Some Poems

My Native Tongue

Oh, my native tongue, there is no other
Like the one spoken by my father and mother.
Whatever I have learned since when I was young
It is all thanks to you, my sweet native tongue.
My first words to utter I was not yet able,
Mother sang me lullabies, while rocking my cradle.
I’ll forever remember the tales from my granny -
She told me one each night, of them she knew so many.
If it weren’t for you, oh my beautiful tongue,
To this day I’d be speechless and hopelessly numb...
But you are so gracious, together did we grow,
You taught me to express my happiness and sorrow.
Oh, my native tongue, how could I ever forget
That first prayer to Allah, which I myself read?
“Oh, Lord Almighty, in your mercy, please save
My poor parents and me – I’m your humble slave.”

Translated from Tatar into English by Lalja Gilmanova

My Village

Up on the hill, is my village, my aul,
There is a creek, with water pure and cool.
I feel its taste, I know its every part,
I love this place with all my soul and heart.
Here, praised be Allah, I was born and raised
And with the Holy Book, Quran’s ayats amazed.
Here I was told about Muhammad’s life,
Our great prophet, who had taught us to survive.
When I remember that, my eyes fill up with tears
In memory forever live these childhood years.
How with my brother in the field we used to plow
And grains of wheat and rye in soil sow.
I’m still a stranger to this world, but who is not?
I still have much to learn, to see a lot.
And yet I know but one most sacred rule
In memory to keep my village, my aul.

Translated from Tatar into English by Lalja Gilmanova


(A mythical horned demon, which inhabits the forests of Tatarstan)


In vicinity of Kazan there's a village named Kyrlai,
Their chorus is the mightiest when its cocks in loud cry.
Not that born was I in Kyrlai, but I stayed there for a while,
Hard at work with harrowing, sowing, harvesting - all in due time.
I remember thick black forest, by the village like a wall,
I remember field and lawn, soft as velvet in the dawn.
Would you think that village's big? - No, my dear, not at all.
Here is fresh water taken from the cheerful spring hole.
Air isn't cold or hot - it's all comfortable there.
When the raspberry - strawberry paint red the nearest lawn,
In a blink of eye your pail will be filled with their lot!
Fascinating land! Pines, fir-trees like the guardians stay alert,
Often used to rest beneath them, turning powerful twice more.
Here or there seeing mushrooms, sorrel, buds or flowers' blossom
Under birch or aspen-tree - having been obsessed too close to them
Such a balmy air's here from those blooming fragrancies,
Colored blue and colored yellow, variegated red, white, lilac!
And so motley butterflies are, making rivalry to bloom,
Flying, taking off and coming, - fed with nectar are they all!
And you feel sometimes as if birds of Paradise are singing,
Making heart stop sweetly still, and your soul wings do quiver.
All in one place, here they are! - theater, orchestra and ballet,
Concert, circus, boulevard - all that makes you ever jolly!
Huge as Khan Chingiz's troops, like the giant with thousands heads
Endless forest starting there, as deep ocean rise in waves.
I see through the ancient time, our forefathers lived in,
Their glory, their names, lovely stories, lovely views
Of their honorable state.
As if curtains on the stage open are again
And at last you see them all, wondering what we are now -
Still, we are the sons of Lord blessed!


I described the summer beauties, - autumn, winter are ahead.
Maids innocent and black eyes will be featured a bit later.
Sabantui celebrations, horse race, holidays on site
If I each of them remember, I'll be too far from my path.
Well, you see, that I'm diverted, thinking of the village fun,
Would you tell me what's the title? - «Shuraleh» is signed above.
Wait a minute, please, my dear, friend of mine, you see my puzzle
In the moment when the village views again come into my mind.


And of course, that dense thick forest as we see it nearby
Is a home to wolves and foxes - every beast of pray alive.
Here a bear is sure to meet you, if you hunt him in a brake,
These are common things to hunter - seeing hare, facing elk.
But they say, black forest's homeland for the evil spirit crew:
Devils, werewolves and goblins, shuralehs are frequent, too.
Why not? Endless forest shows miracles, as do the skies -
Many miracles in heaven, never seen and never tried!


