HOVHANNES SHIRAZ (Onik Karapetyan) (April 27, 1914 – March 14, 1984)

National poet Hovhannes Shiraz (Onik Karapetyan) was born on April 27, 1914 in a farmer's family, in Gyumri,. His father, Tadevos, as the people called him, was a "pastor," his mother, Astghik, , was embroidering. Little John was the only son of his parents, after Sisters Gohar and Mariam. Hovhannes was five years old when he was deprived of his father.

The days of his childhood were passed through the orphanage. However, little Hovhannes, surviving the harsh conditions of the orphanage, escapes and becomes homeless and sells water.

Poet has written many poems about his childhood days, such as "Old Childhood", "I found", "My Little jug", "I Was a Six- Year- Old Baby", "My Friend Lorik" and others.

After graduating from school in 1932, he was accepted Gyumri Textile Factory first as a student of a canvas knitter and later as a craftsman and a weaver.

In 1931 poet's first poem was published in the factory newspaper.

In 1933 he was teaching at the village of Hajinazar (now Akhuryan Kamo).

In 1935 the first collection entitled "The Beginnig of Spring" was published, and the poem "Siamanto and Khajezar" in the same year, too.

The literary name of poet Shiraz was baptized by a great playwright and novelist Atrpet, who wrote with admiration. "The poems of this young man are rosy, fresh and dewed, like the roses of Shiraz."

In 1936-1941 he studied at the Faculty of Philology of Yerevan State University, which graduated in 1949.

Poet's works have been translated into more than 50 languages.

Hovhannes Shiraz is the most beloved and respected poet of all Armenians.

He was the most brilliant defender of the Armenian language and the Armenian identity in the homeland and the Diaspora, the great believer of the Armenian fair trial.

Poet's body is buried in Yerevan, in the pantheon of the Armenian greats after Komitas.

The great poet left a literary rich heritage: poetry series, gazelles, impromptu, sonatas, fables, ballads, quartets, prose, large and small poems, letters as well as translations.

Many songs have been written with his poems, many monographs, studies, memoirs, odes, sayings, etc. have been dedicated to him ...

In 1975 he was awarded with the State Prize Laureate of the USSR for the collection of "Universal" poems. He was awarded with two medals of the Red Banner of Labor and the Order of Honor.

In 1996 a Star was named after Shiraz. In the document certified by Richard L.Ney is mentioned: "As the one of 88 Cannes Major constellations recognized by the Paris-based International Astronomical Union, registered in Switzerland and licensed in the United States, has been reserved in the Congress Library."

Poet's memorial museum was opened on September 27, 2003, in his native town Gyumri.

2005 was marked with the creation of two magnificent statues of Poet in Yerevan and Gyumri. Author of the sculptures is Shiraz' eldest son, famous sculptor Ara Shiraz.

Poet's large-scale poem "Armenian Dante" is the birth of national motives and unfair decision of history, and is dedicated to the martyrs of the Armenian Genocide in 1915.

The great poet was subjected to persecution and slander during his lifetime

For many years, his new works have not been published, considering them nationalistic works, or, if they were published they were with harsh edits and cuts.

The great poet, Poet who has become the son of unity of all Armenians, has never been allowed to visit any foreign country or any Diaspora Armenian community during his lifetime ...

“Hovhannes Shiraz” documentary film by film director Levon Mkrtchyan is dedicated to the 90th anniversary of the great poet Hovhannes Shiraz

This film is especially appreciated by the fact that this is the only full-length documentary film about the creative work of Shiraz as a poet and as a man, where the genius poet's original and remarkable character is masterfully presented in.
This feature-rich documentary film also touches on the old and new history of the Armenian people, the 1915 massacres and national awakening.

"Fist is Eternity of Armenia"

Here is the message of Shiraz to the Armenians of the world.

