Abai Kunanbaev (1845 – 1904)

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Kazakh writer, poet, lyricist, social philosopher. Born in Kazakhstan in Semey province, Abai Kunanbaev was educated at home and then sent to a medressa where he learned Arabic and Persian and became acquainted with Eastern literature and poetry. In Semey he actively participated in the city's intellectual life, studied Russian and Western classics by Pushkin, Goethe, and Byron and translated many of them for the first time into Kazakh.

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         1845 – 1904


Abai Kunanbaev


Kazakh writer, poet, lyricist, social philosopher.  Born in Kazakhstan in Semey province,  Abai Kunanbaev was educated at home and  then sent to a medressa where he learned Arabic and Persian and became acquainted with Eastern literature and poetry. In Semey he actively participated in the city's intellectual life, studied Russian and Western classics by Pushkin, Goethe, and Byron and translated many of them for the first time into Kazakh.







Abai devoted many of his works to  the violence of Kazakh labour rights e.g."Oh my Kazakh! My poor people!". Number of works were devoted to youth: "Our children", "Only youth - happy flower of life". And a real treasure is his poems expressing his feelings and love to the nature of his land: "Autumn", "Winter“, “Fall” and etc.



As a gifted interpreter Abai gave Kazakh  people to enjoy the pearls of russian classic literature. During 15 years he translated more than 50 works of russian writers like Pushkin, Lermontov, Krylov etc. Abai's literary legacy also includes a number of ballads dedicated to eastern and western themes. Among these fictional pieces like "Mas'ud" (1887) and "Alexander,"


Violence – насилие, treasure – сокровище, pearl – жемчужина,

legacy - грамотность





Book of Words


Kunanbaev's works were influenced by his  belief in human reason. He was attracted  to Western Enlightenment thinking and wove criticism of Kazakh culture into his works, most notably in his collection of poems called Qarasozder (often translated as the Book of Words).

Despite the fact that many years have  passed, several generations have changed since Abai times, “Book of Words” is actual today as never before, it is our reference point in life. This book includes different topics – Kazakhstan history, love for fatherland, culture, people's psychology and philosophy of life.


Enlightenment – просвещение, образование,  generation - поколение





In his amazing Book of Words the  poet expressed his reflections over a  period of years, his searching and discoveries, anxiety and despair, sorrows and joy of revelations, anger and humility. His Book of Words is a deeply meaningful way to truth. The poet tirelessly reminds that humans have the greatest value in the world, and that they should be beautiful and harmoniously perfect. Their souls should also be beautiful, as should their mind, body and feelings. Understanding of the real world and the personal responsibility of everyone in the world – this is what the great poet worked for his art and life. Abai explains that the world is eternal, united and harmonious. Discord, anguish, even death cannot destroy the harmony, for they are natural.















Anxiety-беспокойство, тревога, revelation – откровение, humility – скромность

Eternal – бесконечный, discord – разногласие,





While you are seeking happiness,  everybody wishes you well; 

But once you have attained  it, your only well-wisher is yourself



Пока ты добиваешься счастья, добра тебе желают все, но как только ты достигаешь цели, твой доброжелатель — лишь ты сам.




Who among us have not known  trouble? Only the weak lose hope. 

Nothing in this world is  immutable, and misfortune cannot last for  ever.

 Does not the bountiful and blossoming spring follow the harsh winter?


Кому из нас не приходилось бывать в беде? Теряет надежду только слабый. Верно, что в мире нет ничего неизменного, но ведь и зло не вечно. Разве после суровой зимы, не приходит полноводная цветущая весна?


Word thirty-eight


Слово Тридцать Седьмое





If you wish to be counted  among the intelligent, then ask yourself  once a day, 

once a week, or at least  once a month: “How do I live?” Have I done anything

to improve my learning, my  worldly life or my life hereafter? Will  I have 

to swallow the bitter dregs  of regret later on?


Желаешь быть в числе умных людей, спрашивай себя раз в день, раз в неделю, или хотя бы раз в месяц: как ты живешь? Сделал ли ты что-нибудь полезное для своего образования, для земной или потусторонней жизни, не придется ли тебе потом испить горечь сожаления? Или же ты и сам не заметил, не помнишь, как и чем жил?                                                            



Word Fifteen


Слово Пятнадцатое





Word Nineteen


Слово Девятнадцатое


A child is not born a  reasonable being. It is only by listening  and watching, examining everything by touching  and tasting, that it learns what is  good and what is bad. The more a  child sees and hears, the more it  knows.


Дитя человеческое не рождается на свет разумным. Только слушая, созерцая, пробуя все на ощупь и на вкус, оно начинает познавать разницу между хорошим и плохим. Чем больше видит и слышит дитя, тем больше узнает.





Word Four


Слово Четвертое


Только слабые духом могут затвориться в себе, предаваясь горьким раздумьям, не находя утешения.


Only the weak in spirit will  withdraw into themselves abandon themselves  to bitter thoughts, without finding the  least consolation


Word Thirty three


If you want to be rich,  learn a trade. Wealth diminishes with  time,

but a skill does not.


Слово Тридцать Третье


Хочешь быть богатым — учись ремеслу. Богатство со временем иссякает, а умение — нет.





The great poet of the steppe, not  understood by his own people, remained  alone, face to face with God. All  his powers were dedicated to the enlightenment  of his people, but the people only  appreciated the enchanting melodies of his  songs, and did not comprehend the deep  essence of his thoughts, did not follow  his wise advice.


That was the beginning and the end  of the tragedy of Abai. He is buried  near his wintering in Zhidebai valley,  not far from Chingiz mountains. 





He is beautiful and great  in his eternal yearning for the truth



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