The pot of gold that was unearthed and later revealed to be a gift to them in recognition of their noble and honest work throughout their lives was offered to their children. Blessing and goodness were with the humble, honest people; bad behavior and greediness with the king.

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  • (This is another wonderful tale of Hovhaness Toumanian. It has a deep meaning and teachings that unravel as you read it. I will discuss what I think those meanings are. I think this is the first time this tale is translated into English from the original Armenian. I hope you enjoy it.)

    The geese keeper girl

    There was and there wasn’t a very old woman. This woman lived in a small cottage nestled in a thickly forested slope of a mountain. She kept a flock of geese as her loyal companions. She treated them like her own children. Her cottage was surrounded by an old growth forest. She lived in a lonely mountainous area as if isolated from civilization.

    Every day the old woman held fast to her walking stick. She habitually talked to herself as she walked through the dark forest. She went searching for green grass for her geese. She also picked wild fruits and anything that was eatable in her sight. She tied the herbs and fruits in a cloth that she shouldered on her back for the trek back to her cottage. Whoever saw the old woman gritting her teeth and struggling with the heavy weight of her bundle understood how difficult it was in her old age to eke out a meager subsistence. However, she always was able to make it back to her mountain cottage.

    If the old woman encountered a stranger on her path, she always offered a happy and warm greeting.

    “Good day, dear brother. God has blessed us with good weather today. Oh, don’t be so shocked that an old woman like me can carry such a heavy bundle. What can I do? Everyone must work hard for an honest living and tolerate the destiny God has allotted to them.”

    To tell the truth, no traveler in the forest wanted to encounter the old woman on the pathways. If they saw her in the distance, they would stray away from the pathway and remain hidden. If by chance a father and son passed her on a forest path, the father would stop his son and caution him: “You see this woman, stay far away from her. Yes, far away, she is a witch…”

    One morning, a handsome young man was wandering in the vicinity of the old woman’s wild picking haunts. The sun was hot and brilliantly shining. The birds were chirping to their heart’s content. Their was a pleasant breeze wafting through the forest and rustling the leaves to produce a soothing sound. The young man was enjoying the pleasant summer day in the mountain forest. He had not seen anyone meandering on the pathways of the forest that day. Then he espied a very old lady on her knees collecting forest greens and grass growing near the trees. Her apron was full of grasses and herbs and she was had two baskets full of forest fruits on the ground near her. She lifted the heavy burden on her back.

    “Granny, where are you going with such a heavy bundle?” asked the young man.

    “Whether I want to or not, I am forced to carry this bundle, my dear boy. What else can I do? The rich, of course, are not obliged to do such hard labor, but for the country folk like me it is said,

    ‘Do not look back or lament
    Your spine is crooked and bent’ ”

    The old woman was hunched over carrying her bundle and spoke without seeing the young man. When she approached him, he was standing on one side of the path and she caught a glimpse of his attractive features. She spoke,

    “Perhaps you might want to help me. You’re back is still straight and strong, your legs stout and steady. This bundle will be no match for your strength. My little cottage is in a small open area surrounded by the dense forest on this side of the mountain. With you’re help, we’ll quickly reach it.”

    “No problem”, he said, “My father is not a villager. I am the son of a wealthy king. I will still lift your heavy bundle. I’ll show you that villagers are not the only ones who can lift heavy bundles and carry them.”

    “Then come and lift this off my back. May you live long, my son. As the crow flies, we have about one hour’s journey. This will be a piece of cake for you. And don’t forget these two baskets of apples and pears.”

    When the young prince heard “one hour’s journey”, he began to hesitate. The old woman didn’t let him shirk away from the task. She heaved her load on his back, secured it with a tight belt and handed him the two baskets.

    “Can you feel how light it is”, she said.

    “”How can you say it is light”, pouted the prince. “Your bundle is so heavy, I think you put rocks in it. And your two baskets of apples and pears seem to be burdened with lead and are bearing down on my arms and legs…I am having difficulty breathing!”

    He tried to relieve himself of the unbearable load, but the old woman taunted him.

    “Just see, just see, I am an old, wizened woman who daily carries this same heavy bundle all alone. You are a young and nimble youth and you are hesitating already after a few seconds…it is always like this…..people like you make so many boastful claims of being hard workers, but when it comes time to really work, you backpedal with crybaby excuses. Why are you just standing there young man, start moving your feet forward. No one else is going to help you now.”

    They started on the trek. While on the straight and level pathways the young man was able to hold his own. But, when they started up the mountain, the path was strewn with rocks. As the prince stepped on rocks with the weight of the bundle on his shoulders, some of the rocks ricocheted from the edges of his boots. The prince felt he couldn’t continue any longer carrying such a heavy burden. His brow was full of beads of sweat, some hot and some cold dripped down his back.

