Riddles, Witticisms and Songs from Hampartzoum’s Letters

Hampartzoum loved riddles, witticisms and songs. He had an extraordinary memory of the likes rarely seen. He could remember what was spoken from his earliest of childhood memories. It was a nightly experience to sit around the fire in the home during dinner time with the family and listen to stories of the elders. Hampartzoum loved to tell stories and jokes  as he grew older and he demonstrated a very witty disposition. Hampartzoum was a very gentle and sensitive man who  never spoke a vulgar word ever.

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Sayings that Sara remembers her father would say from time to time in Spanish and Kurdish.

Der Zor Song

More Excerpts from Various Letters

Part 1

  1. Translation and original Armenian

Sun, sun, come out; your mother and father have come…
Look what they have brought you…
Sweets, walnuts, almonds, and figs…
Ah hah, we tricked the sun,
We made it come out from the clouds.
The crow sat upon the tree..
A piece of cheese in its mouth…
What can I do to get the cheese…
The crow flew away.
-Hello, hundred chickens.
-We are not a hundred. Together with you, plus our [total] number and a half, add up to a hundred.
2                                                                            2

The money is hidden somewhere. There are three horsemen. The horseman whose horse comes in last gets the money. They sit and think for a long time about what to do. A man comes along and whispers something into their ear. The horsemen switch their horses and they start racing each other at high speed. Why?
[Answer] The horseman whose horse comes in last wins the money.
Dogs rise in the spring…
But it knows the wood [spank] it eats.
Pen eh peh,

-Shut your mouth.

It is written on the holy temple:
Knock on the door, He will open it for you;
Ask and you will be given.
Instead of punishing the sinful [Turk], God puts butter and honey on their bread.
The Armenians who worship Him have to suffice with salt and garlic on their bread.

-Allah, we praise and glorify you but you do not reward our prayers. Instead you ravage us with your earthquakes.
-Allah’s reply: I am not at fault, you gave me the 1915 map!
[A rhyme in three lines]
Whence do you come? From upper Vana.
I am “divanah” (insane), you are “divanah…”
If only God would open a door for us.

[A rhyme in four lines].
It rains, it snows, mother turtle comes home.
She cooks rice, but there is no oil.
The priest comes to visit, but there is no place to sit.
He talks of religion, but there is no end to his story.
There is no limit to how much the priest can fill his belly and pocket.

Oh you savage demons of the evil Sultan!
You gave us blood, tears, and suffering.
Villages and cities, fertile fields and valleys…
You turned them into desert and mountains.

So much evil, so much destruction…
If our children forget them,
The whole world should
Curse the Armenians.

My lyre has three mournful strings…
The first weeps blood, the second, venomous tears.
The third stores infinite curses
Against the evil enemy’s hideous face that smells of death.
We are the brave children of Talvorig;
We do not bow before the Turk (villain);
we want neither farmland nor shovels;
Oh brothers, come let us go.
Forward, onward,
Let us give a hand, our support to Dashnaktsutyun.

The Armenians, disunited with Cowardly spirits,

Will perish by feeding on each other (today).

[This is how Dashnak members would shout]

Turk: Tell the truth, you son of infidels?

Do you have any rifles?

Armenian response: Effendi, that is a slander,

The rifle is already beside me.

We are from Zeytoun, we have braves among us.

Give us bread, and we will shoot the Turks.

Antranik with his brave comrades,

Will wage war; he awaits the spring.

Spring is near; soon it will bloom.

The brave word of the Armenian will be soon heard.

-Eat, give, steal…

-There is no accounting for a pack of dogs.

Do not be like the adze, always stroking toward you.

Be like the saw, stroking equally once toward you and once toward us.

They will stand on their heads if they do not unite sincerely.

What does one hand do?

Two hands can make a sound.

Two friends in harmony can join hands

And can build a mountain.

Unity is strength.

With unity, you can become the master of your country.

Disunity results in massacre.

And massacre is hell.

Beloved crane, beloved crane,

It is spring.

Beloved crane, beloved crane,

Send my greetings to my father, my mother.

