As the first month of spring slowly comes to an end, on Thursday 27th April, 18.45 at Asia House Donald Rayfield remembers Georgian poet Nikoloz Baratashvili  (1817-1845). On the occasion of his 200th birth anniversary, Donald Rayfield Emeritus Professor of Russian and Georgian at Queen Mary University of London will give a talk, A Poet Is Born: Nikolaz Baratashvili. For further information and tickets go to the Asia House website.

“I found shelter in a temple that stood in the desert,

Lit by an icon lamp that would never fade.

I heard heaven’s seraphim sing a descant

To David’s harp that the angels played.

A pilgrim in this world, perturbed and weary,

I then resolved to stay there and find rest.

The icon lamp’s celestial radiance cheered me,

By fickle fortune and by human spite depressed.

I offered up pure love, for want of incense,

And consecrated it deep in my heart and soul.

I was so full of sweet and blissful innocence,

I thought I saw a heavenly realm made whole.

The vanishing of joys was ever quicker:

The temple disappeared; the desert ceased to speak.

Now in my heart bliss did not even flicker,

My prospects were instead grim, desolate and bleak.

The temple’s every trace had instantaneously vanished:

Had it fallen victim to time’s malicious eye?

No! The temple loathed a world, treacherous, lying, tarnished.

All I had left was the lamp’s extinguished fire.

Love had failed to restore to me a trace of the temple.

Nowhere could I relight the icon lamp forlorn.

Consolation’s door, slammed in my face by devils,

Left me a roaming pilgrim and a homeless orphan.”

 Nikoloz Baratashvili (1843), translated by Donald Rayfield

Latest News

Talk and Book Launch of 'Unveiling Vazha Pshavela' on 1 March 2019 @ Asia House

On 1 March 2018 Asia House, the BGS and the Embassy of Georgia to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will host a an evening of events inspired by the late 19th and early 20th century century Georgian poet Vazha Pshavela. This will a book launch of 'Unveiling Vazha Pshavela', poetry readings, talks and Georgian polyphonic singing. 'Unveiling Vazha Pshavela' is the most comprehensive book to date of the poet's works in English. The publication is initiated by Georgian/British artist Andro Semeiko as part of his project investigating notions of self and motherland - through landscape, ethnography, and language of Vazha Pshavela. The poems in the book have been selected to illustrate the poet's powerful, tragic, often Shakespearean force, as well as the development of his ideas and approach to nature, very relevant to ecological politics in the world today. They have been translated by Donald Rayfield OBE. The book includes specially commissioned works by the contemporary Georgian writer Ana Kordzaia-Samadashvili.

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Forthcoming Events

Embassy Screenings