The Light Within

Daniel Varoujan is a revered Armenian poet of the early 20th century. He was 31 when he was brutally executed at the start of the Armenian Genocide in 1915. 

The images on this page are based directly on Varoujan's poem, "The Light" (see below). My Heart and Soul series, especially "My Heart is the Empty Vessel", is in large part inspired by the imagery, alchemy and mythology in this poem. 

Indivisible Vibrations of Heart and Light

Daniel Varoujan (1884-1915)

I go to the source of the light . . .
The path, bent like refracted rays,
Is long and paved with flint stones
Strewn among thorns of bitterness.
I proceed, pinned upon tottering knees
Nailed by my brothers
And from which my lifeblood seeps.
My breast heaves, lashes are edged with dust,
My heart is the empty vessel,
And I go to the source of the light . . .

The light is good as it flows from its heights
To a humbled form of justice.
I once saw a part of the Holy Being
Made radiant in my Mother’s soul.
It dawned upon the verdant grave of a timeless hero of my village.
I saw it at midday,
Like a large, snow-pure butterfly
It played upon my heated sill
And flowed with forgiving mercy
From pavements and filthy road,
Warm as new-drawn milk.
The evening light, horizon to horizon,
Converged like ruby rivers
Shaping in the calm skies dreamlike pools
In which blazed up islands of lilies.
I saw it! – and in my soul awakened
The unresolved and burning desire of migrants
To a foreign, sun-filled province.
And now I go to the source of the light . . .

It is Psyche’s bride, God’s daughter,
Wine to the joyous Universe that
One evening flooded from Jesus’ side
And poured as forgiveness, downward,
To fill the chalice of hopeless men
Seated at the table of sin.
It is nature’s blood,
The crown of night, mantle of day,
The Eye of God which,
Like a mother dead in labor
Creates at her moment of holy death.
It is the Eye with fiery pupils
Whose soul pulses every Spring
In each atom, each human thought,
For whom the sacred shores of the flowing Ganges
Still fume with sacrificial victims.
And I go to the source of the light . . .

The light is the marble of celestial mines
With which Art through eternal visions
Sculpts the glowing bodies of gods.
In its breast are born
The somber Dantes and the giant Homers.
In its breast Sophia is a song
Which in the depth of night
The poets drink from stars
To play to the People at day.
The light gives of itself to all,
Divides amongst all, yet remains whole
Like the Host – it is the Host which descends
Each morning upon our tables
In the rite of blood-washed Incarnation.
And I go to the source of the light . . .

Thousand, how many thousand years
Must I walk, must I fall
Along the way, mortally wounded
By rock-shattering hammers of purpose.
I know only that, O brothers,
O crucifying brothers,
I must be alone in this journey,
So alone and silent
As to hear my heart, my chosen melody
From the multitude of melodies.
Cast not your shadow like the somber wing of a falcon
Upon my sun-filled road, leading me to suns,
And summon me not to jolly feasts
Where prostitution plays the tune.
Yet is it vanity to pledge myself to maidens –
For my heart is the empty vessel.
And I go to the source of the light.

(translated by A. Chutjian)