Beloved crane, beloved crane,

From where do you come and where do you go?

I will write a letter and give it to you

So you can take it in trust. Ahmahnat.

1915 April 24 – 1982 September 24.

Armenian offspring, children of grief:

We have incurable wounds.

We are not afraid of hell.

Our lives have gone through hell.

Our eyes were terrified by what they saw,

Our ears by what they heard.

[Terrified] of disunited leaders

And especially the base stance of clergymen.  -HC

Grandsons of Vartan the Brave

We were born with Armenian blood.

We are loved by Vartan the Brave.

We are filled with vengeance.

We have always hated the evil Turk.

We have learned from our teachers

That we must intimidate rather than fear;

That we must crush the head of the beastly Turk,

So that we will be fulfilled.                                     -HC

Let us comfort the minds of our suffering parents.

Let us join hands and be united.

The sun is up, the time has come.

The rights of the Armenian has reached the limit

The entire world has heard our just voice.

Return the ancestral land of the Armenians.

I wish I could hear the new generation recite this.

  1. Chitjian, who suffered for six years.

The love of the Armenian mother is like the ocean.

The compassion of the father is like the universe.

The only way to appreciate is to keep your blood…uncontaminated.                                                           -HC

When the tree branches were speaking among themselves,

They noticed a man walking towards them with a hatchet clasped in his hand.

The branches began to chatter among themselves,

“What can we do, since the ‘handle’ is from one of us?”

What could the Armenians do, since the “root”

Cause is among us – un united Armenians.

Turkish folk sayings (all in Turkish, except as noted)


Turn it so that the goose will not burn,

So that the words do not hurt.

[The first line is used in modern Turkish to describe a person who changes what he says to avoid offense to anyone].

Chavouroun khaz yanmaseen,

Seozler ele khalmaseen.


This is my tahn.

Half of it is water.

That is what it is, whether you drink or not.

Chelik chiboukh (stick used for a game)

Ayranem boo deer,

Yarise soo deer,

Echersen boo deer,

Echmessen boo deer.


The money of the rich,

The complaint of the poor.

[The poor talk as much as the rich have money].

Zangenin paraseh, Fookharenin changesee.


Lies, lies. I put a saddle on an ant.

I threw a rope over the saddle.

I mounted the ant, I stick the sword on my waist.

I whipped the and, and the ant flew.

It descended in America and got stuck on the White House.

I [Hampartzoum] exchanged kisses with Reagan and Bush.

I collected five thousand lira.

They are all lies. Is this a lie too?

Yalan, yalan, kharenchaya fourdoom palan,

Yeddy yerden chakdeem kholan,

Kharenchaya bindim, minalaye belimeh sokhdoom,

Kharenchaya fourdoom, khazenchah oochdou,

Americaya dushduh, Whait Housah yapeshdee

Reygan ve Boush lan eopourshdoom

Besh bin lira jeb kesdim

Hepise yalan, boo dah mee yalan.


I like Friday because it brings Saturday.

Sunday is the most beloved.

Monday is a killer.

[Names of days in Armenian, the rest in Turkish].

Serdigim ourbat, gethireer shabat

Jandan-jan Kiraky

Jan alesee Yerkoushabty.


The caravan moves on even as the dog howls.

[People do what they do, no matter who much you whine].

It yourour – khervan kecher.



God has created everyone as brothers,

But he made their pocketbooks and fates different.

Allah khardash, khardash yaradmeesh

Khessesy ve yazesy ayry yaradmeesh.



There is no city like Baghdad,

There is no beloved like a brother.

[In the original Turkish, these two lines rhyme].

Bagdad kiby shehir olmaz

Khardash kiby yar olmaz.



The shepherd dog that does not know how to bark,

Brings on the wolves to its herd.

Youroumehsiny beelmeyen eet,

Surusineh Ghourd ketirir.



One cannot make a coat out of dog’s skin.

The Turk cannot be the Armenian’s friend.

[In the original Turkish, these two lines rhyme].

Etin dariseenden post olmaz,

Turk Ermeniyeh dost olmaz.



