Poems

Vainakhs

Notes

This stirring, partisan and patriotic poem was a challenge and a delight to translate. Georgia and neighbouring Chechnya have suffered a series of brutal invasions and this poem is written against that historical background. Below are some footnotes to names and places mentioned in Vainakhs.

Vainakhs: The Vainakhs are a group of historical and modern people in the Caucasus who speak the Vainakh languages namely Chechens, Ingush and Georgian Kist).

Ichkeria: the historical Turkic name for a region more or less coinciding with the Republic of Chechnya.

The 'ruined vineyard' is a metaphor for the destruction of these regions by the Soviet Union and by Russia.

Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, was razed to the ground during the first and second Chechen wars that came in the wake of the collapse of the USSR prompting many to compare its destruction with that wreaked on Hiroshima.

Prince Cholokashvili a Georgian military commander who is one of the country's most revered national heroes.

The Mongols and the Kalmyks are traditional enemies of the Caucasians.

I'd dress Russian generals in cheap felt boots
And dispatch their go-go girls back home for good.

These lines spring from the profound contempt that many Georgian people feel for the Russians who occupied their country; cheap felt boots are hardly ideal wear for mountainous snowy conditions; the generals were accompanied by many female 'camp followers'.

Sarah Maguire, Workshop Facilitator

 

Notes on the literal translation:

[1] “boots” in Russian

[2] Russian female name

[3]  “Russia” in Russian

[4]“Caucasus” in Russian

[5] Georgian Chechen

Natalia Bukia-Peters, Literal Translator

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