The Ideal of “New Youth“ according to David Guramishvili’s Davitiani

 

Self-discoveryis the most essential human obligation. As early as the period of classical antiquity, young learnerswere warned that self-knowledgewas the basic precondition for learning anything, to begin with. According to Socrates, self-awareness is a way for the soul to become better and discover its own divinespark which has been preserved in the philosophy of Plato: and someone who looked at that and grasped everything divine—God and understanding—would have the best grasp of himself as well[Plato, 2013:240].The same is themost fundamental appeal of the Christian faith – “thenew law of nature”. It can be achieved throughrepentance,understanding the universe, and introspection.The literary works by David Guramishvili comprise poetic specimens created through self-discovery.The poet has identified self-awareness as a main way of solving the mysteries of the universe. “In Davitiani “Know thyself” is achievedby means of “Christian Socratism”[Siradze, 1980:127].From a religious perspective, self-discovery is a precondition for “becoming the son of God”. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect [Matthew 5:48], proclaims the Lord. To become complete, the author, first of all, perceives his own personal, national or common human selfthrough poetic means, therefore, he represents himself as a main character of the literary work.Professor R. Siradze indicates that unlike Freud’s ego ideal (“the infantile narcissism”),the poet’s lyrical self is more“conscious”; It is “reflected through an entire foundational belief system, both personal and social”[Siradze, 1980:127]. 

David Guramishvili, who reflects on human purpose, identifies four stages of self-awareness:

/ “A young man should pursue learning to perceive himself: / [to realize] who he is, where he has come from,where he exists,andwhere he is going to depart for?” /[Guramishvili I, 2013:19]These are the four questions, along with the search for their answers, that enable a human being to observe himself. Life in this worldis what leads a manto the soul’s eternal destination. A human being returns to his source, the God, therefore, striving towards the past.Saint Augustine notes in TheConfessions: “from where, and on what path, and to what place does it pass, as it is measured? From where, except from the future? By what path, except by the present? To what place, except into the past?[Saint Augustine, 2010:118]. According to him, time may be simply “nothing but extension …of the mind itself”[Saint Augustine, 2010:123],the mind thatgravitates towards the source.Passing the way that leads to the God as the sourceincorporates the ability to contemplate and be restored spiritually through divine love.This journey is defined within time and space encompassing four stages of human life in this world such as birth, growing up, aging and death.

Davitiani presentsthe ways of spiritual growth of the lyrical persona whofollows the path leading to the Lord.Experienced to a large extent, the author dedicates his book to young readers, the youth who have embarked on ajourney of self-discovery. Therefore, the language of narration is rather intelligible.The poet employs the principle ofallegorical narration which represents a widespread literary form in the medieval literature. David Guramishviliperceives time from the Christian perspective. The elderly and eminent poet never forgets his path of life and by analyzing it tries to reflect onthe ways that will allow him to draw closer to God.“Davitiani does not reflect poet’sinner evolution from a chronological perspective, rather,it depictsan entire confession of a man who cultivated spiritual depth to acertain extent.It provides the analysis of the entire life-span of the individual”[Grigolashvili, 1979:78]. Clearly, the lyrical persona is depicted as an experiencedelderly man peacefullygazing at readers: / “It made me fade away affected by blighting, and let me be full of years heirless”/ [Guramishvili, I, 2013:137]; / “with distress, it made my days shorter and used up, not much was left, / anything pleasurable that I had drunk, turned bitter” / [Guramishvili, I, 2013:138],–claims David Guramishvili with regret.In the song Zubovka, a beautiful woman rejects the love of the poet due to his age and appearance:“I have a lover. I don’t want you. Yet you continue to stay. My husband’s handsomer than you and better in every way”[Guramishvili, I, 2013:190]. Thewomen in love with a younger man rejects the elderly man enamored of her. The poem entitled“Dispute, Counsel, and Resentment between Man and this Earthly World” depicts a dialogue between this earthly worldand a man. This is how the polemist argues with the man (who is the author’s lyrical persona):/“How comes it that the sixty-nine-year-old you refer to me as a transient and momentary worldthat has spanned over seven thousand two hundred and eighty-two years?”[Guramishvili, II, 2013:25]. Hence, the age of author’s lyrical persona is sixty-nine.The testamentary poems,epitaph lyrics, testaments and otherverses of similar content echo the outcry of the soul of the poet who is approaching death. Thus, the author of Davitiani is an elderly manwith a certain degree of spiritual experience.

