Samad Yusif oghli Vakilov (1906-1956) was born in the bey (landlord) family in Yukhari Salahli village of Kazakh district. The dynasty of Vakilaghali (later Vakilovs) has 300 years' history. The poet’s mother also belongs to this dynasty. The dynasty was famous for its brave and experienced military men, enlighteners, doctors and poets. In the years of Tsarist Russia they lived in Kazakh, Tbilisi and other places. The poet’s father Yusif agha lived in the village but his last years he spent in Kazakh. He lost his wealth because of his excessive generosity.
Young Samad’s childhood was very hard.When he was six, he lost his 28-year-old mother. Samad was brought up by his father and grandmother (mother’s mother) Aysha khanim. The poet’s grandfather, Aysha khanim’s husband Mehdikhan agha was a poet known under pseudonym Kyukhansal. Well-known Azerbaijani poet, Ibrahim khan’s (the khan of Garabagh) vizir (chief consultant) Molla Panah Vagif (1717-1797) also belongs to this kin.
Young Samad spent his early childhood in his native village and got his elementary education there.
In 1918 a popular enlightener and literary critic Firudin bey Kocharly transferred the Azerbaijani language school of Gory Seminary to Kazakh, founding Kazakh Teachers' Seminary.
The Seminary was the foremost hearth of education. The brothers –Samad and Mehdikhan Vakilovs were among the village children accepted to the Seminary. Fridun bey’s wife Badisaba Vakilova (Kocharli) was poet's close relative.
In spite of Samad’s weak health, he was a very brave, quick-witted, strong-willed, inquisitive boy. From the first day of his studying he demonstrated his innate talent. During these years he was interested in literary works of Vagif, Vidadi, Zakir and Sabir, got to know with the works of A.S.Pushkin, M.Y.Lermontov, Turkish writers and poets- Tofik Fikret, Namik Kamal and Mammad Amin. Possessing an excellent singing ability he sang songs and recited poems, and played in many performances in amateur theatres.
In 1922 the poet’s father Yusif agha died, a year later his grandmother Aysha khanim died too. Their cousin Khangizi took care of Samad and his brother Mehdiknan.
His first poems were written during the Seminary years. They were goshmas (one of the folk genres). They were published in the wall newspaper of the Seminary.
The poet’s first published poem ,“Addressing to Youth”, appeared in the Tbilisi newspaper “Yeni Fikir” (New Thought) in 1925. He dedicated this poem to his graduation ceremony of the Seminary.
After graduating from the Seminary Samad Vakilov taught the Azerbaijan Language and Literature in such different regions of Azerbaijan as Kazakh, Guba and Ganja, the motherland of Nizami Ganjavi.
Little by little he began to dedicate his life to poetry. The pseudonym “Vurghun” is the explanation of his love to his nation, Motherland, delightful nature of the native land.
I have loved people and nature Since the time I started to write
In 1929 S.Vurghun entered the school of Literature of Moscow University II. During the university years he was actively engaged in creative activity too. His political and lyrical poems were published in his book “Shairin Andi” (Poet’s Oath) in 1930.
The 1930-40s are the period of enthusiasm of his poetical talent. In 1934 his poetical collection of poems “Konul Defteri” (The Soul's Book) and the book “Sheirler” (Poems) were published.
These years the poet enriched our Literature and Dramaturgy purifying poetry from foreign words by creating new works. Only in 1935 S.Vurghun created 7 voluminous poems and about 100 poems written in 1934, the poem ”Azerbaijan” is considered to be one of the pearls of Azerbaijan Literature. Not only the ancient history of mother Azerbaijan, beauties of nature, natural recourses but also hospitality and frankness of the peace-loving nation were reflected in his works.
Some changes happened in S.Vurghun’s private life that year. He married Khavar khanim Mirzabeyova, -the sister of Abdulla Shaig’s wife.
The poet was careful and affectionate father. When his wife Khavar khanim complained of the children’s caprices he always used to tell: ” I was deprived from parents' care, let my kids grow free." The perfect expression of this thought was reflected in his poems addressing to Khavar khanim and his kids:
So long live my two sons Yusif, Vagif! And happy be my daughter Aybaniz! A hundred years, Khavar, my love, may you live! My support, my hope,my secret strength are you!
In 1936-37s S.Vurghun not only created new works in poetry but also was engaged in translation too. He translated Pushkin’s novel written in verse ”Evgeniy Onegin” from Russian into Azerbaijan.
He was awarded with “A.S.Pushkin Medal” for this translation by Pushkin Committee. In these years he carried out one more masterly translation, a part of Shota Rustaveli’s poem “The Knight in a Tiger-skin ”, he was awarded with the Badge of Honour by Georgian SSR for this translation. He translated some works of Taras Shevchenko, Maxim Gorky, Ilya Chavchavadze and Jambul.