Hovhannes Shiraz
The Outstanding Armenian Poet of the XX century and Beyond

The poetic heritage of a famous Armenian poet and philosopher Hovhannes Shiraz (April 27, 1915 – March 14, 1984) is a multi-layer outlook on life: philosophical, lyrical, patriotic. Shiraz is an author of about forty poetry books and translations. His tendency to deep and sweeping generalizations is especially notable during the years of the WWII in his collected works such as “Poet’s Voice” (1942), “The Book of Songs” (1942), and “Lyrics” (1946). The leading themes were the issues of war and peace, the destiny of the Motherland and its people, person’s state of mind. Shiraz’ poetry is filled with optimistic spirit, humanism, and faith.
In the post- war years one can find motives of lyric: love, nature, memories, childhood, thoughts on life and death, etc.
Besides his lyric manner, Shiraz is a bearer of an epic talent. His poems “Siamanto and Khdzhezareh,” “Bilblical,” “My Buddy Lorik,” “Hrazdan,” “The Names of our People,” “The Names of our Villages” are masterpieces of poetry where the poet touches upon a number of important issues: glorification of a human being, his creative power able to transform the nature itself. He wrote "The Armenian Dante-esque" about the Armenian genocide, a subject that was banned in Soviet Union. The first version of this masterpiece was written in 1941.
The fifties of the last century are full of new, novel motives. Shiraz’ poems of that period are “Book of Peace and Love (1951), “Selected” (1954), “Poems” (1954) and “Lyre of Armenia” (1958). Shiraz addresses the issues of ethics and philosophy by means of soft images, fine verse, deep generalizations, and emotional density. Once again, he returns to motives of love, nature, philosophical meditation. The poet also puts in writing a series of bright, realistic fables notable for their deepness and harmonious composition.
Shiraz was an anti-establishment poet who was very popular with the people of Soviet Armenia but fought against its corrupt Soviet leadership all his life. His rich vocabulary and sensitive style, enhanced by folk and colloquial elements, made his poetry one of the highest achievements of the Armenian literature.

Poems of Shiraz

Snow falls,
flutters down
like angel-wing feathers
upon my mother's grave.

Snow falls,
piles high
like a tombstone
on the distant grave.

Snow falls,
and God gently lays
snow flake upon snow flake
so that my mother,
pained long ago by Life,
will not hurt again.

Snow falls,
and turns to marble.
God Himself
carves my mother's tombstone.


My son, what shall I will you, what shall I will you, my dear,
That you may remember me in coming sorrow or cheer?
I've no treasures, what treasure, treasure's the light of my eyes,
Only you are my treasure, you treasure of my treasures.
I want to will such treasure for you as your father that
In any other country to will a father cannot;
I am willing that to you which in our great century
Small men have imprisoned and also chained in the clouds;
I will you our mountain so that you take it from black cloud
And bring it home carrying it with our spotless justice,
So that you may throw my dear, even with your poor small paw,
To our side our mountain that's your justice's sea of strength,
And when you bring it, my dear, take my heart out of my tomb,
And toward the free above rise and take with you my heart,
And bury my heart under the snows of Mount Ararat,
So that in my tomb as well it won't be cold from the fire of longing for centuries.
I will you Mount Ararat, that you may keep for ever,
As our language and also as your father's home's pillar.
To Arayig Shiraz
My dear, as much joy as you are feeling,

As much you flower, as much as you sing,
So much roses of oblivion you pour
On the memories of my sad childhood...
Laugh, so my homeless memories may cry,

As I entered life and home I was yet a homeless orphan,
Although I have lost now my poor childhood,
But I have found now thousand gold childhoods.


Among roses, my dear one, you may forget me,
But when the thorns bite you then, call me, I shall come.
Under the sun, in the light, you may forget me,
But when your way is dark then, call me, I shall come.
Wherever I'm in a war or under the earth,
Whenever you fall in pain, call me, I shall come...

Thousand hearts under my chest get ruined,
When your foot touches a stone suddenly...
I have placed my head upon your fortune,
And no matter how many temptation rivers corrupt you,
On all the roads of your life I have placed
My head as a bridge over all of them.
My heart has turned to mother's heart for you,
My heart spreads like field under your feet,
My heart, my dear one, brought you to the world,
I'm the reason for your joy and sorrow...
If any one of your life's roses stings
A thorn into your finger like a tear,
Let that thorn my eye then suddenly sting,
Let my eye's flame then burn all of your thorns...
And him whom my death has brought to the world
That dearest bud life will not sacrifice,
Damned is he who won't hold like a mother
That dearest one like holding earth's future.

