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Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 11:50:11 -0500
Sender: Former Soviet Republic - Central Asia Political Discussion List <CENASIA@VM1.MCGILL.CA>

Date: Mon, 15 Apr 1996 10:14:35 EET
Subject: Cholpan & the 20th century

Cholpan and the 20th century

By Timur Kocaoglu, 15 April 1996

Abdulhamid Suleyman Cholpan (1897-1938) is the greatest lyric poet of the modern Ozbek poetry in the 20th century. His significant role and contribution to Ozbek literature equals to that of Maghjan Jumabayuli [Jumabayev] (1894-1937) in modern Qazaq poetry and Qasym Tnynystanuulu [Tinistanov] (1901-1938 or 1939?) in modern Qyrgyz poetry.

These three Central Asian great poets also share the same fate: they were disgraded for writing lyric poetry instead of Soviet propagandist poetry in the late 1920s and 1930s, detained several times, and finally were killed during the Stalinist purges like other hundreds of Central Asian writers and intellectuals. Their poems and other works were banned

after 1938 until the mid-1960s when they were posthumously rehabilated, but their works were republished only in the late "glasnost" period after 1987-1988 (Their all works appeared in the 1990s).

Like Maghjan (Qazaq) and Qasym (Qyrgyz), the Ozbek poet Cholpan lived only in the first quarter of the 20th century. But his vision of this century was very precise. In his following short poem, written in Turkey Turkish [he calls it as "Ottoman Turkish"], Cholpan depicts the 20th century as both a century of "science, capability & ascending humanity" and also a century of "evil, degradation, corruption and depravity":

a) Poem in original: XX. ASIR (Osmanlica)

Bu imish: bilgi-fen, huner asri,
Bu imish: yukselen besher asri,
Hadisat oyle gosterir ki, bu asir
Yaliniz: sher ve sher ve sher asri!..
Cholpan [Andijan, 13 Mart 1924]

b) Poem in English translation: THE TWENTIETH CENTURY (In Ottoman)

This has been the century of science and capability,
This has been the century of ascending humanity,
But the events demonstrate that, indeed,
This has been the century of evil and depravity.
Cholpan [Andijan city, 13 March 1924]

Wasn't Cholpan write in his depiction of our century? In one hand we have the tremendous new innovations and developments in science and big steps have been taken in regard to human rights compared to the previous centuries. But on the other hand, we have witnessed the great atrocities of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, the first & second World Wars and others in this century.

Even today, when we look around we continue to see the ugly side of human nature: killing "others" who don't belong to "us"! The continued terrorism in many countries take many innocent lives daily! As one said, the good poets are, indeed, good philosophers and prophets. And Cholpan was one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. That's why he depicted successfully the two faces of the twentieth century in his short poem written in 1924. Let's see which poet will depict the correct characteristics of the 21st century and when? Perhaps, in the 2024 we will see another Cholpan?

Although Cholpan, Maghjan and Qasym are the three great poets of Central Asian lyric poetry of the 20th century, their poems have not been translated into English. I have attempted to translate 15 poems of Cholpan and 15 poems of Maghjan to English and currently an American poet is working on my translations to render them into good literary English which can appeal to a wide readership. I plan to translate about 10 poems of the Qirgiz poet Qasym Tynystanuulu too. I thought it would be nice if the lyric poems of these three poets (Cholpan, Maghjan and Qasym) appear in a single volume. But, my love of the Tatar poet Gabdulla Tuqay (1886-1912) is also very deep that I may end up including Tuqay's poems to this collection too! (Since several poems of Tuqay have already been translated into English, it will be an easier task).

Do anyone now any English translations of the poems of Cholpan, Maghjan and Qasym? If so, please let me know that I may include them in my proposed collection of Central Asian Lyric Poetry.

I would welcome any comments on Cholpan's above poem on the twentieth century!

Timur Kocaoglu (Temur Khoja)