Վահան Տերեան | ON THIS DAY

ON THIS DAY in 1920 (7 Jan) Vahan Derian passes away. He was an Armenian poet, lyrist and public activist. He is known for his sorrowful, romantic poems, the most famous of which are still read and sung in their musical versions.

Derian was born in the Gandza village of the Javakhk region of Georgia. Schooled in Tiflis, he then studied at the Lazarian College in Moscow, where he was exposed to symbolism and joined the Russian Social Democrats. He was jailed by Czarist police for his political activity. He is mostly known for his poems dedicated to autumn and love. That’s why Derian is known as “Singer of Autumn” in Literature. He published his first book of poems, “Dreams at Dusk”, in 1908, which made him an immediate sensation, Hovhannes Tumanian calling him the most original lyric poet of his age. He later published “Night Remembrance”, “The Golden Legend”, “The Return”, “The Golden Link”, “In the Land of Nairi” (where he substitute the word ‘Nairi’ for each instance where the word ‘Armenia’ would have suited), and “The Cat’s Paradise”. His poems are filled with images of rain, mist, pallid fields and shapeless shadows, symbols of sorrow, despair and eventually, peace.

In 1913, Derian left Moscow University for the University of St. Petersburg, where he majored in oriental languages, intensifying his political involvement. After the revolution he became representative of Armenians in the Ministry of Nations, personally working with Lenin and Stalin. In 1916, Vahan Derian published a collection of poems entitled Land of Nairi (in Armenian: (Yerkir Nairi), in which he uses Nairi in place of Armenia.

He died in Orenburg of tuberculosis shortly before his 35th birthday. He was buried there and the grave had been marked by a wooden cross, which was quickly forgotten and the exact spot lost. In 1964 soil from the Orenburg cemetery was brought to Yerevan by Terian’s daughter and buried in the Komitas Pantheon with a cenotaph was placed.

Each year there is a commemoration of his life in Javakhk region at Gandza village where he was born.

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