November 23, 2003 by

Rasul Gamzatov

9 comments

Categories: Writers/Editors

rgamzatov.jpgRasul Gamzatovich Gamzatov, a Dagestani poet whose writings were translated into dozens of languages, died on Nov. 3. Cause of death was not released. He was 80.

Born in Dagestan, a republic in the Northern Caucasus, Gamzatov began writing poetry when he was 11 years old. He was tutored by his father, Gamzat Tsadasa, a famous bard who regaled him with stories, legends and poetry.

In 1943, Gamzatov published “Love Inspired and Fiery Wrath,” his first book of poems. With royalty money in his pocket, he was able to travel to Moscow and attend the Gorky Institute of Literature.

Over the next 50 years, Gamzatov became one of the most prolific of poets in the former Soviet Union. He wrote 20 books of poetry and prose in his native Avar tongue, a language spoken by no more than 500,000 people. His books were then translated into many languages, which sold millions of copies. Gamzatov also wrote the lyrics to the song, “Cranes,” which appeared in the award-winning 1957 film, “Flying Cranes.”

Gamzatov won the Lenin Prize for poetry and served as the chairman of the Union of Daghestan Writers. He was given the title People’s Poet of Daghestan, and in honor of his 80th birthday, 2003 was designated as Rasul Gamzatov Year.

Poems by Gamzatov

9 Responses to Rasul Gamzatov

  1. Favour Francis

    One of the most terrible days in my life was the day when I lost my collection of Rasul’s Poems gifted by my uncle while I was an undergraduate student. It may sound strange that an Indian college student, with no particular sentments for Russia and literature (I was a student of Zoology then)find such a collection as the most precious gift in his life. The memories of that book still haunts me. Thickly bound in Black, with the original Russian verse on one side and the English translation on the other, the book taught me the universal nature of love. It made me the most sought out companion in the Bachelor parties with “men drank and died, still drink and die, but shall death pass non-drinkers by!”, my trade mark quote of Rasul. The inscriptions and octaves took my senses to a world of unseen and untouched pleasures. The very first love letter to my sweetheart (now my wife) ends with the lines- “what to whisper in yor ears, as shadows interwine, may the last GOOD NIGHT you hear, always dear be mine.”)Rasul was one of the two poets I value most in this whole earth. The other one is my father, K C Francis, once a leading poet in Malayalam (The Language of Kerala, the southern most disrtict of India).I came to know about rasul’s demise while I was serching the net to regain the lost poems. I got it all. Bye Rasul, Red Salute!
    By Favour Francis
    favourfrancis@rediffmail.com

  2. Ramanpreet

    one of the greatest poets of all time without any doubt
    he was one of those very few writers who have tremendous love for their land,language,people and culture

  3. Amir

    I first encountered Rasul gamzatov when a friend of mine gave me a book of his versus when i lived in Moscow.The words that were written down told a thousand tales, that still linger with me even today.
    He touched the human soul in ways that want to make you a better person.
    I would of liked to have met him but i guess it wasn’t to be.I am blessed that i have something of his in my library.It is more than just a book.It is the human soul expressed through ink.
    The world will miss you but take solice that you are loved by people who will carry your integrity where ever they will go.Myself included.
    Goodbye my unknown friend.
    Amir from London.

  4. muhammed Kareem

    Many years ago – way back in 1977, I alongwith other fellow students form the Geology Department of Lumumba University spent two months in Dagestan. We lived in a small mountain village called Gergebil and conducted field work. It was there that I ran into my first book of poems by Gamzatov and immediately developed a strong liking for him.His words touched me by the depth of their emotions, their simplicity and the deep philosophical meaning that they conveyed.
    Later when we returned to Moscow, I tried getting all his books and was able to get most – if not all, of them. These books occupy the most prominent place on a bookshelf in my home in Bangladesh.
    I am very sorry to hear about his death. May Allah grant him a place in the heavens.
    Muhammed Kareem
    Texas, USA

  5. John Philpott

    I read “It’s time for me to Go” by Rasul Gamzatov
    at my Fathers funeral, in France.
    May they both rest in peace.

  6. Darshan Singh Bains

    I have been reading “Mera Daghistan” from my College days since 1965. I have read it time and again and found something new in it. Rasul Gamzatov was a powerful writer. No other writer matched his skills of minutely observing very small things. After about 45 years, I am still a fan of Rasul.

  7. Ravindranath

    Gamzatov poems impresed me so much that I have translated some of them into Telugu. I HAVE CHERISHED THEM FOR LAST SEVENTEEN YEARS.iam going to publish them soon along with pushkin’s poems. kudoa to people’s poet who attained immortal status in literature in genreral and in my life in particular.

  8. raj teeluck

    I came to know about Gamzatov, the great poet and writer, when I stayed in Russia for my studies. I even visited his village through the courtesy my friends from Dagestan who were as friendly and lovable as the poems of Rasul.

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