That's a nice start to my story - small narration that I tell:
It was summer full-moon evening, when Dzhigit left home, he dwelt,
Making horse-way to the forest - needs some firewood to get.
Stars were twinkling in the sky, horse was mettlesome, indeed —
In a blink the dense drew nearer, and Dzhigit was inside it.
Fascinating silence seized him, when he looked around, amazed.
Dzhigit took to work at once, cutting firewood with ax.
Oh, indeed, Dzhigit was master of his job, and quick at work,
Night was flying by, invisible, as his ax was cutting log.
Taken breath was light and free, and cool air braced Dzhigit,
Ax in hand, - and there was nothing to retard him in his deed.
Suddenly, the tranquil air has been broken by a cry,
And the woodcutter has shuddered, as if bitten by a fly.
Then he stood alert, all ear, to see Something on the path -
Was it spirit or a human, or a werewolf's black mouth?
Who was that disgusting monster, smiling such an awful smile?
Ugly nose of the being touched his chin, as long as knife.
Long thin hair of a beard, knotty all from top to toe,
Deep black eyes without eyelids were sparkling as a coal.
He was somewhat like a human, thin and lean, - if not a horn,
Black horn, finger-size was leaning, middle forehead sticking on.
Neither daylight, nor in night-time could you stand his look - God save!
Though his crooked arms had the fingers, straight and long as are the nails.


So they stared at each other for a long time, and Dzhigit
Bravely asked the ugly being: «Who are you and what's your wish?»
«Don't be scared, you, the human, I am not an outlaw.
Nor as innocent as baby, -1 am used to cheat you all.
When I see the lone person in the forest - tickle guy,
Now I see that you are single, and I dance for joy and cry!
Show me your fingers quickly, let me closer to 'see,
You'll play titi-titi-titi - titillating game with me!»
«Well, I'm not against at all, no objections but at first
Meet my will, it's not as big...» — «Tell me everything you want.
I'm at your disposal, only hurry up, I'll keep my word».
«Well, I see that you agree with my offer, - learn it now:
See that heavy fir-tree beam? If I help you, on your turn
Will you take it to my truck?
Beam is chopped on your side — easy carry, easy go!
Take the log by split and thus let us draw it on the slow.
Have you caught idea? - then hurry up, you, timber-cow!»
Shuraleh has followed strictly orders told him by Dzhigit,
Quickly fixed his fingers in long and deep split of the beam.
Now I think, you are aware, what woodcutter plotted on:
There was a wooden wedge in open mouth of the log.
Sly Dzhigit was very tricky, slightly hammering his ax.
Shuraleh was quite submissive, sure that he winner was.
Wooden wedge was loosened free by the knocks of ax at last,
Shuraleh's ten fingers were clutched by the beam - so fast!
That was moment, Shuraleh cried of pain and saw the trick,
Pleading with his forest brothers to release him in a blink.
Shuraleh was begging Dzhigit, praying him as saint:
«Oh Batyr, release, forgive me, save me for God's sake!
Swear you, oh mighty human, forward since today
I shall serve your will and never dare to attack!
And your progeny and offspring never be unsafe,
And my brothers in the forest will take care of them.
Strolling in the forest never will be blame.
Let's make peace, you see, enough I am chastised, bless you God!
Do you like my troubles and pains?» - suffered poor creature, crawled.
Silently Dzhigit was leaving for his home without a word,
Seeing no other reason in the monster's screams and oath.
Holding horse by bridle gently, stepped he forward, free to act...
Seeing that he wouldn't follow him, Shuraleh said in despair:
«Pitiless you are and hostile to the peaceful Shuraleh,
Only thing before you leave — tell me name of yours, Dzhigit!
Hope, that hearing my voice, brothers rescue me tomorrow -
If me only to survive - then they ask the name of wrongdoer».
«Well, calm down and be quiet, - said the daredevil boldly, -
«Past» my name is, understood? I should be your elder brother.
Now I'm leaving, say good-bye, and don't worry, cheer up!»
Shuraleh still screaming, weeping asked for pity more and more,
Pleading, threatening, entreating, loosing head of grief and sorrow:
«Help! Release me from the split! Crime against me is sure -
Past has squeezed my fingers, cheat! Devil, gangster, killed me, poor!»
In the dawn the shuralehs came to see him on the place:
«Crazy, silly, senseless creature, long and loud is your cry,
Shut your mouth and be silent, for your screams too stupid are,
Squeezed your fingers in the past, then why are crying you at moment?!»

