Lezgi poet-ashug Suleiman Stalsky: biography and creativity

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Lezgi poet-ashug Suleiman Stalsky: biography and creativity
Lezgi poet-ashug Suleiman Stalsky: biography and creativity

Video: Lezgi poet-ashug Suleiman Stalsky: biography and creativity

Video: Lezgi poet-ashug Suleiman Stalsky: biography and creativity
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The biography of Suleiman Stalsky, especially childhood, is full of tragic events. It is amazing how a boy who grew up in the most difficult conditions managed to keep love for people in his heart. The biography of the folk Dagestan poet and founder of poetry in the Lezgi language shows how the kindness of the soul and sincerity help even the most modest person to gain recognition and touch the hearts of various people with his work. Stalsky's poetry is still the main literary reflection of the folk life of the Caucasian peoples at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. What kind of person was the poet Suleiman Stalsky?


Suleiman Gasanbekov was born on May 18, 1869 in the Dagestan village of Ashaga-Stal, his parents were Lezgins living in poverty. The birth of the future poet was unusual: having quarreled on the eve of the birth, Suleiman's father drove his pregnant wife out of the house, and the woman had to give birth in a barn. Barely alive after childbirth mother eventhey didn’t let her near the baby: the baby was fed by a neighbor, and the unfortunate woman had to leave home. Soon she died with some villagers who sheltered her, never having seen her son.

Apparently, the father's resentment against the boy's mother was very strong, as he continued to take it out on his son. From the age of four, Suleiman was loaded with housework, and when his father married a second time, he became something like a servant, an "errand boy".

Poet Suleiman Stalsky
Poet Suleiman Stalsky

At the age of eleven, Suleiman became an orphan. From the age of 13 he was forced to become a hired worker, worked as a laborer in Derbent, Samarkand, Ganja and Baku. The poet often recalled that all his youth had passed in his work, but one day he woke up and realized that he was already thirty years old. Soon Suleiman got married, his chosen one was the daughter of a ranger from the neighboring village of Orta-Stal.

First creativity

All this time, busy with work and organizing his life, Suleiman Gasanbekov did not even think about poetry. But one day a Lezgi ashug poet came to the village where he lived with his wife. Ashugs are a Caucasian version of a minstrel or troubadour, that is, itinerant singers accompanying themselves on some simple instruments and performing folk songs.

For Suleiman, ashug's performance was a real revelation: he suddenly realized that he himself could express his thoughts in this way. On the same evening, he composed his first poems in Azerbaijani, subsequently reciting them in both Dagestan and Lezgi. The novice poet had a poor command of writing, and therefore he collected composed poems and songs inmemory, retelling them to friends and neighbors.

Portrait of a poet
Portrait of a poet

The first real poem by Suleiman Stalsky is considered to be "The Nightingale", composed in 1900.

On an apple tree, in dense foliage, The permanent nightingale sings, How pure, how gentle your voice is, O inspiring nightingale!

Eat away from the world, Careless, happy now.

Ah, you don't care about us, Blessed nightingale!

You are ready to despise people

Ringing a hundred keys in the garden.

But, coward, you run from the cold.

Shame on you haughty nightingale!

Wait where are you going?

Don't be afraid!

Tell me about your life.

Maybe I had to go hungry?

Be a frank nightingale.

But this winter you are not dear, It was a winter day you were not strict.

You saved all your colors, My incomparable nightingale.

Here comes the hawk… Hide away

Into the thick shadow, into the forest night!

Can I help you

My daring nightingale?

You don't know the end of the call, You don't know how to calm down, You are like a gramophone, The beauty of the nightingale universe!

Forget frisky carelessness!

Find the nest! Stay with me!

And the sounds of Suleiman in the chest

Pour in, priceless nightingale!

Soon, the work of the beginning poet spread throughout Dagestan, poems were passed from mouth to mouth. At the same time, his pseudonym also came to Suleiman: not knowing the surname, peoplethey called him by his place of birth: first Ashaga-Stalsky, and then simply Stalsky.

Since 1909, the biography of Suleiman Stalsky mentions his competitions with famous ashugs, in which he never lost his face.

Soviet period

After the revolution, the talented Dagestan poet, who glorifies freedom and ridicules slavery and the rich, received serious attention. All the joy of the common people about the change of power was expressed in the simple and sincere verses of Suleiman Stalsky. The speech at the All-Union Animal Breeding Congress was important for the poet: Joseph Stalin himself listened to his poems from the presidium. Translations of poems from the Lezgi language into Russian began to appear in various newspapers, most often in Pravda and Izvestiya.

Already in 1927, the "Collection of Lezgi poets" was printed in Moscow. It includes poems by Suleiman Stalsky. His work was highly appreciated by Russian-speaking poets of that time for genuine sincerity and Caucasian ability to play with words.

In 1934, Suleiman Stalsky was elected from Dagestan as a delegate to the first All-Union Congress of Writers. Maxim Gorky, who highly appreciated Stalsky's work, called him "Homer of the 20th century". Gorky and Stalsky in the photo below.

Maxim Gorky and Suleiman Stalsky
Maxim Gorky and Suleiman Stalsky

Recognition and awards

From 1917 to 1936, the poetic biography of Suleiman Stalsky includes many poems and poems dedicated to Stalin, Ordzhonikidze, Dagestan, the Red Army, life in the USSR, the Bolsheviks. Since in thiswhile Stalsky kept all his works exclusively in memory, the well-known Lezgi linguist Gadzhibek Gadzhibekov took up recording his poems. For several hours, and sometimes for several days, Gadzhibekov wrote down poems that Suleiman Stalsky dictated to him, who knew how to keep in his head thousands of lines composed at different times. In 1936, in his article on Stalsky, Gadzhibekov spoke out against calling Suleiman an ashug. Suleiman Stalsky himself also protested against the title of ashug, calling himself an independent poet and author.

In 1934 Stalsky was declared People's Poet of Dagestan, and in 1936 the poet was awarded the Order of Lenin.

Postage stamp dedicated to Stalsky
Postage stamp dedicated to Stalsky


Suleiman Stalsky died on November 23, 1937 in Makhachkala (Dagestan). In memory of the people's poet, in the year of his death, the Dagestan village of Samurkent was renamed Stalskoe, the name has been preserved to this day. in 1969, the Kasumentsky district of Dagestan was renamed the Suleiman-Stalsky district - this event was timed to coincide with the centenary of the birth of the poet, in the same year a commemorative stamp with a portrait of Stalsky was issued. In addition, streets in Dagestan, Rostov-on-Don, Omsk, Novorossiysk are named after the poet, the Republican Prize in the field of literature and the State Lezgin Musical Theater are Stalsky. A memorial bust of Stalsky was erected in Makhachkala.

Monument to Stalsky
Monument to Stalsky

This is how a song is born

In 1957, a feature film was shot by the Baku film studio,screening the biography of Suleiman Stalsky, called "So the song is born." The movie was filmed in Azerbaijani, directed by Mikayil Mikayilov and Rza Tahmasib. The plot was based on lifetime stories and memories of Suleiman himself, stories of his family and friends, as well as "Parables about Stalsky" - small Dagestan instructive and funny stories, the main character of which was the poet. Such parables became part of the Dagestani folklore from the 1930s until the war. The role of Suleiman Stalsky was played by actor Konstantin Slanov. A frame from the film in the photo below.

Shot from the film "So the song is born"
Shot from the film "So the song is born"

It is noteworthy that the film was released in color, although it was a rarity for the Azerbaijani cinema of that time.