    He said in a pleading voice:

    “Granny, I can’t go any further. I need to catch my breath and rest.”

    “No way,” answered the old woman. “When arrive at my cottage, you can rest all you want.. Who knows, maybe one day you will realize that something wonderful resulted from this day’s work…. Now, keep going.”

    “You really don’t have any pity, Granny,” said the prince whose temper began to heat up. He tried to slide the bundle off his back. But to no avail because the devilish old woman had tied it so tightly that it seemed to be part and parcel of his body as if he was born with it. The prince was not able to shake it off his back. He almost lost his balance. The old woman mocked him while poking the bundle from one side and the other to keep it steady on the prince’s back.

    She said: “Why are you getting so riled up my dear boy? You’re all red like a turkey. Just carry the bundle and don’t make any waves. When we arrive at my cottage, I am going to reward you so handsomely, you’ll be amazed.”

    What could the young prince do? Whether he wanted to or not, he had to resign himself to his fate and follow the old woman come hell or high water.

    The more they climbed the difficult mountain paths, the more the old woman quickened the pace. It seemed as if the bundle became heavier and heavier for the prince. As if the prince’s troubles were not enough, the old woman stepped up on a large rock and suddenly jumped on the shoulders of the prince. She firmly crossed her legs on his chest.. On the ground, the old woman looked like a gaunt wisp. But, she felt more heavy than a stout peasant women perched on his shoulders.

    The prince’s legs began to shiver. To add insult to injury, the old woman repeatedly whipped the prince’s boots with a bunch of long stalks of nettles. The exhausted prince huffed and puffed and groaned with pangs of agony as he mounted the steep trail. Finally, he reached the old woman’s cottage where he collapsed on the ground as if he was about to give up his ghost.

    When the geese saw the old woman, they started to excitedly flap their wings and stretch their long necks. They ran toward her making a loud crescendo of honks that echoed through the loneliness of the secluded mountain. The geese were happy. Another old woman followed the geese. She was tall and heavy set and walked with a branch of a tree for a cane. She had an eerie look about her and appeared to have an unnatural ugliness suggesting a strange fate. She said:

    “We were worried about you, mother dear. Why are you so late? Did something happen?”

    “Nothing at all, my dear girl”, said the granny. “I didn’t have any problem. On the contrary, I met this young gentleman on the forest trails. He was so kind to shoulder my heavy bundle and baskets and bring them here for me. And what’s more, when I got tired, he insisted that I mount his shoulders so that he could relieve my fatigue by straddling him. I know it wasn’t easy for him. The trek seemed to pass so fast that we hardly noticed the time passing. We were telling jokes and laughing so much. It was so much fun.”

    The old woman impishly stood up from squatting on the exhausted prince’s shoulders. She loosened the ties holding the bundle on the prince’s back and removed it. She took the baskets from his hands and spoke to him in a motherly tone of affection.

    “Now you sit here on these door steps and rest up, my dear boy. You deserve a precious reward for you hard work. I am going to give you a gift you’ll never forget.”

    She looked at the other woman. “You go in the house sweetie. You are standing too near this young man. It is not proper. You don’t throw butter on a fire. The young man might fall in love with you.”

    When the prince heard the old woman’s words, he was not sure whether he should laugh derisively or cry. He thought to himself:

    “Oh yes, my pretty wench, even if you were thirty years younger, you would still leave my heart cold and somber. What to speak of now!”

    Meanwhile the granny turned her attention to caressing and taking care of her geese as if they were her children. Then she and the other woman stepped into the cottage.

    The prince was exhausted. He found an old bench under the shade of wild apple trees and dropped down on it. The air was warm and scented with the fragrance of wild flowers. On all sides of the shaded grove were beautiful meadows in full bloom with yellow and blue wild flowers. Running through the meadow was a limpid stream glittering like bright silver under the brilliant sun. The pure white geese waded back and forth in the stream.

    The prince exclaims to himself: “What a beautiful place. But I am so tired my eyes are tearing. Let me close my eyes and rest a little. But I feel so light-headed that I fear the wind will carry me off like a feather. I feel so bereft of strength so much so that I feel like strands of weightless cotton.”

    He slept for a short while until the granny came and shook him to wake up. She said:

    “Get up! It is not possible for you to stay here. It’s true that I troubled you greatly by carrying my heavy bundle and baskets. But you made it here and you’re still alive. I’m going to reward you. I won’t give you some money or other precious treasure because you don’t need money or treasure. I’ll give you something that is worth much more than money or treasure.”

    With those words, she handed him a small box made entirely of precious pearls.

    “Take this and keep it like you would the very light of your eyes. It will bestow upon you continual happiness.”

    Suddenly, the young prince felt a lively surge of energy. He stood up refreshed and accepted the box. He thanked the granny and began his trek back home without even a thought of the woman staying with the granny. He hurriedly went down the mountain a considerable way but he could still hear the happy honking of the geese.

