On Galaktion Tabidze


The world may not believe me if I say that a small nation like Georgia has a big poet like Galaktion Tabidze, whose poesy has undeniably merited description as the crown of poetic thought and rhyme, but I still insist on making this statement and perpetuating it. Tabidze definitely figures among the greatest poets of all time and nations, but the unfortunate thing about him is that he gave his poetic genius to humanity just in his native tongue, which is Kartuli, the language of Georgia, and which is spoken only by several million people around the world. So, the great Galaktion remained the treasure of only his own people and the world was without the pleasure and thrill of reading and perceiving his outstanding poetic word. But times are changing and Galaktion , our Gala, is little by little becoming a globally identified spiritual and intellectual commodity, and this is happening with the help of human talent, readiness, knowledge and desire. In the event of Galaktion Tabidze, the carrier of that particular talent, readiness, knowledge and desire is a very special lady of Georgia, Innes Merabishvili – linguist, poet and translator on a super-professorial level.

Today, as you and I are talking to each other via this unusual dedicated article, something totally fascinating and delightful is happening in Albion. The 125th anniversary of Galaktion’s birthday is being celebrated in Asia House in London, where a book of the great Georgian poet’s verses was published and presented for public judgment and appreciation. And this is happening for the second time. The book is a poetic translation by Innes Merabishvili from Georgian into English of Galaktion Tabidze’s most cherished and famous poems. The world will be much better off when it is familiar with Galaktion’s poetic philosophy and the magic melody of his poetry, masterfully buried in enchanting rhythms and rhymes. Merabishvili, as Galaktion’s translator, has spiritually and intellectually grown into his poetic genius so deeply and organically that the borderline between the source and the target languages has been almost obliterated. Gala’s poetic height is presented absolutely life-size in her translation, having gripped our imagination with the same magical spell of reflection that is harbored in the original. Peoples of the world deserve to have Tabidze’s poesy carved in stone, and Galaktion deserves to profoundly reach into the hearts and minds of those who are thirsty for wisdom-in-poetry. So, the King of Poets, as he was called by his contemporaries, is now at the disposal of the entire world thanks to the peerless efforts of his Georgian translator on the one hand, and a British publisher on the other. Blessed is and will always be their cooperation! Following is one of the poems, translated by Innes, from the precious book, titled ‘Discover Galaktion’.


Skies have never seen the moon tranquil, as is this!

A magic lyre seems serene in the dusk of bliss,

Calling forth on flight blue ghosts, binding them with trees...

I have never seen the skies tender, as are these!

The moon’s like an iris bloom with pale beads of beams,

Gleaming gently all around as in night’s light dreams –

The riverside and the church sparkle in white streams...

Skies have never seen the moon tender, as is this!

An old man’s ghost, so close to me, is in royal sleep,

And the cemetery’s filled with a sorrow deep,

With a daisy and a rose under merry stars...

Oh, these sites are haunted oft by the lonely bard…

Fain would die I as a swan singing on the lake,

But to say how night has looked into soul in pains,

How the dream has spread its wings, reaching distant skies

When the sails of navy blue set are for the heights;

The waterfalls and roses change with swans’ dying songs,

Tunes are altered when they feel that the end is close.

For a soul so strong and bold, that in oceans rose,

Oh, the path of death is none but of sweet pink rose;

On this path, oh, as fairy tales are the poet’s deeds,

There is none of darkened nights silent as is this,

And I say: I’ll greet my death, being so close to ghosts,

With my songs I am dying – a king and a poet most,

Through the ages, but with you, harp of mine will live…

Skies have never seen the moon tranquil, as is this!

Galaktion Tabidze was born on November 17, 1892; he died on the March 17, 1959, and is buried in the Mtatsminda Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures in Tbilisi.

Nugzar B. Ruhadze

16 November 2017 19:24