NUR-SULTAN – Syrbay Maulenov, one of the few Kazakh poets and writers, whose life was devastated by the Second World War, was born 100 years ago on September 17. His works stemmed from his love for his homeland and embraced a wide range of subject matter from stark depictions of war to tender praises of the landscapes and nature of the homeland.
Born in the small town of Torgai in the northern region of Kazakhstan, Maulenov spent most of his childhood and adolescence in the city of Kyzylorda in southern Kazakhstan, where his family moved and where, in 1938 , he enrolled in the faculty of language and literature of the Kyzylorda. Pedagogical institute.
His studies at the institute were interrupted by the war in 1940, so when the call came, Maulenov was drafted into the Red Army of the Soviet Union.
Readers can always turn to Maulenov’s World War II poems for authentic images of suffering humanity. The terrible experiences of war and death on the Volkhov front found vivid expression in his following poetry:
In the fight for the forest,
A man was shot by the enemy.
Embracing his brave son,
The earth hugged him.
The forest surrounds it
Rain and thunderstorms
Preserve his grave. (free translation by the author)
In an interview with the Zakon News Agency, his son, Kassym Maulenov, shared a unique story of the father’s interaction with Soviet poet and prose writer Nikolay Tikhonov even before they met.
“I managed to find a letter in my father’s archives from the classic of Soviet literature Nikolay Tikhonov dated October 22, 1942, which was the response to my father’s letter. He said: “I am delighted that a young Kazakh poet is defending our beloved Leningrad with a gun in his hand. It will be time, and we will meet you in the city liberated from the siege, we will read your poems and talk about the great war of the Soviet people with the Nazis, as in the past,” the letter read.
In 1943, Maulenov was seriously injured in the left arm when breaking the blockade of Leningrad in the direction of the Volkhov front. Consequently, his arm became immobile.
“My father was a true internationalist united by his strong brotherly friendship with many eminent poets and writers,” Kassym Maulenov said, naming many well-known personalities including Sergei Narovchatov (Soviet poet), Vadim Kozhevnikov (Soviet writer), Yevgeny Yevtushenko (Soviet, Russian poet), Mustay Karim (Bashkir poet), Chingiz Aitmatov (Kyrgyz writer), Platon Voronko (Ukrainian poet), Mukhtar Auezov (Kazakh writer), Abdilda Tazhibaev (Kazakh poet) and Muzafar Alimbayev (Kazakh poet).
Maulenov’s first collection of poems reflecting his wartime days was published in 1948.
His poems about homeland, nature and life were equally beautiful and captivating. His poem “A Changed Land” illustrates the change of seasons and involuntarily guides the reader through the comfort of observing the change from warm July to cold autumn and freezing winter, as if recalling that the change itself is immutable.
Dry July wind,
The dampness of autumn passing through your ribs,
It won’t allow you to straighten up.
Lined up like cranes,
Many summers and autumns have passed.
A new map is drawn,
The young forest keeps the soul… (free translation by the author)
In total, Maulenov wrote more than 50 collections of poetry and prose. His words became part of the golden fund of Kazakh literature.
“My childhood memory is marked by my father’s painstaking work on poems,” recalls Kassym Maulenov.
Along with poetry, Maulenov mastered various genres of journalism, from publicist and essayist to critic, satirist and editor. He actively participated in the periodical press and wrote numerous articles and essays.
“He often stayed up late at night in the dining room. On the weekends, we had typists at home, to whom my father would dictate his inspirational lines,” he said.
Maulenov worked as editor of Zhuldyz (Star) magazine in the 1960s and Qazaq Adebiyeti (Kazakh Literature) newspaper in the late 1950s and 1970s.
He was also actively involved in translation activities. He introduced the Kazakh reader to the works of Mikhail Lermontov, Alexander Pushkin, Sergei Esenin, Nikolay Nekrasov, Lord Byron, Shakespeare and many other famous classics of world literature.
In 1990, Maulenov was awarded the People’s Writer Prize of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.
Maulenov died in 1993 at the age of 70. Streets in four cities in Kazakhstan are named after him, as well as a school in his hometown.