Shiraz was born Hovhaness Onnig Garabedian, on April 27, 1915, three days after the massacre of the Armenian intelligentsia during the Armenian Genocide. He spent his childhood during these tragic times in deplorable conditions in his native Alexandropol, (now Gyumri).

In 1935, he garnered attention with his first poetic work, Beginning of Spring, which sold out. Novelist Adrbed named the talented poet “Shiraz”, because “this youth’s poems have the fragrance of roses, fresh and covered with dew, like the roses of Shiraz.” (Shiraz was one of Iran’s major cities, famous for its roses and poets). After studying Literature at Yerevan’s State University, and later at Moscow’s Maxim Gorky Literature institute, Shiraz published the first of a three volume anthology Knar Hayastani (Lyre of Armenia) in 1958. It was followed by the second and third volumes, published in 1965 and 1974. These collections include the best of Shiraz’s poetry. Although hailed as one of the best poets of the 20th century, Shiraz is also known for his quartets, parables and translations.

Shiraz was married to famous poetess and academician Silva Gabudikyan. Their son, Ara Shiraz, was a sculptor. Shiraz had seven children with his second wife, Shushanik.

The poet died on March 14, 1984, and was buried at the Gomidas Pantheon, in Yerevan, Armenia, alongside other distinguished Armenians. A school in Yerevan, and a street in Julfa of Isfahan are named after him. Shiraz’s House-Museum is in Gyumri.

The poem My Mother (Մայրս), by prominent Armenian poet Hovhannes Shiraz, is a most fitting tribute to honor all mothers.

Gilda Buchakjian (Kupelian)
Director, Armenian Studies Department

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ՄԱՅՐՍ
ՅՈՎՀԱՆՆԷՍ ՇԻՐԱԶ

Մեր յոյսի դուռն է մայրս.
Մեր տան մատուռն է մայրս,
Մեր օրօրոցն է մայրս,
Մեր տան ամրոցն է մայրս,
Մեր հերն ու մերն է մայրս,
Մեր ճորտն է տէրն է մայրս,
Մեր տան անտունն է մայրս,
Մեր արծուաբոյնն է մայրս,
Մեր տան ծառան է մայրս,
Մեր տան արքան է մայրս,
Մեր տան անճարն է մայրս,
Մեր դեղ ու ճարն է մայրս,
Մեր տան աղբիւրն է մայրս,
Մեր ծարաւ քոյրն է մայրս,
Մեր տան անքունն է մայրս,
Մեր անուշ քունն է մայրս,
Մեր տան ճրագն է մայրս,
Մեր արեգակն է մայրս։
Մայրս, մեր հացն է մայրս,
Մեր տան աստուածն է մայրս…

MY MOTHER
by Hovhannes Shiraz

My mother—gate to our hopes,
She is the chapel of our homes,
She is our cradle, my mother,
The fort of our home, my mother,
My mother is both mother and father,
She is both slave and master,
She is the homeless of our home,
She is the nest of eagles, my mother,
She is the housemaid of our home,
And the sovereign of our house,
Although helpless, my mother,
And the parched, thirsty sister,
Sleepless guardian, my mother
And our sweet sleep and slumber.
She is the lit candle, ever bright,
My mother is the sun, font of light.

Translated by Tatul Sonentz