Saturday, June 22, 2019

Death of Misak Medzarentz (June 22, 1908)

Modern Armenian literature had tuberculosis as one of its enemies. Several brilliant poets became victim to this cruel illness just as they began flourishing. Among them was Misak Medzarentz.
He was born Misak Medzadourian on January 19, 1886, in the village of Pingian of the district of Akn (Kharpert). The village, situated on the left bank of the Aratzani (the western branch of the Euphrates river), was surrounded by nature and beautiful scenery, which left a deep impression on the future poet and would become the source for wonderful lyrical songs.
In 1892, at the age of six, Misak started his studies at the local Mesrobian School, but his timid character did not help him excel.
The Medzadourians, a well-to-do family, moved to Sepastia (Sivas) in 1895, and Medzarentz continued his studies first at the Aramian School and a year later at the Anatolia College of Marsovan, a boarding school. He befriended several of his classmates and participated more actively in social life, performing in several student plays. His interest in literature led him to wide readings in Armenian, English, and Turkish. He took his first literary steps at this time. According to various contemporaries, he wrote poetry on the walls of his bedroom and the reverse of his brother’s commercial newspapers.
In 1901 there was a crucial episode in the life of Medzarentz. Some Turkish boys took him for one of their rivals, beat and knifed him, and this became the reason for the poet to contract tuberculosis. He was treated during several months at the monastery of Surp Hagop. From 1901-1902, Medzarents worked at the trading house of his brother and first cousin as a supervisor.
In 1902 he went to Istanbul, where his father had been working for several years. He had spent his entire childhood without seeing him. He continued studying at the famed Central College (Getronagan Varjaran), where he studied Armenian history, Armenian and world literature, and French and English. However, the progress of his condition forced him to drop out in 1905.
In 1903, at the age of seventeen, Medzarentz started publishing poetry under various pen names in the Armenian press of Constantinople. He finally opted for the name Misak Medzarentz in 1905. He collected some of his poems in two collections,  Rainbow  and  New Odes,  both published in 1907.  
His literary heritage consists of more than 130 lyrical poems endowed with an exquisite sensitivity and linguistic talent, about a dozen of prose poems and stories, and several literary essays, where he explained his creative principles and defended himself against hostile criticism. He also published several translations from Geoffrey Chaucer, Rudyard Kipling, and Oscar Wilde.
Despite the care and the efforts of his friends and family, Medzarentz passed away, a victim of tuberculosis, on June 22, 1908. His poetic legacy, however, left a powerful impression over generations of Armenian writers.