Kirghiz lament: You were alive just yesterday!


My noble, dear brother,
let me begin my song saying
(in the name of God)
you were alive just yesterday!
How can I send you away without singing a lament? ...
Oh, my noble, dear brother,
you left your daughters in sorrow.
Oh, dear world,
now, is there anybody in my village
who will be equal to you,
who will listen to my words
my dear brother?
Oh, my dear brother,
human beings are weak before
God’s power....

  --A Kirghiz lament, as translated on CD notes "Music of the World," Paris. If you know the source, could you please send it? Thanks to Thomas E. Jenkins of Trinity University.

Chingiz Aitmatov: Tanabai loses his friend

That very evening Tanabai returned to his camp in the mountains.

His wife met him in silence. She took the reins. She helped her husband dismount.

Tanabai turned to her, embraced her and buried his head on her shoulder. She embraced him and wept.


"We buried Choro. He's no more. I've lost my friend, Jaidar!" Tanabai said and once again gave vent to his tears.

Later he sat in silence on a large stone outside the tent.

He wanted to be alone, he wanted to watch the moon rising, appearing slowly from beyond the jagged crest of the white mountain range. His wife was putting the girls to bed inside. He could hear the fire cracking in the hearth. Then the humming string of her temir-komuz began its heart-rending song. It was as if the wind were howling anxiously, as if a man were running across a field weeping, singing his plaintive song, while all else was silence, waiting with bated breath, while all was soundless, and only the lonely voice of human sorrow and grief kept running on. It was as if it ran on, not knowing where to find shelter for its grief or how to find consolation in the silence and wilderness, and not a soul called out to him. And so it wept and harkened to its own grief. Tanabai knew his wife was playing "The Old Hunter's Song" for him.

        --Kirghiz writer Chingiz Aitmatov in "Farewell, Gyulsary!" (1959), translated by Fainna Glagoleva