Here is a tale of savage retribution, of torture and hostage-taking between the feuding Kazakhs and Turkmen, of crude chieftainly 'honour' and vengeance. The single redemptive theme is that of music - specifically the lute - in the hands of a young Turkman heir to the chieftaincy, Daulet, who strives to end the vendetta by the beauty of his art. The consequences of Daulet's endeavour and sublime gift are gruesome. Yet in the end this is a story with a powerful moral.
Composed originally by Abish Kekilbayev in his native Kazakh, it was rendered into Russian by the author himself, who is celebrated as a novelist and playwright in his homeland. He fills the honorary post of Kazakh State Secretary.The Ballad of Forgotten Years is translated into English by Richard Samuel, CMG