The poet shares his experience with generations to come, warning, advising and instructing themby referring to his own “mistakes’:“now be careful”;  “…unlike me, do not waste your time”, “…so that not to perish” [Guramishvili, II, 2013:9].From this perspective, David Guramishvili appears in the role of a teacher and didactician of his readers. The poet is recalling his past lifewith regret andeducates the youth who,if follow the path of their ancestors, will create a better future, otherwise they arelikely toface failuresdue to the lack of experience. “Whatever youth find easy is a challenge for the elderly”[Guramishvili, II, 2013:9].An experienced one has the ability to differentiate between good and evil and hence he warns the young from error.His instruction which is didactic in tone stems from a venerable old age.“Davitiani featuresthe basis and motivation as a right todidacticism.This is the experience-based knowledge anddistancing oneself from a range of problems to some extent” [Karichashvili, 2009].The poet who has lived much of his lifeaddresses and shares his wisdomwith future generations, trying to pave their way offering them his experience:

/ “educate yourselves, behave likebalance masters / to prevent disruption and burns!”/ [Guramishvili, II, 2013:192].

Author’s didactic speech is also demonstrated in A Cheerful Summer. The words of the poem’s older characterare reiterated by author’s lyrical persona who attends to the purityof a young couple, giving them his suggestions.In another part of the text, the poet straightforwardly declares that he is striving to distinguish between good and evil so that /“othersact with great caution to avoid tears” /[Guramishvili, I, 2013:46].Certain spiritual experience allows the author to share it with his descendants, “paving the way to those concerned about striving towards self-discovery”[Ghaghanidze, 2002].In the 19th century, there were others who followedDavid Guramishvili’s path.Unbridled desire of the rider of Nikoloz Baratashvili’s Merani to go far beyond the bounds of fateserves as a way for generations to come to follow life’s thorny paths.The only comfort that encourages him in such a desperate struggle is that his spiritual descendantswill more easily go through this beaten path (Merani).In essence, the poet’s desireresonates with the ideas of David Guramishvili. Vazha-Pshavela’sSong dedicated to young poets urges them to maintainresilience and spiritual strength. Through self-awareness, the poet’s lyrical persona gains an insight into his own sins and virtues, further expressing his ideas by sharing his experience.Primarily, the ability to understand the inner world of the predecessor author in a profound way allows his literary heirs to manifest themselves.It is noteworthy that reading the text of Davitiani requires readiness to embrace it.As a literary criticGérard Genette noted, literature is like a mirror that reflects reader’s lineaments. According to him, the history of literature is, in fact,the “history of methods of reading”[Genette, 2010].

David Guramishvili,willing to acquire his spiritual descendantsor those who will remember him, prefers addressing young readers,dedicating his Davitianito them.

/ “Therefore, I did not hedge the tree of parables with thorns, the one I had planted in the field, / theyouths will more easily climb into the tree to shake it. / To drink, I have given them hot sugared water not to be poured out. / I have entrusted this book to the youths,not to tear it up” /[Guramishvili, I, 2013:4].

The youthfirst of all suggestsyoung age.As Sulkhan-Saba Orbaliani explains the term, a baby is a human being in the first five years of his or her life; a young person of fifteen to twenty years of age is called “ყრმა”, youth, while the age between twenty to thirty is known asჭაბუკობაa period of youth, adolescence; a person of thirty to fifty years of age is called სრულიკაცი, being of full age. The rest of the person’s later life is referred to as old age, being decrepit;period of being fit (in old years) and that ofhoariness, well advanced in years[Orbeliani, I, 1991:360]. Thus, in one respect, the youthis the state of being of a certain age (fifteen to twenty), therefore,such young personsare likely to be chosen as readers byDavid Guramishvili.

From the Christian perspective, the youthhas two connotations, referring to both young age and a certain state of being in terms of spirituality. It envisages both anadolescentand a person of genuine spirit. The youth has another meaning that refers to an honest, sincere person.Since Davitiani falls within the paradigm of the Bible, and specificallythe Psalter[Siradze, 1992:159], poet’s “lyrical thought is Psalm-like” [Siradze, 1992:160], such understanding of the youthhas its roots in the Scriptures.From the mouths of children and infants You have ordained praise” [Ps. 8:2]. These were the words referenced by Jesusas he triumphantly entered Jerusalem through the road laid with branches of box-tree and palm tree[Matthew 21:16]. The youngest, the humblest of all welcomed the Savioron his way to the city; they took offand laid down their clothes in front of the Savior mounted on a donkey.As Jesus said, the kingdom of God belongs to such as these [little children]. According to the teachings of Peter the Apostle, those who become Christian should reject each of their evil intentions and delve into the milk of the word, like new-born babies. Basil of Caesarea in his commentary on Psalm114 indicates thatthe youth andinfancyrefer to both young age andbringing oneself “down to the humility of children” [Basil of Caesarea, 2002:202].