The son of the infidel, sinks into the ground, the older he grows.

Gyavour oushagee beyoudouk jah yereh geerar.



The day of the infidel

Passes with empty talk.

Gyavouroun gyounooh lakhlkhenan khecher.


  1. [Written in a letter to Kaspar, 1919].

I wrote on the mountain, a mouthful of words,

May God protect you and me,

I miss you like paradise,

May God bring us together again.

Oh, Brother, I weep as I write my letter.

Baghdah yazdeem bir akheez many,

Hagh saghlassen beny elen seny,

Jennet giby eskhemeesh eem seny,

Hagh ghavoushdoursoun beny ileh seny.

Akh, khardashem, aghlayeeb yazareem makhtouboumoo.



Barren from three to nine (when the Turks divorce)

Uchden dhokhouzah bosh.



The poor feet suffer much from a brainless head.

Aghelseez bash alinden neh checker sefeel ayagh.



If only I had the feeblest Armenian brain.

[A feeble minded Armenian is more capable than a Turk].

Ermehneneen son aghlee bendeh olah.




Do some good and throw it in the water.

An imbecile would not know it, but the fish will.

[Somewhere, somehow, it will be appreciated].

Eyilikh eth ath souyah, alekh beelmez, haleekh beleer.

Part 2


What is given by a stranger, cannot be a meal.

Even if it is, it would not be at the right time.

[Do not depend on others].

Elden ghelen oyoun olmaz,

Olsahda vakhdeeneh boulmaz.



While one eats in front of another,

May God tear down his house.

Bery eyah, bery bakhah, Allah onoun aviny yakhah.



Can there be a stream without water?

Can its bottom be without sand?

In God’s name, tell me…

Can a youth be without its love?                           -HC

Pounar sousouz olour mooh,

Deby ghoomsouz olour mooh…

Allah ouchoun seoylein jahel…

Olour mooh.


  1. [From the letter, 4 April 1921]

My eyes do not deserve the sleep of passersby.

I filled my belly with grass and pus.

I moan and cry because I did not have good fortune,

My dear brother, you should see this agonizing letter.

Like a nightingale with its wings bound,

Or perhaps you sing like a nightingale,

So that you sleep before me, beside me.

Ghejehneen ouyghousouh gyozumeh haram,

Garneemeeh doldourdoum yeod ileh veram,

Ah ederim, vah ederim, ben mourad alamadim,

Derthly mekhtoub, bey khardashem keoresin,

Ellery touthar byoulhyoul deyesekh,

Veyahat byoulbyoul ghiby eotesin,

Eonym veh vanemez ouyom ehdeseen.


  1. [From the letter, 12 February 1921]

The stars in the sky are like chilly air.

The troubles of my belly are like complaints.

If I fall down and die with these troubles,

It would be sacrilegious and I would look like a sack…

My story would not be told.


Keokhdacky yeldezlar ayazah benzer,

Kharneemeen dedhlary marazah benzer,

Egher booh derdh elen ben dyushem olem,

Felakhet eethdekyh harareh benzer.


  1. [From the letter, 12 February 1921]

The nightingale weeps tears on the rocks,

Where should I take this troubled head?

My head is troubled,

I have left my nest;

I am like a bird who has lost his way.

Byoulbyoul taph usduneh deoker yasheeh,

Alam nereh ghedem bouh derthly basheh,

Ben beer belaleeh bashah benzereem

Ayreeldeem youvamdan, beer ghoushah benzereem


  1. [From the letter, 12 February 1921].

I wrote a letter for you to receive.

As your read, read between the lines.

Understanding this letter,

You will send sufficient money.

Mehtoub yazdeem alaseen,

Okhouyaseen, dalaseen,

Booh mekhtouboun uzureendeh,

Haylem parah keondereseen.


  1. [From the letter, 12 February 1921]

When I wrote a note, it was summer.

My pen was white.

I wanted to write a lot,

But my ink was sparse.