    The prince wandered the pathways of the mountain forests for three days until he was able to find his way to a large town. He had never been there before. He walked through the town a total stranger. The townsfolk, learning of his royal lineage, took him to their king’s palace. When the prince entered the throne room, the prince fell to his knees and offered his respects to the king and queen. He took the pearl studded small box out of his pocket and placed it at the feet of the queen. The queen ordered him to stand up and hand the precious gift box to her. She opened the box and looked inside. Immediately, tears flowed from her eyes. She swooned and fainted. The guards grabbed the prince and began to hustle him to the palace jail. The queen was revived by her attendants. She gathered her wits and ordered the guards to let the prince free and instructed them to leave the throne room so that she could speak to him alone.

    The three were now alone. The queen began to cry again. She spoke to the prince and weeped intermittently at the same time.

    “What good is all my opulence and glory, when every morning I wake up with tears and every night I go to sleep with tears. I had three girls. My youngest was so sweet. Whoever saw her said she wasn’t just a girl, but a miraculous creature of beauty and grace. Her beautiful face was a mixture of pure white snow and the delicate rosy color of spring apple blossoms. Her cheeks and hair glistened like the rays of the sun. When her eyes shed tears, they seemed like a stream of precious pearls. When the youngest was fifteen, her royal father summoned all three sisters to appear before him. It was an amazing sight. Everyone looked on with enchanted eyes when my youngest entered the room. Her charm and beauty was so alluring, it seemed as if the sun just rose in the horizon.

    “My dear children,” said the King, “I don’t know when I will reach my last breath. For this reason I want to decide this very day how to portion off my kingdom to each of you after my death. I know you love me very much. I want, however, to hear which one of you loves me the most. The one who loves me the most will get the largest part of my kingdom. Now tell me how much each of you loves me so that I can measure how great is your love. The oldest daughter said:

    “I love you as much as the sweetest sugar in this world.” The second said:

    “I love you as much as my most favorite dress.” The youngest remained silent.

    “And you, my most dear youngest daughter. How much do you love me?”, said the king.

    “I don’t know father.”, said the girl. “I can’t compare my love for you to anything I know.”

    The king insisted that his youngest daughter make a statement. The girl felt obliged to say something.

    “The best food has no real taste for me without a sprinkling of salt. I love you like salt in my food.”

    When the king heard the girl’s answer, he was seized by a rash feeling of rage. He railed at her.

    “So it is like that….if you like me as much as salt, then I will leave you an inheritance of salt.”

    “Later, the king divided his kingdom among his two older daughters. He ordered that the youngest receive a belt laden with a bag of salt. He ordered two servants to accompany her to a remote dense forest area and abandon her. I and all the others begged, pleaded, implored the king to relent from such a harsh decision. But it was to no avail. We could not soften the king’s wrath.”

    “Oh, if you could only have seen how much we wailed when she was forced to leave. Her tears fell like rain from her eyes. Each tear became a pearl that glistened like fresh dew on a blade of grass. Soon after her departure, the king began to feel remorse due to his hard-hearted decision. His anger subsided and gave way to compassion. He became conscientious of his wrong decision. He ordered his soldiers to search everywhere possible to find our unfortunate child. But no one was able to find her.

    Whenever my mind thinks of my poor child’s fate, I imagine she might have been eaten by predator animals. The pain of such thoughts drives me into a forlorn frenzy. I lose my self composure by feeling so pained and disturbed. I get disoriented and feel devastated. Sometimes my attendants console me with glimmers of hope that my child might still be alive by remaining hidden in a cave or perhaps she had found refuge with kind-hearted people who are sheltering her.

    But, when I opened your little pearl-studded box, I was shocked to see the same tear-shaped pearls that fell from my child’s eyes as she left crying that fateful day. You have to tell me where you laid hands on this little box.”

    The young prince recounted his story. He explained how a very old granny gave him this emerald studded box. He was sure the old lady was a witch. He told her how much the old witch made him work so hard and suffer. But, he assured her, he did not see such a beautiful young girl, nor did he hear anything about her.

    The king and queen decided that whatever may come of it, they must find the old witch. They were convinced that whoever had possession of these tear-like pearls would have some information about the whereabouts of their daughter.

    Let’s leave the king and queen and the young prince commence their journey of discovery. Let us go back to the old woman and her daughter in their lonely mountain cottage.

    The old woman was alone in the deep silence of her forest cottage. She was using her spindle to spin thread. Night had already fallen. The logs of pine in the fireplace were reduced to cinders and about to go out. Outside, there was a commotion and loud noises. The geese were returning to the cottage from foraging. She could hear their cacophony of deafening honking sounds.

