Azerbaijan International

Spring 1999 (7.1)
Pages 27-28

Brief Independence

Ahmad JavadLeft: Designing the monumental tribute to Mammad Amin Rasulzade, esteemed as the Founder of the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, (1918-1920). Sculptor is Omar Eldarov. Photo: Litvin.

On May 28, 1918, Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Russian Empire, naming itself the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic. This selfrule lasted 23 months during which Azerbaijan became the first secular state in the Orient with a European-like Parliament and a Cabinet of Ministers. The country adopted a national flag and anthem, established a state university and sent a delegation to Paris to meet with U.S. President Woodrow Wilson. At the time, the Caucasus region was very unstable.

Azerbaijan, in particular, was plagued by frequent conflicts with Armenia. Azerbaijan's self rule ended when Red Army troops entered Baku on April 28, 1920 and set up the Soviet government.

However, the symbols that were created during this period-the flag, as well as the national anthem were again dusted off and re-adopted when Azerbaijan gained its independence from the Soviet Union more than 70 years later in 1991.
Ahmad Javad

To the Azerbaijani Flag
(April 1919)

This poem is dedicated to our national flag, which I saw fluttering above the parliament house upon my first arrival in Baku after the British had come here on April 10, 1919.

Turkistan 1 winds are whispering
their troubles to you,
Kissing you on your forehead, my flag!
Let the Black Sea send your three colors
As a gift to its friends, my flag!

I met you on my way to Turan, 2
Your shadow ever falling over my head!
Let the tears watering my eyes
Tell everyone of their grief, my flag!

You got your colors from Gayi khan,
Moslem beys
4 have gotten older like Elkhan.
You, Elkhan's descendant, stronghold of religion,
You brought delight into my soul, my flag!

I stepped forward, fierce winds in my chest,
I want to kiss the holy place
where your shadow falls!
The star of heavens, that beautiful fairy,
Has taken shelter in the moon in your lap,
My flag!

1 Turkistan - referring to all of the Turkic nations.
2 Turan - the entire area of Turkic nations, from the Altay Mountains to the Black Sea.
3 Gayi khan and Elkhan - the names of legendary Oguz knights.
4 Bey - used here to mean the title given to noble men, members of gentry.
5 Beautiful fairy - referring to the flag's moon, which he says resembles a fairy.

Translated by Aynur Hajiyeva

Ahmad Javad (1892-1937), an important poet and public figure, was arrested by the Soviet regime in 1937 for alleged crimes against the Azerbaijani people. Like many other talented writers and poets, he was sentenced to death. After Stalin died (1953), Javad's name was cleared. Since Azerbaijan regained its independence in 1991, Javad's name has gradually been restored as one of Azerbaijan's most important poets. His poems are once again being published.

Azerbaijan International (7.1) Spring 1999.
© Azerbaijan International. All rights reserved.

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