Yazy yazdeem, yaz eeh deeh,

Khalemem beyaz eeh deeh,

Estedeem keeh chokh yazam,

Murekhebym az eeh deeh.



The mountains are my fate.

Tears are my eye’s fate.

Brother, send me a bird [letter].

The world is my fate.                                                           -HM

Daghlar basheemah felekh,

Gyozoum yasheenah felekh,

Agha, banah khoush gheondereen,

Meeleth daleemah felekh.



The nightingale flew, the rose flew.

You may cry, you may laugh.

Ouchdouh byoulbyoul, ouchdouh ghyoul,

Esder akhlah, esder ghyoul.



I wrote a letter from Goradan.

May the mountains vanish from our midst.

Should bring two hearts back together,

The creator of earth and heaven.                                     -HM

Mekhtoub yazdeem khoradan,

Daghlar ghaghseen aradan,

Ekheeh keonoul beer beereeneh khavoushdoor,

Ery, kheoghu yaradan.



Dark clouds are on the mountains across from us.

How can the healthy know about the feelings of the sick?

Do not tell me, oh stranger nightingale,

[That] I have a heavy heart.                                                -HM

Douman, douman almeesh shouh gharshekeeh daghlar,

Khasdaneen Halinden nehbelir saghlar,

Ettmeh gharib byoulbyoul, ettmeh,

Khoyneem khosh degheel.



Oh mountains, green mountains,

Those who see me, weep.

This is how it is,

This is how my fate is.

The one who wrote my fate

Was asleep from the onset.                                              -HM

Ah dhaghlar, yeshil dhaghlar,

Beny keorenler aghlar,

Bouh nehemeesh, nehemeesh,

Khadereem boyleheemeesh,

Benim khadereemeeh yazan

Elk akhshamdan ouyoumoush.


All around Istanbul are rocky passes.

I have neither a mother, nor a father, nor a brother.

May the black earth be my friend.                                     -HM

Istambouloun deord etrafeeh belekh dash,

Neh anam var, neh babam var, neh khardash,

Ghara toprakh olsoun banah arkhadash.


  1. [from the letter, 12 December 1920]

Love comes one after another.

My handkerchief is full of roses.

Bird flying in the air

Report this, my brother.

Sevkeeler gelir meeldeer,

Mendilim dholouh kyoul deer,

Havadan ouchan ghoushlar,

Dayi khardasheh beeldeer.


  1. [From letter #40]

I roll within a black kilim.

I am a nightingale in a cage.

To the brother who writes letters,

I am not dead, but I am sick.

Kharah kheleem dasdayeem,

Byoulbyoul eem, kafesdeh eem,

Mecktoub yazan khardasheeh,

Eolmemesheem, khasda yeem.


  1. [From letter #40]

I wrote a mouthful of words on the paper.

For God’s sake, do not forget me.

I miss you like the nightingale of paradise.

May God bring us together again.

Kyakhdah yazdeerdeeh beer agheez maneeh,

Allaheeh sever sen ounoutmah beny,

Gennet byoulbyoul ghiby eoskemesheem,

Hag khavoushdoursoun beny eleh seny.


  1. [From the letter, 6 December 1920]

I hunt rabbits on the mountaintops.

I am an unmarried boy.

If my brother allows me,

I will marry the one I love.

Daghdah davshan avlareem,

Ben beer beckhar oghlaneem,

Khardash beneeh everseh,

Sevdeegeemeeh aleer eem.


  1. [From letter #43]

The nightingale is perched on the vine,

On all the trees,

The lover should marry the loved,

On a dry piece of stone.

Byoulbyoul bagh usduneh,

Alem akhaj usduneh,

Sevgeleeh sevgeleeheh verseenleer,

Beer kharah dash usduneh.


  1. [From the letter, 6 October 1921]

If only these mountains did not exist,

If only they did not yellow and fade…

Death is God’s command…

If only there were no separation…

Bouh daghlar olmayah edeeh,

Sararep soulmayah edeeh,

Eolum allaheen emry,

Ayreleekh olmayah edeeh.


  1. [From the letter, 6 October 1921]

There is an oak tree behind this mountain.