    The old woman’s daughter entered the house. The granny motioned to her with a slight movement of her head to come close to her. The daughter sat close to her mother. She took up the spindle and started to spin more thread. She was zippy at it just like a young girl. For two quiet hours the two sat close to each other without talking as if their tongues were tied. A murmuring sound from outside the window broke the silence. They both looked up and saw two fiery eyes peering at them. It was an old owl that hauntingly called out three times phou-poul, phou-poul, phou-poul and disappeared in the dark night.

    The granny looked at her daughter and said: “Its time now my daughter, go and do what you have to do.”

    Without a peep the daughter went out into the darkness of the forest. She walked through the eerie night quite a distance until she reached a secluded glen. She went straight to a well where there were three oak trees on one side. Once out of the dense forest, there was a full moon appearing over the mountain tops that lighted the darkness so much that if a pin was lost you would see it shining on the ground. Under the silvery light of the moon, the woman took off her course frock, wet it and began to pound it against the rock wall of a well as she washed it. She rinsed and squeeze dried the frock. She spread it to dry under the white light of the full moon. At the same time, the clumsy woman mysteriously transformed from an ugly old woman into a young woman of unimaginable beauty. She stood in the bright moonlight with her beauty that could be described as never seen before and not comparable to anyone else. A man beholding such a beauty would be dumbstruck and incapable of eating, drinking, or anything else but just gaze at her other-worldly charm.

    Her white hair fell down as if a wig and under it was revealed brilliant golden blond hair that descended to her sides like a bundle of sun rays falling from the heavens that engulfed her body. Her eyes twinkled like twin stars through her hair strands and her cheeks were pink like the spring flowers of an apple tree.

    She still was sad, so sad. She fell to the ground and began to shed hot tears of grief. Her tears flowed one after the other wetting the ground. She cried so much that she would have stayed immobile for a very long time had she not heard the rustling of the leaves close by and the crackling sound of a broken branch. She jumped up frightened like a deer that just heard a gunshot. Quickly she put on her mysterious old frock and in one second she disappeared as if she never existed like blowing out a candle so that the darkness envelops everything. She was frightened by the sound so much that she shivered with fear all the way back to the granny’s cottage. She saw the old woman waiting for her at the door of the cottage. She was about to explain what happened when the old woman softly said:

    “Don’t fret my dearest, I understand everything.” She took her hand and led her into the cottage.

    The granny lit the fire. She left off spinning her thread and took up a broom and started to sweep the cottage. She said:

    “Everything has to be orderly and clean.”

    “Mother, why do you have to clean the house at this late hour? Are you expecting guests? What’s happening?”

    “My dearest, don’t you know that your time has come?”, asked the old woman.
    “The night is not even half over, you need to get ready before the sunrise. Didn’t it occur to you that it is exactly three years to the day that you came to me. When this night is over, it will not be possible to ever live together.”

    The daughter became pale. She asked:

    “Mommy, do you want me to leave your home? Where will I go? I don’t have any friends. I have no where to go. Whatever you say, I will do. I have always tried my best to please you. Why are you throwing me to the dogs?”

    The old woman did not want to reveal all that she knew would come to pass so she changed the subject.

    “I also do not want to live in this cottage any longer. I want to go far away from this lonely place, but I can’t leave it looking like a mess. Leave me in peace to clean it. Please do not fret anymore. You are going to return to your father’s hearth and you will be pleasantly surprised by the gift I will give you.”

    “But, mommy, tell me what is going to happen to me.”

    “I’ll tell you for the last time, do not disturb me. Let me sweep and clean. Go to your room without any more words. Take that old frock off and put on your lovely silk dress that you wore when you first came here. Wear that and wait in your room until I call you.”

    Now let us find out about the king and queen. They engaged the young prince to help them locate the old woman. Finding the secluded cottage in the deep mountain forest was not so easy. At one point, the young prince fell behind the king and queen’s party. He continued alone. The next day, the prince realized he had strayed from the right trail. He walked the entire day. As night fell, he climbed a tree to pass the night until the next morning. During the night, he noticed an old woman walking down the mountain under the white rays on the full moon. He recognized her as the ugly woman who lived with the old granny in the mountain forest. He had seen her feeding the granny’s geese and leading them with a walking stick. She was strangely alone on this full moon night without her stick or the geese.

    “What luck,” he thought to himself. “I am seeing this one now. If I can keep my eye on her, I’ll soon find the old granny too.”

    But he was in for the shock of his life. The strange woman approached a well. She took off her old frock and began to wash it. He was amazed to see that she had golden hair that fell to her shoulders. Now he could see her bewitchingly gorgeous beauty. He couldn’t believe his eyes. She was more beautiful than any woman he had ever seen or even heard of. He held his breath and poked his head through the tree branches with his eyes bulging in silent admiration of the girl’s stunning looks and body. He pressed his head forward to see her better when he accidentally broke a branch of the tree with a crackling sound. The girl heard the sound and grabbed her frock and put in on in haste. She ran off like a frightened deer as fast as she could into the dense forest.

