Prayer on the Threshold of Tomorrow

Look. New sprouts push through the fields.
But which are thorns and which wheat
I do not know. Perhaps to the appetite
that is sated, all is chaff,
while to the hungry all is wheat.

Undistinguishable sounds, blows, footfalls,
thud in the distance, an agonizing attack,
where the oppressed plant red
flames with their blood.
And the rains sweat and expand
into floods that shake the walls
of the oldest dams.

Lord, now is the time to send
your wisdom and kindness
to the tortured who, although
they have forgotten, need you as they hurl
themselves closer to the precipice.

Oh, God, who trimmed the wick of the mind
and poured the oil of life, do not let
your lamps be overturned.
Let them illuminate paths to your truth.

Plant love in the eyes of today’s
And tomorrow’s mighty. Do not let
their hearts close.

And do not let the hearts of the child
and the aged be strangers
to tenderness and hope.

Let the struggle of our time be short.
Let it be settled with justice.

Let the fortress of egos,
that huge barricade,
crumble. And let every treasure
go to every man. Let every garden
gate be open. But let no flower be crushed.
No single branch fall.

— Vahan Tekeyan
(Trans. by Diana Der Hovanessian)

Armenian poet Vahan Tekeyan was in Jerusalem on business when he received news of the murder of 1.5 million Armenians under the Young Turk government. He lived in exile in Cairo until his death in 1945.