“ Every genius is nourished by his native land. Geniuses are those who can be received by other nations like their innate sons,” Writes famous Georgian poet, Vazha-Pshavela in his iconic essay, “Cosmopolitanism and Patriotism.” Little did he realize that he himself was the personification of all this: A genius, whose work accurately portrays the divinity of earthly energy that unites all life on earth, a child of mountainous region of Pshavi, who felt both the beauty of nature and the chaos humanity caused to it.
Sadly, due to the fact that southern Caucasian literature is relatively unknown, other nations barely have any chance to receive Vazha as their “native son.” My hope is that by collecting his work and analyzing it through these translations, Vazha-Pshavela can be as familiar to the world as he is in his homeland of The Republic of Georgia.

In the 1930’s, a famous philosopher and the founding father of phenomenology, Edmund Husserl, developed various theories that involved Humanizing the Animal and Animalizing the Human. In that study he claimed that an animal’s psyche is far more anthropomorphic than previously thought. Amazing, isn’t it? Vazha realized the same thoughts, but used literature instead of scientific experiments. He made allusions to a proud eagle or an antagonistic spade with his poems and stories. His writing contains many interesting and deep characters, despite the fact that some of them aren’t even homo sapiens.
The best example of this would be his famous poem, “The Eagle”:

The eagle

I saw an eagle, who was wounded,
He was at war with ravens and spades,
Injured, he struggled to get up,
But could not, he had no aid…

One wing on the ground he carries,
With blood on his chest,
Oh, watch out spades, be wary!
You had me at my worst,
If not, I would have seen your feathers,
Scattered all over the valley, first!

A lot of local literary critics believe that the main character, a wounded eagle, is a personification of Georgia, authors homeland itself, because of its rough history and geopolitical location, but according to some sources, Vazha has denied metaphorical aspect of the verse numerous times, claiming that he had seen this specific scene play out right before his eyes, while being out in the woods.
The story of an eagle does not end here, it continues in another poem, called “Futile War”:

Futile war
Spade and raven could not give each other rest,
On the eagle’s nest:
From head to mouth, one devoured the other,
On the stolen land of another,
From beak to beak,
To claws, breezing through,
Both had the desire,
Foreign land to acquire,
Those fools Think: The owner of this nest,
Up, in the mountains, has been laid to rest,
Little do they know of the eagle,
That is approaching, roaming the skies,
His land is calling,
While fire burns in his eyes!

Spade and raven are clearly portrayed as an evil force in this story: cowardly, violent and antagonistic, even towards each other. We also see our eagle, the main character, potentially getting the justice he deserves, or rather, the nature deserves, because everything going according to its plan is a major supporting theme in poet’s work.

As I have mentioned earlier, the role of a solitary philosopher isn’t the only part Vazha played as the member of progressive society in Georgia: he was also an avid political and social critic, publicist, known for his complex and honest ways of approaching the problem, who was especially vocal in his criticism of the Georgian Orthodox Church, which was strongly influenced by Russian imperialism and power, which he found very disgraceful and offensive, as he himself also identified as a Georgian orthodox.

Vazha was also interested in metaphysical evolution of Christianity and how the believers viewed Christ, as messiah.
Do we live up to gods’ expectations? Do we function morally as a society? Are we loyal to the legacy of Christ?
Those and many other theological questions form one of my favorite poems by him, called “Where is the Christ, or his teachings?”

Where is the Christ, or his teachings?

What kind of existence am I in? What has fallen upon me?
I have almost gone mad and became a beast,
On human flesh, I feast,
I drink human blood, like water,
With millions of gallons not being enough per day,
I am Worthy of being called humankind’s hunger,
I despise myself, for living that way,
Even so, I cannot change, being astray.
Oh, how was the Nazarene deceived,
When he thought that brotherhood and unity, he could achieve!
he acknowledged,
Such love, as he believed in it, himself,
In Christianity and its teachings, as well,
How do we get misled, where does it start?
Everything seems to be distantly apart,
as the revelation was late,
For these beliefs, he was crucified:
He has planted his wisdom, in a form of a tree, for it to reside,
Oh, how he suffered, how he tried,
So that men would not be pitted like wolfs, against one another,
Show me the fruit his sacrifice bore,
When and where have you tasted its core?
When will the time come,
For humans to call each other “brother”?!

Georgia, always war-torn and suffering, has bred many geniuses, with Vazha being one of the most distinguished ones, but because of little to no cultural/global integration, those geniuses are often forgotten in the lengthy mazes of time. My mission, as a young Georgian, is to keep our legacy alive, in any ways I can and even though this article is not perfect, I hope you know more about my country than you did yesterday.

Used literature:

Vazha-Pshavela, “Cosmopolitism and Patriotism”, translation by Rebecca Gould and Natalia Bukia-Peters.
Husserl (1973: 317): “Die humanisierte […] Welt, in der […] alles Weltliche humanen Sinn hat”.

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