    The girl made haste back to the granny’s cottage. The prince jumped down from the tree and followed her. He followed her for a distance. He espied two moving shadow-like forms in the forest. It was the king and queen. He joined them and they continued their search together for the granny’s cottage. They saw the granny’s outdoor flaming torch light through the thick forest. They used the torch’s light to guide their walk through the forest toward the cottage. The prince described the amazing sight he had of the granny’s daughter near the forest well. In his words, what he saw was a miracle. He was absolutely sure that the woman he saw earlier in the forest was the king and queen’s lost daughter. They continued toward the torch light and finally reached the granny’s cottage. They saw the large flock of geese standing all over the yard of the cottage. Their heads were buried under the soft feathers of their wings in deep sleep. Not one of the geese made a noise or moved at all.

    The three looked stealthily through the window.
    They could see the granny sitting and spinning thread on her spindle.

    They noticed how impeccably clean and orderly the cottage was. It was as if it was clean enough for angelic spirits of the forest to be dwelling there. Such spirits know neither dirt nor dust in their immaculate lives. They saw everything but their dear daughter. She wasn’t there. They tried to hear any noise or notice any sign that would give them hope. After a while they mustered up the courage and tapped on the window. The granny appeared to be waiting for them. Hearing their tapping on the window, she got up quickly and called out in a sweet voice.

    “Come in, come in, I know who you are.”

    All three entered the small cottage.

    The granny said, “May the king live a long life. You were not meant to make such a long and difficult journey today. If only you didn’t throw your daughter out under such cruel and unjust pretexts three years ago. She is a sweet and virtuous innocent girl. I can’t understand why you did it. But I must tell you that she has been spared any stain on her purity these last three years. I gave her the responsibility to care for my geese, feed them and keep her eye on them so that they avoid any harm. I can promise you that she has not learned anything bad. Her heart and soul have been spared of any unsavory influence and she has remained pure. But you have received your well earned punishment by living in continual fear and anxiety for her safety during her three year absence.

    The granny sidled close to the bedroom door and called out: “Please come out now, my dear girl.”

    The door opened and the stunning girl appeared in her golden silk dress. Her golden blond hair fell down her shoulders to her lower back. Her eyes were shining like bright stars. She seemed like a heavenly angel that had miraculously descended on this earth.

    She came running out and wrapped her arms around her mother and father’s necks. She began to kiss them. The king and queen were so overwhelmed with joy that they shed tears. The young prince looked on as a stunned bystander. The girl noticed the prince and began to blush rosy pink and red like a fresh rose in bloom. The king spoke:

    “My precious daughter, what can I give you now. I have already divided my kingdom and gifted it to your sisters.”

    The granny spoke on behalf of the princess. “She doesn’t need anything from you. I have gifted her the ability to cry tears that are more precious than the most costly pearls extracted from the oceans. They are so valuable that they make the wealth of your entire kingdom pale in comparison. Further, in return for the humble and sincere service she rendered me these three years, I am giving her my humble cottage in this forest.”

    As soon as she finished her benevolent words, the granny mysteriously disappeared. The others experienced an incredible event. The walls of the little cottage began to squeak as they expanded and transformed. The humble cottage became an opulent palace with a banquet hall garnished with delectable food and numerous servants quickly walking here and there attending to every need of the king and queen and other guests. There were also beautiful young ladies dressed in pearly white gowns standing in attendance around the king and queen, the prince and the princess.

    It became more than apparent that the granny was not an evil witch, but a genuinely pure-hearted well-wisher. She blessed the king’s daughter with the power to cry tears that turned into precious pearls. This guaranteed that she would weather through her days of adversity and need. The granny also saved many other young girls who were the subject of cruel destiny. She turned them into white geese so that no unscrupulous men disturb them. Now they were again transformed back to their original beautiful youthful human forms. She also arranged for the young and handsome prince to meet the innocent and pure princess who suffered such injustice from her father.

    After the revelation of all these amazing happenings, the prince and princess were married. They lived happily. The princess forgot about all the suffering of her earlier dark days. They lived together joyfully and in peaceful harmony in the splendid palace that was formerly a humble cottage in the dense mountain forest.

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  • Hovhaness Toumanian is without doubt my favorite Armenian author. I have translated and put into English verse one of his inimitable short stories about the Master and the Laborer. I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I did putting it into verse.

    The Master and the Laborer

    There were two brothers who were very poor
    The older found work as a laborer
    He worked for a greedy farmer man
    Who made a deal to hire him as a hand

    The farmer stipulated the laborer work til spring
    Until the first cuckoo would break out and sing
    But if either would become angry first
    He must pay the other a heavy purse

    “One thousand rubles would be the prize.”
    The laborer said: “I have no money. I have no guise.
    How can I pay you if I lose. Please advise.”
    “Oh, You can work another ten years, with no goodbyes.”

