Come on, Rise Up, Azerbaijan (1992)
by Mammad Araz (1933-2004)

Why are you still sleeping, you old volcano, 1
I am with you!
Come on, rise up now, Azerbaijan, I am with you!
We can divide everything, except you.
We will all pass away, except you.
This is Shahriyar's wail,
Come on, rise up, Azerbaijan!
This is what time is telling us,
This is what your ancestor from his grave is
telling us:
You, my brave spirit, I am with you!
I am with you, you with the gun,
You with the pick ax; you with the pitchfork
You, man of virtue, with fire,
I am with you!

I am with you-you, father of girls,
Where is your roar, where is your bellow?
Where is your sworn oath?
Or have you become one of those
Still sleeping, still flattering,
Perhaps, one of those without self-esteem?

Wipe your tears, son of this land,
Rise up now!
Look carefully at the horizon that is now your own,
Look carefully at the border that is now your own,
Look carefully at the perimeter of the border
that is your own!
Come on, throttle the fear inside yourself,
Choose either to be or not to be.
Come on, drive the hare out of yourself,
Come on, make a gray wolf
4 of yourself!

You, my only one, I am with you!
You, the delight of my eyes, I am with you,
You, my sweet dream, I am with you,
Knock me down off my word-horse,
Throw me under the tanks,
Crush me, smash me.
If my word-sword pierces no more,
Slash me, gash me.
Cast me under the tanks
Just to save a child in diapers,
Just to save thousands of you,
Thousands of me.

I am with you, miserable leader!
Your worker father, my worker father
Were not just speaking, but fighting in 1918!
Wake us up, you, Great God, I am with you!
Either let us sleep forever
Or fashion us into a new creation!
You, Great God, I am with you!

I am with you, you, sleeping volcano,
I am with you!

Come on, rise up now, Azerbaijan,
I am with you!

1 Though Azerbaijan has no volcanoes that spew out lava, mud volcanoes are believed to be more extensive and more concentrated in Azerbaijan than in any other country. They are associated with underground reservoirs of oil and gas located both on land and in the Caspian Sea. The poet uses the imagery of a volcano to evoke a situation that is silent for a long period, but then suddenly and unexpectedly erupts.

2 Mohammad Hussein Shahriyar (1907-1987) was one of the most beloved Azerbaijani poets living in Iran. He revitalized Azeri as a literary language and is especially remembered for his poem, "Heydar Baba, Salam" (Greetings, Heydar Baba), which refers to a mountain near Tabriz close to where he grew up. Shahriyar mourned the tragic split of Azerbaijan into two parts-Northern Azerbaijan (now an independent republic) and Southern Azerbaijan (now a part of Iran), which took place when Iran and Russia signed a treaty together in 1826.

3 The gun, pick ax and pitchfork symbolize the working class.

4 The gray wolf symbolizes Turkism. Legend says that Oghuz (the father of the Turkic peoples) was rescued and raised by a wolf. The gray wolf has come to be associated with bravery, fearlessness and courage.

5 A reference to January 19-20, 1990 (known as Black January) when Soviet tanks entered Baku and tried to crush the independence movement. Hundreds of innocent victims were killed-no one knows exactly how many.

6 The year 1918 marks the founding of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan (May 28). This fledgling government survived for 23 months until April 28, 1920. Bolshevik military forces clashed in the streets of Baku in early 1918, killing an estimated 10,000 people in two weeks' time.

Mammad Araz is the pen name of Mammad Ibrahim (1933- ). Araz refers to the river that separates Northern Azerbaijan (now the independent Republic of Azerbaijan) from Southern Azerbaijan (part of Iran). For many years, until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijanis on opposite sides of the border were not able to visit each other or even to telephone one other. As this obviously separated close friends and relatives, Azerbaijanis were very pained and frustrated. In the 1970s, when issues relating to the borderline were heating up, the author adopted the pen name Mammad Araz.

The poem, "Come On, Rise Up, Azerbaijan" was written in 1992 and first published in his book, "The World Won't Get Any Better," published that same year.

Translated by Aynur Hajiyeva

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