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New translations of poems by Mollanepes published in Turkmenistan
This spring was marked by the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Mollanepes, a genius of Turkmen literature, unsurpassed master of fine lyric poetry and ardent patriot of his country. The master's jubilee is a holiday of not only Turkmen but entire world literature, because the works by Mollanepes have become a striking example of inspirational poetry for all ages and peoples.

A new book that appeared in the Russian book market will help to prove it once again. The new collection of poems by Mollanepes translated into Russian presents another opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the immortal lyrical images born by the poet's genius. The appearance of this book is valuable in itself, as Mollanepes's poetry in the Russian language has not been republished for over three decades. But more important is the fact that the majority of poems in the collection are new, original translations done by the brilliant masters of Russian literature. The original illustrations drawn by Ashgabat artist Berdiguly Amansahatov, the renowned master of painting and set design, have become the decoration of the book.

The new edition of the golden pages of Turkmen literature in Russian will undoubtedly become a great symbol of the continuing process of mutual enrichment of cultures of our peoples, when the immortal lines by Makhtumkuli and Pushkin, Mollanepes and Lermontov, Azadi and Nekrasov, Andalib and Tyutchev enable us to understand each other better, and make people's souls purer and richer.

Today, Russian poets Lyudmila Schipahina, Valentin Sorokin and Ivan Golubnichiy, the authors of the new translations of poems by Mollanepes, share their impressions of an unforgettable touch to the poet's creative work.

From the distance of ages we welcome you, divine Mollanepes, the great and unreachable, son of the sun and desert!

The time has come for today's generation - the generation of the XXI century - to touch your immortal wisdom, your poetry and precepts.

The contemporary literary language of our time differently highlights the depth of your mighty spirit. It makes your wonderful poems more understandable, clearer and more useful. They graciously convert into modern poetry preserving the flavor and spirit of your remote age.

The holy and indissoluble connection of times is established from word to word and from heart to heart.

Let your name be eternal, great Mollanepes!

"The service of muses stands no vanity, the wonderful must be majestic..." - these immortal words by the great Russian poet, Alexander Pushkin, reflect as never before the time when we refer to the creative work of his contemporary, the great son of the Turkmen land, a man of genius - Mollanepes. It is impossible to start reading his poems in a hurry, in a daily bustle. One can approach his lines, like a pray in the temple, only with pure and enlightened soul. Every sound, every stanza, everything that has reached our days from the depths of centuries through oral retellings and in manuscript rolls are precious.

The test of the great measure of responsibility awaits the one, on whom befalls the honor to read the divine lines to make them a heritage of other languages. When we started to work on the new original translations of the recognized masterpieces of Mollanepes's poetic gift, we kept in mind the rich experience of our predecessors - Russian writers, who fell down to the spring of the unique poetry in early last century and 1950s. At that time, thanks to their efforts, Russian-speaking readers were able to introduce themselves to the literary monuments of Turkmenistan's poetic heritage for the first time.

Exploring the creative work of Mollanepes, the unsurpassed master of the lyric genre, in the new and rethought way would have been impossible if the continuous and painstaking research on the great heritage of the master was not done in his homeland. Contemporary and independent Turkmenistan, progressing in the era of Great Revival and reaching unprecedented heights in the economic growth and social welfare, does not forget its imperishable national cultural and spiritual traditions.

The poets have always enjoyed special esteem among Turkmen people. The people are still loyal to this tradition nowadays. There is such an unusual date as the Day of Makhtumkuli Poetry in the Turkmen calendar of national holidays. Perhaps, nowhere in the world there is another country, even with the great literary traditions, which has a day in the calendar worshipping poetry.

Anxious, reverential attitude to the poetic lines is a characteristic feature of Turkmen literary research. Owing to tireless work of the staff of the National Institute of Manuscripts, earlier unknown poems by Mollanepes were found in the manuscript funds of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tatarstan and Russia.

Moreover, the results of the studies allow us to state that the previous assumptions about the poet's years of life are not quite accurate. Mollanepes was believed to live from 1810 to 1862 and to die a year after his participation in the famous battle of Merv (1861). At that time, the Turkmens defeated the Kadjari troops three times bigger than the Turkmen ones, and the poet, mortally wounded, left the frail world.

However, the historic identification of the discovered manuscripts' texts enable us to state with great probability that the author of the immortal destan "Zohra and Tahir" lived 13 years longer than shown by official sources.

The findings of scholars have opened another facet of Mollanepes's talent. The poems of the late period touch upon the heroic and patriotic theme. In these works, the poet turns to the well-known historical figure, Garaoglan Khan, and his associates, whose names are written in the annals of the heroic struggle of the Turkmen people against foreign invaders.

Incidentally, it has turned out that the biographies of Mollanepes and Garaoglan Khan are identical. Both of them lived in the same period, both were born in Ahal region and lived the rest of their lives in Merv. And now, the assumption that the poet and his hero knew each other and were friends during their lifetime looks logical. And heroic feats of the defenders of the native land became a source of inspiration for Mollanepes in the heroic epic genre, expanded and enriched his creative palette.

No doubt, Mollanepes is one of those bright, genuinely talented people, who throughout the history of human culture become manifestations of the national spirit in its natural authenticity. The works created by him allow us to call the poet, along with Makhtumkuli, Seidi, Kemine and Zelili, the genuine voice of the Turkmen people, which is a demonstration of his rich spiritual life and high aspirations.

Mollanepes had a good command of the Turkmen, Chagatai (Turki), Persian and Arabic languages, was familiar with the works by famous oriental poets - Nizami, Ganjevi, Fizuli, Hafiz Shirazi, Navoi, Makhtumkuli, Azadi. Despite his religious education and teaching in the school, mekteb, in his works Mollanepes always felt himself a son of the people, and lived a life similar to theirs, which was full of little personal joys and big dreams about the greatness of the Turkmen people's spirit, which was expressed in the poetic reveries about the heroes of the past.

The love poetry of Mollanepes is a warm, sincere and defenseless confession of the heart in love, which, in its irresistible impulse, goes beyond the narrow scope of the personal to the unlimited sphere of the global spirit, and comprehends the highest meaning of love through sometimes vague but penetrating enlightenments. Mollanepes's mysterious muse, incomprehensible to the end, appears before the reader in all its elemental harmony, making sense only when it merges with the pure and loving human feeling.

Touching the poetic heritage of Mollanepes, one unwillingly becomes part of the charm of the great personality, who expressed the spirit of the Turkmen people in his poetic creations. The poetic structure of Turkmen poetry is capricious, and sometimes it is difficult to express the true meaning in the Russian literary equivalent. But the thoughts and feelings that Mollanepes's poems reflect will be understandable and accessible to everyone at all times. If a poet is brother to the other one, then the language is a friend to the other tongue.

Ludmila SCHIPAHINA, poet, Winner of M.A. Sholokhov International Prize in Literature, Honored Worker of Culture of Turkmenistan
Valentin SOROKIN, poet, Winner of S.A. Yesenin Prize in Literature, Co-Chairman of the Union of Writers of Russia
Ivan GOLUBNICHIY, poet, Secretary of the Board of the Union of Writers of Russia, Honored Worker of Culture of Russia

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