    The worker thought: “This is a trick, I must refuse.”
    But on second thought: “I’ll never get angry. I cannot lose.”
    So naive, so mindless, he could not see the evil ruse
    Accepted the offer that gave license to the Master to abuse

    Master said “take this scythe with blade so sharp and bright
    Cut down the tall barley with all your might”
    The poor worker toiled hard until the night
    Returned tired and worried about his new plight

    Master said, “Why have you come back? There is still light!”
    The moon is shining with its brightness so white”
    The worker looked at him aghast with fright
    “Sir, the sun has set, the world sleeps, its night”

    “If I understand, cruel sir, I can never rest!
    Surely you don’t mean this, it must be a jest”
    Master said, “Aha - you are getting angry and stressed,
    Remember our agreement that we both did attest”

    Forlorn and depressed, the worker plied his way
    Back to the grassy fields to work til the light of day
    The crescendo of dawn was not a source of joy
    The worker cursed his fate and his master’s ploy

    “Your field, your bread, your money are a bane
    That bridle an honest man to suffering and pain”
    At that moment as if destined the cruel master came,
    “You are angry, sir, pouring forth so much blame”

    “Pay me a thousand rubles or work ten years without pay
    Hard labor will teach you a lesson. Now you must stay!”
    The poor laborer could not work for such a cruel master
    He agreed to sign an IOU and leave the nasty bastard.

    He returned home to his younger brother and told him all
    “Don’t worry,” said the younger brother, forget your gall
    Now stay at home, relax, don’t worry, I’ll go to find work
    To make enough money for us to live and pay off that jerk!”

    He went straight away to the farmer so deft at cheating
    Discussed the same conditions as his brother in their meeting
    With one exception, he said, “Let’s up the bet, it’s not enough
    You pay me 2000 rubles if you get angry and tough”

    “Or, If I get angry I pay you the same or work 20 years
    Of hard labor, under the sun and moon with sweat and tears.”
    Tasting the sweetness of the deal, the master said yes
    Aware that his worker would be exhausted without any rest.

    Next morning, the sun was already high
    But the worker was asleep, his head in the sky
    “Get up you lazy bum, it’s nearly noon!”
    Said the cleaver master in an angry swoon.

    “Are you angry,” said the worker opening his eyes
    “No, not at all! I want you to know it is time to rise.”
    “There is plenty of time for that,” he said with a yawn
    Slowly, he readied, as if half the day was not gone

    “Can you not hurry up! It is so late,
    It is not very pleasant to make me wait.”
    “Are you getting impatient and irate?”
    “No, no! I am pointing out your slow gait.”

    “I must remind you that you are hired to work
    A duty you must do, not delay or shirk.”
    “Oh yes, that is true. I am a man of my word.
    But remember I am human, not an animal in a herd.”

    On reaching the field, it was time for noon lunch.
    “Look, said the worker, all are eating. Let us have our brunch.”
    They sat with the others under a shady tree and ate to their fill
    Then they all took a short nap remaining silent and still

    After a good break the others awoke and went back to the fields
    While the worker slept as if work was a choice he could ignore or yield
    The master roared “Wake up, wake up! Have you no shame
    The others have reaped their crops while you play the sleeping game.”

    The worker opened one eye and said, “Seems to me you are really angry this time!”
    “No, no, not at all! I only meant it is time to go home. The dinner bell chimes.”
    On reaching the farmer’s house the master saw a guest waiting for him
    The master ordered the worker to slaughter a sheep, not too fat and too slim

    “Which one shall I kill?”, said the worker with his voice so shrill
    “Any you can catch and do it fast so it comes quickly to the grill.”
    The worker went off with knife so sharp ready for the kill
    Soon a neighbor came screaming that caused a dreadful chill.

    “My friend, my neighbor, your worker has lost his peasant’s head.
    Your beautiful sheep, once fatted and serene, are all lying dead!”
    Red faced and boiling, the master ran toward the woolly flock
    But when he saw the bloody sight, he was stunned with shock.

    “What have you done you stupid pig head?
    Not my sheep, but you should be killed instead!”
    “But you said, Master, I should kill any I catch.
    I was quick and nimble, the fat sheep were no match.”

    “Can it be that you are angry and full of hate?”
    “No. But, you killed the sheep meant for my plate.”
    “Ah, you are not angry then, I can do my work.”
    The master thought, “Your work is making me go berserk.”

    As the months passed the master was more than convinced
    To get rid of his worker whose tricks gave him a constant wince

    As a lawyer tries to find a loophole in a contract for his client’s gain,
    the master found a way to free himself of the worker’s bane.
    The agreement said the worker should stay until the first cuckoo sings.
    But, normally this would not happen until the early days of spring.

