A Little About Georgian Poetry by Ucha Sakhltkhutsishvili
The Georgian Republic, with a capital city
of Tbilisi, was one of the republics of the former USSR. The
Georgian Republic is situated in Caucasus, between the Black
and Caspian Seas. The country's population is about 5 million
people. The Georgian people were in an incessant struggle
for their independence for many centuries against foreign
invaders from Persians, Arabs, Mongols, Turks and others.
Because of this, Georgians have in them a sense of chivalry
and patriotism, which converted to a societal expression in
great ballads and poems.
Folklore is the source where modern Georgian
poetry takes its origin from. Folklore has preserved many
a proof of the antiquity of Georgian culture; the legend of
Amirani during the latter half of second millennium B.C. is
particularly eloquent in this respect.
Amirani (the son of the Sun) is a hero who
frees his people of monsters and demons oppressing them. He
teaches people to work metals, to kindle fire
is opposing even heaven itself. In punishment for this, God
chained him to a rock in the Caucasus. This legend is the
origin of Greek Prometheus.
Georgian poetry in Y-X centuries A.D. was
basically ecclesiastical, mostly hagiographic. The most flourishing
period of Georgian hymnography was eight-century (Ioane Sabanisdze,
Micel Modrekili, and others).
From the X century began the Golden Age of
classical old Georgian poetry. The X-XII centuries were the
classical age of cultural renaissance. In this period Georgian
poetry freed itself of the shackles of ecclesiastical dogmas
and became laic in character. The peak of its development
attained Georgian poetry to heights in works of Chakhrukhadze
("Tamariani", a collection of 20 odes dedicated
to the great queen Tamar and her consort David Soslani). The
poem is rhythmical and musical based on internal and end rhymes.
Another work was Ioane Shavteli's "Abdul
Messiah" eulogy to David the Builder (1084-1125), who
had consolidated the Georgian state.
The most outstanding representative of old
Georgian poetry was Shota Rustaveli. His poem "The Knight
in the Tigers Skin" is still an unsurpassed masterpiece.
The poem develops over the vast territories of India, Arabia,
China, and Venice. Despite the wide vast territories, it is
deeply national. The characters are veritable symbols of love,
friendship and heroism. Shota Rustaveli's heroes strive to
make this world better and happier. The poem's main motif
is patriotism based on the love and friendship Rustaveli's
heroes: Avtandil, Tariel and Pridon reach in the victory.
The poem is rich with brilliant aphorisms.
Shota Rustaveli was the peak of Georgian literature.
In the XII-XIV centuries, Georgia was occupied
by Mongols, then Turks and Persians changed rule in the XV-XVIII
centuries. The unity and might of the state was destroyed;
Georgian people lived in awfully hard conditions and, of course,
their cultures declined. Despite all of this, rare but significance
poetical works were created.
Ioseph Tbileli wrote a poem "Did Mouraviani",
in which he described the struggle of the Georgian people
against foreign invaders. Didi Mouravi (Giorgi Saakadze) was
a famous chief of the military, who struggled for state unity
not only against foreign invaders but also against inner feudalism
. That is why he emigrated to Persia and Turkey.
The king of Kakheti, in the eastern part of
Georgia, Teymuraz I, wrote some lyrical poems.
Archil II, a king, was also an outstanding
poet who wrote some realistic verses and poems.
The most brilliant poet of the XVIII century
was David Guramishvili, whose works are lost, but only one
volume "Davitiani" which he copied when he was 69
years old is still very interesting to understand the conditions
in which Georgian people lived in this period. His principal
work "The Woes of Kartly" describes the misfortunes
of Georgian people in the hands of the Turks, the Persians
and raiding parties from the hills.
At the beginning of the XIX century Georgia
was incorporated into the Russian Empire, the result of which
Georgian people begin to develop their economy and culture
in peace. At that time, Georgian romanticism sprang up. Alexander
Chavchavadze headed this period. Nikoloz Baratashvili, Grigol
Orbeliani and others were representatives of romanticism.
The classical Georgian poetry begins with
Ilia Chavchavadze, Akaki Tsereteli, Vazha Pshavela and others
in the second half of the XIX century.
Ilia Chavchavadze was a great writer and thinker
who laid the foundation of the new Georgian literature and
of the modern literary language. He wrote brilliant verses,
poems, stories, plays, critical essays and sharp articles
of the social sphere. He was killed in 1907 by order of Communists
At the beginning of the XX century, when Georgia
became one of the republics of the USSR, the arts and certainly
poetry changed its manner. Writings were limited The main
motif of Soviet Union poetry was the praising of Lenin, Stalin
and the Socialist system. So, a new type of Soviet Poetry
was born. If anybody was suspected of writing poetry outside
of the government preferred style, they were killed. Many
gifted poets limited their craft and they spent their writing
time commending the existing regime or they just did not expose
their true talents.
The most significant Georgian poets of the
XX century are Galaktion Tabidze, Tician Tabidze, Giorgi Leonidze,
Simon Chikovani, Irakli Abashidze, Lado Asatiani, Ana Kalandadze
and a few others.
At the end of XX century The USSR was ruined,
but despite that, Georgia as well as other socialist republics
became independent. There appeared so many living problems
that the culture and, of course, the poetry, went to shade.
Many talented writers emigrated to find jobs and to become
the breadwinners of their families, who were left behind in
Article written by : Ucha Sakhltkhutsishvili
- a VoicesNet contributor living in the Georgian Republic
(once part of the Soviet Union - USSR).