Translated from Tatar into English by Lalja Gilmanova

The Water Maid

(Told by a country boy)


Тhe summer day was hot and sunny, and I was swimming in the lake;
A splash of water, games so funny and dives I liked to take.
This merry way I did enjoy my playing for an hour
And certain was I not to sweat, moreover short I was of power;
So quickly I ran out of the lake to put my clothes on.
But what was wrong? A sence of fear! And all my friends were gone!
To leave the place I was about, but suddenly I saw a bridge.
And on the bridge I saw an awful woman. Was she a mermaid or a witch?
In the daylight, broad and clear, golden combs of hers I saw.
She was doing her long hair, I had doubts no more.
Breathless, frightened even shocked stood 1 there not so long;
In the shade of old thick trees I felt tremor in my knees.
Having combed her thick long hair, splashing water in the air
In the waves she dissapeared. Oh, my Lord, I so feared.
As for me I ran towards the bridge, thoughtless was of course that siege.
But how great was my surprise: golden combs of hers beheld my eyes.
What I did - I looked around. Not a single soul was seen.
Like a thief I took one from the ground. Oh, of me it was so mean.
Seeing nothing on the way, I was rushing far away.
I was burning in the fire, would I get through all that mire?
Time was endless, so I thought, looked around, her I sought.
What I saw was awful, scary. I was followed by the fairy.
«Will you stop? Don't run away! How unlucky is the day!»
Shouting she was chasing in a line. «Don't you know the comb is mine?»
I was trying to escape, she was roaring like an ape.
In the field I was alone, being followed by her moan.
Running this way so fast, came the village into view at last.
Soon the dogs began to bark, it was such a nice good mark.
«Bow-wow-wow», - the dogs were barking, after her they all were darting,
«Now it's your turn, be afraid, good-for-nothing ugly maid».
So the business being settled, though the creature was too nettled;
I achieved my evil goal. Heavens! I was on a roll!
On my coming to my place, rushing home at such a pace,
Told my mum I with a burst that enormous was my thirst.
I showed her a comb of gold, tried to look so brave and bold,
Words of mine that it was found seemed to her to have no ground.


Farewell! The sun went down and at once I went to bed.
I was lucky not to drown. Thanks to God I wasn't dead.
While I was upon my pillow, sleep did not befall on me.
I heard knocking at the window. Oh, my God, I wished to flee.
Notwithstanding all that noise, I behaved like real boys.
But my mum was soon awake, would she know I was a fake?
«Who is there making dogs to bark? Who is walking in the dark?
Decent people stay at home, night is not the time to roam!»
«People call me Water Maid and of gold my combs are made.
One was stolen by your boy, give it back, it's not a toy!»
In the sky the moon was bright. I was left by all my might.
Trembling I lay in my bed. If I could, I would have fled.
She was knocking all the time. Her concern was very prime.
Water dropped from her long hair, was she only my nightmare?
Mother quickly took the comb, threw away it from my home.
Prompt she was to lock the door, she wished troubles no more.
When we got rid of the maid, to the Lord she humbly prayed.
Then she scolded me in time, stealing things was such a crime.
Since that time I understood, let it be a thing or food,
Not to touch and not to take what was left not for my sake.

Translated from Tatar into English by Aydar Shamsutdinov