Depicting Christ Child“with a more mature face showing wisdom beyond His years” [Parulava A, 2005:36]has been a widespread tradition in Georgian and Greek iconography, symbolizingthe burden of his further ordeal manifested on the face of the Christ Child.Besides, the latter urged the believers to embrace the grace of God with a heart of a child.In Georgian hagiography, it is not uncommon to find many instances where youthdenotes spiritual genuineness, whileold age referring to the age-related state (and vice versa). Giorgi Merchule describes young Saint Grigol as distinguished by “maturity of his mind”.When mentioning George the Hagiorite, the hagiographer puts emphasis on the monk’s youth “enriched by maturity of old age” and “adorned with sunset years”.

The thought model of David Guramishvili (allegorical text)integrates in itself a twofold nature of ideas.First of all, possibly,the poet dedicates his poetry to the young(as mentioned above, old and experienced author enlightens his young readers by means of didactic lessons). At the same time, he is willing to win a reputation for himself for generations to come:/ “I have prepared sweet new wine to the young to remember me” /[Guramishvili, I, 2013:4],–notes the author.Good readers willbe his spiritual descendants who will create a better future for themselves carefully and delicately. The poet regards them as those who will remember him and pray for him:

/ “…if I fail to gather and dedicate violet and rose bouquets to the young, / After I die, who will remember me -living but forgotten by everyone?!“ / [Guramishvili, I, 2013:11].

For Davitiani’s author, theintegration of poetic word with the Word of God, Logos, and expression of gratitude toward Christ’sself-sacrificeare of primary importance.He urges the readers to act the same way for which they will need to have hearts that are rejuvenated with divine love:

/ “The story of David has been recounted by me, David Guramishvili, / As a fruit of my work, I enlighten readers with the Word of God that brings comfort,like young sprouts; / Spring of life is a timeless spring of eternity, / You will shed tears for the one who suffered on the cross for immortality of our souls”/ [Guramishvili, I, 2013:4].

The author of Davitiani believes that poetry is supposed to “articulate”the Lord[Parulava, 2005]. Guramishvili as a Christian thinkercontinues: /“I would not dare to speak tothoseaged and experienced, I would rather address new youth” /[Guramishvili, I, 2013:21]. A “new youth”is a human being that belongs to the New Testament, whose heart has become pure through the divine light and whose soul has been renewedthrough righteousness. In the famous fiftieth Psalm, the Holy King David foretold the ideal of a “new man”: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me” [Ps. 50:10]. Renewal means spiritual rejuvenation, the idea that is manifested by famous phrase from the Psalms: your youth is renewed like the eagle’s”[Ps. 102:5].Theideal of a “new man” has beenfrequently reflected in Georgian literature: “new Nino” (Praise and Exaltationof the Georgian Language), “new Paul” Abiatar (The Conversion of Kartli) and so on.

The archetype of a “new man” is Christ Himself.This is what is manifested in the famous lines of the hymn by King Demetrius I of Georgia, where the hymnographer refers to the Mother of Godas a “newly blossomed” vineyard. “New” and “Old” God is the same God, however, Godthe Father and God the Son specifically represent their old and new nature, respectively[Tsereteli, 2005]. “New” as a symbolic image of Jesus Christ is also understood by David Guramishvili.

/“before the old sunny day and night regenerated,/ chaffywheathad been thrownon a threshing floor /

a new day has cleansed [wheat] mixed with rye-grass and chaff, / since then the difference between gain and harm has becomevisible. / no one is capable of rebuilding the ruins,