    Winter was just beginning, the first cuckoo’s song was far away.
    But the Master became desperate. He could not tolerate any delay.
    So he took his dear wife into the forest and had her perch in a tree
    Until he returns with the worker, she sings like a cuckoo and he is set free.

    The master went home and ordered the worker to fetch the rifle gun.
    For the joy of the hunt, they hiked to the forest under the morning rays of the sun. On approaching the fated tree, the wife sang out like a cuckoo chick. The worker became suspicious, he quickly saw through the trick

    The master said, “Ah, the cuckoo sings, our agreement is done.”
    The worker cried out in a ruff voice as he raised the hunter’s gun
    “What kind of strange cuckoo that sings in early winter the spring song? I’ll shoot the strange bird because I am sure there is something wrong!”

    The Worker aimed quick at the tree and was about to click
    When the Master deflected the gun by a strike of his stick
    “Curse you, evil trickster, I hate you with all my heart,
    I won’t tolerate you another minute, you must leave, depart.”

    The Worker said, “Now you are really angry, admit it, you’re in a rage.”
    “Yes I am, you rascal, take your cursed money, your bloody wage.” Now leave me in peace, go far away, you’re not a person I want to see ever again. “Never will I make pitfalls for others that I may fall into not knowing how or when.”

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  • A mere drop of honey

    A Villager opened a shop in his town
    Offered fine goods that could be bargained down
    After some days from a nearby village
    With staff in his hand and dog of old age
    An uncivil shepherd entered the stage

    “Good day shopkeeper, have you sweet honey?
    Please give me some for a little money.”
    “I have good honey my brother sheep man
    Give me your clay pot or deep roaster pan.”

    “Choose the kind of honey you desire
    I’ll fill your container as you require.”
    With honey-like words and seeming affection
    They did business with peaceful connection

    Shopkeeper poured the best honey of the store
    By dark fate, a stray drop fell on the floor
    Zzzzz, zzzz buzzed a fly that came from on high
    Sat on the drop that the cat did espy

    So Stealthily sly approached the shop cat
    Gave swat with its paw as if for a rat
    Alarmed by the mean cat’s ferocious poach
    The shepherd’s dog set forth fast to approach

    With a huff and puff that blew from its snout
    Dog was ready for a serious bout
    Ire unbound, he jumped on the feline’s back
    Pinned her down, bite her neck til she went slack

    “My dear cat choked to death by the rogue dog,
    Who should die now and become a dead log.”
    Shopkeeper incensed grabbed a hard broom stick
    Swung it with deadly force as if a brick
    The dog fell limp, his death was sure and quick

    “Oh my dear dog, I depend on you much
    You guard my sheep, my home, pastures and such
    May you be damned you bad storekeeper man
    No conscience, shameless, bent on an evil plan.

    So you have bludgeoned my dog to quick death
    Now you will feel the blunt force of my staff.”
    The shepherd man cried loud in a grave voice
    Staff raised to inflict his violent choice

    With deadly aim he delivered blunt pain
    On the grey crown of the storekeeper’s brain
    “Murder, murder a foolish senseless crime
    Help, come quick!”, throughout the town was the chime

    From street to street, house to house all cried
    From one to many the message was plied
    Murder, murder, help there is no excuse
    This murderer must be put to the noose

    One and all came fast from far off places
    From homes, work, with anger on their faces
    Mothers, brothers, uncles, kin and aunties
    They ran through the streets, brave vigilantes

    Running and crying and screaming aloud
    Everyone in town came forth, formed a crowd
    That swelled in numbers, passion and fierce force
    Each stirred others to rage without remorse

    “You stupid bear, hey, you beast-like savage
    Does a civilized man do such ravage?
    Didn’t you come here to purchase some goods
    Yet downed our man like a deer in backwoods.”

    One spoke thus, many struck the sheepherder
    Who was put down as revenge for murder
    He lay on the ground his blood hot and red
    Next to the dog he loved, he joined the dead

    “Hey, fetch the body of this cruel fool
    Back to his village to rot in his stool.”
    The dead man’s family brought home their dear one
    And enraged, called to arms father and son

    Our villager has brutally been slain
    Bludgeoned to death by our neighbors’ insane
    Caught in a trap like an unwitting prey
    Tit for tat we will get revenge today

    The neighboring village was called to arm
    Bent on slaughter each grabbed weapons of harm
    One a gun, another sword or spade
    Skewer, ax, hoe, knife, dead set on crusade

    Mounted on horses or marching on foot
    The rabble set forth to carnage and loot
    That wicked village of devils and fiends
    Without scruples, morals, their hearts unclean

    For a mere purchase they gather a horde
    To dispatch our loved one with staff and sword
    We’ll destroy your village and every man
    Desecrate women’s honor if we can