In the second stage of 1937 S.Vurghun created his immortal drama “Vagif”. He completed it with unbelievable speed, within 3-4 weeks. This masterly created drama was written about M.P.Vagif’s tragic life, his poetical height, human perfectness.
In 1941 S. Vurghun was given the title of “Stalin Prize Laureate” for ‘Vagif” drama.
1937-38s’ bloody repression didn’t go round S.Vurghun. Malevolence people, feeling the envy of his poetical talent, authority and people’s love tried to blacken the poet by false accusation in nationalism and exterminate him. Repeatedly his “question” was examined in different levels and the great poet was in a dilemma “to be or not to be”. The poet was called by corresponding organizations several times. Testing him morally they made him suffer. However due to his strong will, braveness, he broke his enemies’ plan by his logical and efficient speech.
S. Vurghun, participating actively in the process of celebrating 800 years jubilee of Nizami Ganjavi, in1939 published the article about Nizami, made a scientific speech and carried out a poetical translation of Nizami Ganjavi’s poema “Leyli and Majnun”.
In 1939 S.Vurghun created his poetic drama “Khanlar”. It was dedicated to the life of revolutionary Khanlar Safaraliev. In the same year he published his book (poems) “Azad Ilham”(Free Inspiration).
In 1941 S.Vurghun wrote his next poetic drama “Farhad and Shirin” on the motives of Nizami Ganjavi’s “Khosrov and Shirin”.
Main significance in the drama created during the war was given to high patriotic feelings. In 1941 S.Vurghun was given the title of “Stalin Prize Laureate” for this drama for the second time.
The Great Patriotic War takes a significant place in his creative activity . The following lines:
Listen to me my strongholds Consider me a soldier onwards
was the oath to his Nation and Motherland. These lines meant the programme, creative motto not only for the poet but also in all Azerbaijani poetry during the war.
During the war the poet created more than 60 poems, several voluminous poems and “Baku Dastani” (‘Baku Legend”).
During these years S.Vurghun’s poetic fame spread. The poem “Partisans of the Ukraine“ written in the leaflets was thrown out of the plane into the Ukraine forests for emotional support of the Ukraine soldiers.
In 1943, at the conference held in America, the poem of “Mother’s Parting Wishes” got high value as the best antimilitary work And 20 distinguished world poems about the war were published in New York and spread among military men.
During the war the patriot poet's ardent voice was heard more powerfully at the front line, on the radio, at the hospitals. In hard war conditions S.Vurghun was at the front line: in the Crimea, Mozdok, Grozniy, Novorossiysk.
In 1943 he initiated opening of “Intelligentsia House” named after M. Fizuli in Baku, to conduct military ceremonies and meetings with front-line soldiers.
In philosophical drama “Insan” (Human) written in 1945, the poet tried to reproduce the future in a romantic style, show the power of human spirit which appeared in fiery years of the war.
People were described in the drama “Insan” united with the same wish and ideal, they got together in “The City of Brotherhood”. Rhetoric, common to all mankind, deep philosophical question of the author: "Will the intellect win on the Earth?" is still actual and will be actual for coming years too.
Unlike his other dramas “Insan” was subjected to the critics of the Communist Party and taken off the stage. Later, in 1974 after the poet’s death the drama “Insan” was staged for the second time and had a big success among spectators as well as theoretical community.
S.Vurghun was not only a famous poet but also a great scholar, theorist, irreplaceable organizer.
In 1945 the poet was elected the full member of the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan SSR. In the same year the republican Society of Cultural Relations with Iran was founded in Baku. S.Vurghun was assigned as the Chairman of this society. He determined the important aims of the society from the first day. The poet did his utmost in the building of the spiritual bridge between Azerbaijan and Iran.
In the post war period S.Vurghun as a public man, was actively involved in the establishment of peace in the whole world.
As a delegate of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, S.Vurghun visited England on the way to Berlin in 1947. Here he was expected by good news: Berlin Theater staged his drama “Vagif”. His opinions and advice were very interesting and useful for the production personnel of the theater. It was noteworthy to mention that while creating the image of Gajar, the german director used Hitler's traits.
In 1948 he participated in the World Congress of Cultural Workers in Vrotslav (Poland). Coming back from the Congress he created the voluminous poem “Afro American Says” which was published in the same year. The poet’s well-known poetic cycle “European Memories” was the result of his trips to foreign countries.
In 1951 S.Vurghun visited Bulgaria with the help of “Bulgarian-Soviet Friendship” society.
In the foreign press of those years the articles about S.Vurghun's speeches in foreign countries, some of his poems, his substantial and saturated interviews during meetings, were published. Well-known Russian poet Konstantin Simonov’s “My Friend Samad Vurghun’s Speech at the Dinner in London” was very popular.
Post - war period was especially fruitful in S.Vurghun’s creative activity. First he wrote the poetical drama “Mughan”(1948), then “Aygun”(1950-51) and “A Standard Bearer of the Century”(1952).