References

New TestamentM.
2003
Patriarchate of Georgia Publishing; Tbilisi.
Basil of Caesarea
2002
Writings; Patriarchate of Georgia Publishing; Tbilisi.
Grigolashvili L.
1979
The World of Fiction in Davitiani; Georgian Language and Literature in School;
Guramishvili D.
2013
Davitiani, Two volumes, Palitra L Publishing, Tbilisi.
Dante Alighieri
2012
The Divine Comedy;Palitra L Publishing, Tbilisi.
Theory of Literature
2010
ChrestomathyI, Institute of Literature Press; Tbilisi.
Mann T.
1986
Lotte in Weimar, Publishing House “Sabchota Sakartvelo”; Tbilisi.
Orbeliani S. S.
1991
Georgian DictionaryI, Merani Publishing House;Tbilisi.
Plato
2013
Alcibiades I; Early Dialogues; Book I, Bakur Sulakauri Publishing;Tbilisi.
Siradze R.
1980
Another Poetic Self of David Guramishvili;”Articles“; Soviet Georgia Publishing“; Tbilisi.
Siradze R.
1992
Davitiani and the Bible; “Christian Culture and Georgian Literature I; I; Tbilisi State University Press; Tbilisi.
Tabidze G.
1988
A Two-Volume Collection of Works; Vol. I; Poetry;Publishing House “Sabchota Sakartvelo”; Tbilisi.
Parulava Gr.
2005
On Christological Worldview of Akaki Tsereteli; Akaki; Collection II; TSU;Tbilisi.
Parulava Gr.
2002
A Man in the Image of God; Literary Magazine Saguramo, #3.
Fitzgerald F. S.
2015
The Great Gatsby; Palitra L Publishing, Tbilisi.
Psalms
2000
Patriarchate of Georgia Publishing; Tbilisi.
Khintibidze E.
2004
Remembering Rustaveli as a Child; Galaktioni and Rustaveli; GalaktionologyIII; Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature; Tbilisi.
Gérard Genette
2010
Literary Utopia; Translated by Malkhaz Kharbedia; “Literature – Hot Chocolate” http://arilimag.ge/%E1%83%9F%E1%83%94%C2%AD%E1%83%A0%E1%83%90%E1%83%A0-%E1%83%9F%E1%83%94%C2%AD%E1%83%9C%E1%83%94%C2%AD%E1%83%A2%E1%83%98-%E1%83%9A%E1%83%98%C2%AD%E1%83%A2%E1%83%94%C2%AD%E1%83%A0%E1%83%90%C2%AD/
Karichashvili L.
2009
Issues on Typological Relationship betweenThe Knight in the Panther’s Skin and Davitiani;Contemporary Issues in Literature Studies (II International Symposium, (Part I); The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia; Tbilisi http://www.nplg.gov.ge/gsdl/cgi-bin/library.exe?e=d-00000-00---off-0civil2-civil2-01-1--0-10-0--0-0---0prompt-10--.%2e-4----4---0-0l--11-en-00---10-ru-50--00-3-help-00-0-00-11-1-0utfZz-8-00-0-11-1-1utfZz-8-00&a=d&c=civil2&cl=CL2.13&d=HASHfe019df1b0e15b319b1ff0.27#HASHfe019df1b0e15b319b1ff0.27
Kiknadze Z.
2009
The Epic of Gilgamesh;Literature; Conversations about Literature and Art; Civil Education Department http://www.nplg.gov.ge/gsdl/cgi-bin/library.exe?e=d-00000-00---off-0civil2-civil2-01-1--0-10-0--0-0---0prompt-10--.%2e-4----4---0-1l--11-en-00---10-help-50--00-3-1-00-0-00-11-1-1utfZz-8-00-0-11-1-0utfZz-8-00&a=d&c=civil2&cl=CL2.5&d=HASH01fad321d98bef28a4f3861e.2#HASH01fad321d98bef28a4f3861e.2
Parulava Gr.
2005
On David Guramishvili’s Worldview; David Guramishvili– 300“; Proceedings of the Shota Rustaveli Institute of Georgian Literature http://www.nplg.gov.ge/gsdl//cgi-bin/library.exe?e=d-00000-00---off-0civil2--00-1----0-10-0---0---0prompt-10---4-------0-1l--10-ka-50---20-about---00-3-1-00-0-0-01-1-0utfZz-8-10&a=d&c=civil2&cl=CL2.6&d=HASH01ed6c39090ae26b3841f24a.3.8
Ghaghanidze M.
2002
Reality and Imagination inA Cheerful Summerby David Guramishvili; Tbilisi. http://www.nplg.gov.ge/gsdl/cgi-bin/library.exe?e=d-00000-00---off-0civil2--00-1----0-10-0---0---0prompt-10---4-------0-1l--10-ka-50---20-about---00-3-1-00-0-0-01-1-0utfZz-8-10&a=d&c=civil2&cl=CL2.20&d=HASHeb1227f221528c55bb6812
Tsereteli L.
2005
“Old Days” (mama-dzeoba)in The Life of David the Builder and Davitiani; David Guramishvili – 300“; Proceedings of the Shota RustaveliInstitute of Georgian Literature http://www.nplg.gov.ge/gsdl//cgi-bin/library.exe?e=d-00000-00---off-0civil2--00-1----0-10-0---0---0prompt-10---4-------0-1l--10-ka-50---20-about---00-3-1-00-0-0-01-1-0utfZz-8-10&a=d&c=civil2&cl=CL2.6&d=HASH01ed6c39090ae26b3841f24a.4.3