    Forward, brave Justicers, we’ll right the wrong
    Burn their homes, massacre, attack their throng
    They cursed and blasphemed, cried out loud
    Marched forward to battle angry and proud

    Mercy, compassion, true friendship and all
    Were forsaken in the terrible brawl
    Aggression, attack, fire and bomb blast
    As ruin and flame rose, more fury unlashed

    They were bent on slaughter more and more
    Til the ground was littered with flesh and gore
    The irony of two neighboring towns
    Was each belonged to a different Crown

    One sovereign king when hearing the above
    Made a solemn vow and decree thereof
    “May it be declared in our ancestral land
    From hill to dale, for all that I command

    Our neighboring race fond of perfidy
    Wickedly cruel, prone to iniquity
    When we were serenely reclined asleep
    Armed, they entered our land without a peep

    Murdered and despoiled with extreme cruelty
    Our innocent children without sympathy
    Now our sons so dear, I summon to arms
    From your villages, towns and verdant farms

    Without elan, not really wanting such fight
    I order to action our army of might
    To destroy all those who have harmed us such
    That caused our mothers and daughters grief much

    Bravely battle, destroy our enemy
    God favors us, not our adversary
    Justice merits our retaliation,
    Attack them now without hesitation

    The neighboring king made his plea to arms
    To his army and people with word charms

    “In the presence of my subjects and God
    I condemn our neighbor’s deeds vile and odd
    Immoral, pure evil, treacherous ruse
    Stomping the law, they impugn and abuse
    Our people with false words and arguments
    Expert in lies, pretense and pompous rants
    Destroyed our trust, put our treaty to bust

    Now we are reluctantly pushed to the brink
    Of downward spiral, tit for tat we’ll sink
    For the love of honor, justice supreme
    Cherishing the spilled blond of loved ones esteemed
    For the love of freedom, country and life
    Our love for God, his glory, mercy rife
    Our voices will rise, our will shall prevail
    With our raised swords wreak death, thunder and hail!”

    The horrible din of battle began
    Metal on metal, frightened citizens ran
    Fire burst out home to home in the town
    Blood, destruction, screaming cries all around

    On every side frightened faces, stark death
    The stench of dead bodies choking the breath
    Summer to winter many years of strife
    Farmers paralyzed, the fields without life

    Before the war could be brought to a halt
    Famine and starvation the people stalked
    What was once a prosperous country
    Became deserted, home to misery

    The people that could not leave asked dismayed
    Feeling abandoned, horrified and betrayed
    “What was the cause of this horrible plight
    That destroyed our nation, our honor, our might?”

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  • (Addressing a water fountain basin built by a shepherder on a mountain side to catch the water from a natural spring)
    May he who built this basin (for spring water) live long life extended like the incessant flow of water.

    There is a beautiful poem by Hovhaness Toumanian that illustrates this proverbial good wish (pari maghthank).

    sahree lahncheen, jahyree dahg
    chour ehr pughoum sahrnohrag
    ou tzuhvehlov khohderoum,
    eezour jaheej ehr tahrnoum

    On the side of a mountain, under a rock
    a pristine spring flowed round the clock
    It ran swiftly through the grass
    becoming soon a swamp morass

    nuhrah ahrchev mee khor koush
    sheenetz hohveevuhn ou ahnoush
    khagh ahsehlov nah dhahrahv,
    chouretz hohsuh eer dzahrav

    Sweet- hearted shepherder built with care
    a basin for spring water in the open air
    Singing sweetly the water he ported
    Quenched the thirst of his herd transported

    bahkhrahn ahntzav ehn sahreetz
    shokeetz hahnadz chohr lehzoun
    gousht-gousht khuhmehtz aghpouyreetz
    ahbah nahyeetz nah hehrouhn

    A Goat herder passed that mountain fresh
    Whose tongue was scorched to dry flesh
    he drank and drank from the waters of spring
    And espied another coming to drink

    ahbvoruhn yehgahv dohkaghez
    sahrun aghpioureen vohr hahsahv
    kuhlkharguhn ahrahv ou chohketz
    khuhmetz, seerduh hohvatzahv

    The traveler arrived red with heat
    But when he reached the spring water sweet
    He took off his hat and bowed his head
    Drank the cool water ’til his thirst was fed

    ou duhvahv eer ohrnahnkuh
    ahntzvor mahrtuh ehn pahreen
    “Koh seenoghee ohr-giankuh
    churee nuhmahn yehrgahree…”

    He gave his blessing
    that virtuous traveler
    “To your maker many days of life
    may they flow like water from the spring.”

    There is an Armenian proverb that says (yehrp chour ehs khuhmoum, mee mohrahnah aghpiouruh bahdrahssogheen)
    when you drink water don’t forget the one who made the fountain (of spring water).

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