My son, be good and always remain good,
Always knead the good in this evil world,
Even in a sea of wickedness one will not become poor
If only a drop of goodness he brings.

Always do goodness, like a pure fountain,
Though the passing flood is cursed but behold,
Yet even the beast will silently bow
Like a thirsty man over the fountain.

The children are calling for me,
The children have not been patient,
The children brought to the city
Flowers of joy from the mountain and the valley.

But how would my dearest ones know
That it's not their pretty flowers,
But they themselves are the spring's life,
They themselves bring for us our spring...

Without flower
It's cold winter inside and out,
Without dear ones, my heart is cold
Under the snows of my own hair.


In my dreams my door was knocked at,
"Who is it?" I asked from inside.
Some elderly lady from the outside
Answered and said, "I'd sacrifice myself for you."

"I've come to ask for a piece of bread as charity
I'm a poor orphan woman with no one to support me."
At this point I opened my door immediately,
Only to find a miracle; it was my deceased mother indeed!

I was shocked but fell into her arms;
And my mother said, "It's me, it's me,
I've come to try you and to check on you.
I hope life hasn't changed your spirit and also you?!"

I came in the form of a beggar
So that the whole world can be a witness
To see if your conscience, my dear son,
If your conscience also died along with me?!"


In my dreams this time I saw my Dad
Who was revealed to me just like my Mom.
With full of fear and also joy, I fell into his arms
While he came out of his grave and began to caress me.

We wept in bitterness and also sweetly;
My Dad looked around,
Smiled to Mount Aragats* tenderly
And then said, "My son is alive indeed!"
But when my elderly father looked at Mount Ararat*,

He looked at me in suspicion,
"In what way can you call yourself my son
When our home is now left to be half empty?"
My Dad once again died due to sorrow and misery

And said to me, "My son, if you want me
And my soul to rest in peace,
Don't let my home be half empty...!"

Mount Aragats and Mount Ararat are looked upon as symbols of inspiration to Armenians all over the world. Many poems, literary works, paintings and musical compositions have been devoted to these sacred mountains.

Oak and Eagle

I placed my heart inside an ancient oak;
The drooping oak greened again,
Towered high, stood against the wind,
And, restored to youth, rustled in contentment.

And my lovetorn heart, so eager to soar,
I put in the breast of a dying eagle;
The dying eagle spread wing and rose high,
To prey again as in the days of its youth.


Shiraz Biblical poem is an unusual phenomenon in Armenian Literature. With its very deep philosophical sense it has also all high values of the artistic writings. Freshness and originality of the images characteristic of Shiraz had appeared in this poem, and such are combined with unexpected comparisons of striking contradictions. Shiraz comes from our heart, he is so much as national, as universal. I got aesthetic pleasure from the Biblical. The Biblical poem is the poet's masterpiece.
Viktor Hambardzumyan
Academician, world-famous astrologer

Hovhannes Shiraz is the most famous character of post-october Armenian poetry.
Derenik Demirchyan

Shiraz Biblical poem is a phenomenal act not only in the soviet literature, but also in world literature.
I was astonished by the fact by what great storms the youth accept Shiraz.
[b][i]Marietta Shahinian
writer and intellectual

I consider Shiraz to be the greatest poet after Charents. His beautiful poetry must have very long life. No other writer can take him under his shadow, as he has the age of his people, and it must not be obscured...
Avetik Isahakyan

Former homeless, now a great poet is Hovhannes Shiraz, the most popular and the most national of Armenia.
Louis Aragon
French intellectual

Only the child of a nation reborn from great grief could create the Biblical. The surface of the beautiful poem is the universal meditation, the inside is the pain in the abyssal.
Bogdan Gembarski
Polish translator of Biblical

Shiraz is a great talent. He is very famous and we are to esteem his existence. He is a talent, and we should feel proud and honored to to get aquanted with him.
He is a big star.
William Saroyan

This boy does not pass under anybodies sword.
Charents / 1934-1935 he /

H. Shiraz is an incomparable poet, he is the King worth of the World Prize. The Armenian people, flight, idea and genius are known by him.
Stefan Galayj
Spanish translator of Biblical and other poems