His last year's poems constituted the new stage in his creative activity. They are distinguished with their diversity and deep poetry. Reflecting connection with life such human traits as friendship and benevolence, expressed the feeling of sacred duty to the nation.
Despite his creative achievements S.Vurghun was again subjected to injustice attacks and pressures in 1953. The poem “Aygun” was subjected to sharp criticism, which was especially aggravated after the publication of the article “Poet’s Rights” in Moscow. By the order of the Republic leadership the article was discussed in the Union of Azerbaijan Writers and a critical letter was composed to the editorial office in Moscow. The poet was again accused of nationalism. His books were taken off the library shelves, the plays were crossed out from theaters' repertoire. He was forbidden to leave the city. Moreover, news was spread about his arrest. Although this fact was not executed but the warrant for his arrest was issued in September, 1953. However, the changes in the leadership of the USSR and the Republic prevented this decision from being carried out. (In January, 1956 in the court of those times republic leader M.J.Baghirov and his cliques were accused of their instructions “To annihilate the favorite poet of Azerbaijan, Samad Vurghun – one of the outstanding Soviet poets”. As a proof of this two files of accusatory materials and the arrest warrant were produced.
In 1953 when the significant changes happened in the life of the country and Republic Samad Vurghun was assigned the Vice President of Academy of Sciences of the Republic. He started working in this post with great enthusiasm. He put forward important issues to the social sciences, discussing urgent problems and the project of scientific publication for hours.
Being an extraordinary benevolent man, S.Vurghun tried to help people while working in the post of Vice President. Sara khanim Ashurbayova and Pusta khanim Azizbayova’s contribution to the science is connected with his name. Moreover, the scholars-linguists Turkan Afandiyeva, Vagif Aslanov, the philosopher Jamal Mustafayev, the historian Mahal Mammadov and others came to the science with his help. He helped the families of post graduate students who had been sent to Moscow for studies, at the same time assisted them financially because the stipend was not enough for living there.
In the territory of the USSR Samad Vurghun was widely known. He was awarded with high orders and medals of the USSR in different years, and was the favorite poet of soviet nations.
He was entrusted to be the co-lecturer on the topic dedicated to soviet poetry (for 20 years) in the II All Union Congress of soviet writers. Azerbaijani people were proud of this fact.
In October, 1955, being a member of soviet delegation visiting Vietnam, the poet fell ill and was obleged to interrupt his trip on half way. In China he was placed to Beijing hospital. But he didn’t lose his hope to be cured and returned to his active life. Short poems, written at the hospital cot, witness his strong will and courage:
O ill-timed end, stand farther from me here. On foreign soil I will not yield to death, So with your scythe from me awhile keep clear, For while I hold a pen and still draw breath, On foreign soil I will not yield to death...
Several weeks later he returned to his motherland. His illness was aggravated.
In March,1956 Samad Vurghun was 50. The community of the country was getting ready to celebrate the jubilee. The leaders of Azerbaijan established the title “National Poet of Azerbaijan” and for the first time Samad Vurghun was honored with this title. On May, 12,1956 in the building of Opera and Ballet Theatre ceremonial jubilee meeting took place. The literary community of the USSR and foreign guests participated in this ceremony. Two weeks later on May 27, 1956 at half past seven the poet closed his eyes forever. The poet’s flaming heart burning with unfading creative flame stopped.
From the 28th to the 30th of May an endless stream of people took leave of the great poet, the coffin with corpse placed in Azerbaijan State Philharmony. These days all Azerbaijan was in mourning. On the 30th of May the poet was buried in the Alley of Honorable Burial Place, in Baku.
During mourning days the poet’s family got telegrams with condolences from all parts of the country. In one of the telegrams expressing deep heartache was written : “Let consolidation be for your family that from the day of Samad Vurghun’s death his new life begins -immortality” And it is actually so.
After Samad Vurghun’s death, his name was immortalized everywhere. In one of the central squares of Baku the poet’s majestic monument was raised and one of the central squares was named after S.Vurghun. The name of S.Vurghun was given to Russian Dramatic Theater, summer cinema in Primorsk Park and oil tanker. The name of S.Vurghun was also given to one of the Moscow streets by Mossovet order. In Kiev the library, in Dushenbe School No57 and in Bulgaria junior technical college were named after S.Vurghun.
In all districts of the Republic S.Vurghun's name was given to numerous schools, the houses of culture, streets, parks and so on. During soviet regime his name was given to collective farms and sovkhozes. In the towns and villages the poet’s name was immortalized by monuments and busts, in different places corners and little museums dedicated to the poet. “Samad Vurghun’s Museum” in Gakh takes special place among these, established by Mammad Ashurov in the house. He built it in his own yard.
In 1975 on "The Days of the Soviet literature" in Baku with the participation of the literary society of the country "House Museum" of the poet was opened, and in 1976 the branch of the museum of Samad Vurgun Poetry House" was opened in Yukhari Salahli, his native village.