Nikoloz Baratashvili


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Baratashvili, Nikoloz Melitonovich

 

Born Dec. 15 (27), 1817, in Tbilisi; died Oct. 9 (21), 1845, in Gandzha. Georgian poet. Born into the family of a nobleman.

Upon graduating in 1835 from Tbilisi Nobles’ School, where he was imbued with ideas of humanism and national freedom, Baratashvili was forced to become a civil servant in the judicial administration. He viewed civil service as a humiliation. In the early 1840’s, Baratashvili achieved fame as a poet; however, his poetry was published for the first time only in 1852 in the journal Tsiskari (Dawn). In 1844, after his father’s complete ruin, he transferred to service in Nakhichevan’. He then moved to Gandzha (Azerbaijan), where he became ill with malignant fever and died at the age of 27. In 1893 his remains were transported to his homeland and interred in the Didubiiskii Pantheon of Georgian Writers in Tbilisi; in 1938 they were moved again, this time to the pantheon on Mount Mtatsminda.

The poetry of Baratashvili was the peak of Georgian romanticism. In all, he left only about 40 short poems and one narrative poem. As an artistic genius, he was able to express in these works the complex inner world of man and to give answers to the most vital questions of his time. Experiencing Georgia’s loss of national independence in a profound and painful way, Baratashvili was disillusioned with the society of his time. The feeling of isolation which permeated his early poems (“Twilight on Mtatsminda,” 1836; “Meditations on the Banks of the Kura,” 1837) attained a tragic resonance in the poem “Solitary Soul” (1839). However, tragic conflict with reality is combined with profound faith in the triumph of reason and justice. This prophetic gift of the poet was most brilliantly embodied in his masterpiece of philosophical lyricism, Merani (1842). The lyric hero of the poem, the rider of a winged horse, rushes into the unknown distance in defiance of fate. “I am weak, but I am not the slave of my fate,” he says. It is the outburst of a rebellious, freedom-loving individual, an expression of readiness for self-sacrifice, and a hymn to the free and powerful spirit of Man. The symbolism of Merani has many meanings. The hero’s confidence in his predestination and his striving to pave the way to happiness for posterity are vivid expressions of the Georgian people’s will for national and social liberation. Reflections on the eternal problems of life and the most subtle movements of the spirit found their expression in artistically perfect poems such as “The Secret Voice,” “My Prayer,” “I Found a Temple in the Desert, Amid the Darkness . . . ,” “Malicious Spirit,” and “Heavenly Light, Blue Light. ...”

In Baratashvili’s poetic legacy the poem “Georgia’s Fate” (1839) occupies a special place. It depicts the assault on Tbilisi in 1795 by the hordes of the Iranian shah Agha Muhammad Khan. In the poem, Baratashvili realistically evaluates King Erekle (Iraklii) II’s decision on Georgia’s annexation by Russia as historically necessary and progressive.

Baratashvili revitalized the poetics of Georgian verse. He created models of poetic reflections characterized by philosophical profundity and, at the same time, by bewitching plasticity, musicality, and expressiveness. B. L. Pasternak, who translated Baratashvili’s poems into Russian, wrote: “The genius which fills them [Baratashvili’s verses] imparts ultimate perfection to them” (Stikhi o Gruzii: Gruzinskie poetry: Izbrannye perevody, Tbilisi, 1958, p. vi). The work of Baratashvili—Georgia’s greatest poet after Sh. Rustaveli—has inspired many generations of Georgian writers.

WORKS

Lekhsebi (lekhsni thkhmwlni th. N. Barathashvilisagan). Tiflis, 1876.
Thhswlebani. Tbilisi, 1945.
Thhswlebani. Tbilisi, 1968.
In Russian translation: Stikhotvoreniia. Moscow, 1938.
Stikhotvoreniia. Tbilisi, 1946.
Lirika. Moscow, 1967.

REFERENCES

Khakhanov, A. Ocherki po istorii gruzinskoi slovesnosti, issue 4. Moscow, 1907.
Kikodze, G. Gruzinskie klassiki. Tbilisi, 1942.
Gatsereliia, A. Nikolai Baratashvili: Zhizn’ i tvorchestvo. Tbilisi, 1945.
Gol’tsev, V. Gruzinskie pisateli XIX v. Moscow, 1948.
Ognev, V. “Miatezhnyi dukh svobody.” Voprosy literatury, 1968, no. 12.
Abashidze, Kk. Ettiwdebi XIX sawkkwnis kharthwli littsrattwris shesaheb, vol. 1. Khwthaisi, 1911.
Absianidze, G. Nikkolos Barathashvili. Tbilisi, 1955.
Dzhabladze, G. Kkrattakkwla ettiwdebi. Tbilisi, 1958.
Nikkolos Barathashvili. Tbilisi, 1968.
Alania, N. Nikkolos Barathashvili: bibliographia, 1852–1967. Tbilisi, 1968.

G. N. ABZIANIDZE