In daytime it casts a shadow.

The one who separated me from you,

May his house go up in flames.

Booh dagheen ardeeh mesheh,

Gyoun kelseh, kheolkeh dushseh,

Beneeh seezden ayraneen

Eveneh shivan dyusheh.


  1. [From the letter, 20 April 1920]

Do not glance from the side of your eyes.

Do not burn me with fire.

You are the only branch I can hold onto.

Do not abandon me to hope.

Keozounoun ouhoundan bakhmah,

Beneeh ateshlen yakhmah,

Doutajakh daleem sen seen,

Oumoudlarah brakhmah.


  1. [From the letter, 20 April 1920]

Mountains have filled the space between us.

Our friendship has been broken.

You are the master of earth and heaven.

You are our only remedy left.

Daghlar almesh arameez,

Kheselmeesh mourdarameez,

Ereen, keoghun sahabeeh seen,

Sanah kalmeesh charameez.


  1. [From the letter, 20 April 1920]

Brother, send me snow.

Send me ice from Marama.

The road is far away, it does not get snow.

Send me hope.

Khardash banah khar yeollah,

Mahramahyan sar yeollah,

Yeol yerakh deer khar kelmez,

Banah ahouzer yeollah.


Poems by Hmayag

Antranik’s Song

You fly over mountains and rocks like and eagle.

Heaven and earth echo your voice eagerly.

Your name will be remembered from one century to the next.

The giant mountains are your shelter, Antranik.

Antranik, the master and defender of the fatherland…

When the Kurds and Turks hear your name,

They will slither to their dens like snakes.

The blood of the noble brave never dries up in his veins.

Antranik forever!

Antranik, the master and defender of the fatherland.   -HM

My hour of death has arrived.

I can no longer feel all my pains.

I leave you behind, beautiful flowers.

But that does not matter, God is my master.                 -HM

I cannot sleep in this moonlit night.

Anyone who sees me thinks

That I do not have a home – oh, I do not have a home.

Do not cry, do not cry, Hampartzoum.

I would die for your arched eyebrows,

Tears are harmful to your eyes.

If I could only be a rose that grows in your garden,

So that I could see your handsome face every day.

Do not cry, do not cry. I would die for your arched eyebrows,

Tears are harmful to your eyes.                                        -HM

Dark, black clouds have gathered over your forehead.

You wear smoke Alagyaz [a mountain in western Armenia]

No sun rises in my heart,

My heart is filled with smoke Alagyaz.

Oh, beautiful birds of the mountain,

If only my troubles were yours.

My troubles, dear Alagyaz,

No trouble is like my troubles.                                          -HM

Stand up so that I [ your mother] can tie the sword to your waist,

So that I can hang a talisman around your neck.

So that your mother ?sacrifice in your place?

And those who has escaped from hell, may die in their old age

And you, for your nation.

Now respect those who have escaped by miracle,

So that they can point at the target of their vengeance and is righteous.                                                                             -HM

I have cried much in this world.

I have suffered much in this world.

Those eyes that have not cried

Have not seen anything in this world.                             -HM


Letter 149

Nightly sleep, is forbidden to my eyes;               Kejenin ouykusuh keozumeh haram,

Poison and tuberculosis fills my belly[1].              Karnym doldurdum eod ile veram.

Desires unfulfilled, I mourn and lament.                        Ah derim vahederim ben murad alamadim.

My dear brother, my letter filled with grief,          Dertly mektub bey kardeshim keoresin,

Clipped in a cage, sing like a nightingale         Ellery tutar byulbul diyesek gibi eotesin.

May you receive the pleasure, circling around us. Onum ve yanimyz ouyum ouyum edesin,

Be consoled by God.                                              Baki-i syhhat olasiniz.


Your brother, Rooshdee Chitjian

Letter 83

I am like a bird whose two wings have been broken and he has fallen into the mud and cannot fly. My condition is like that of a lamb that has separated from the flock and starts to scream and weep.


[1] Markar had TB and Hampartzoum had helped him when no one else would allow Markar to be close to them.