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TURKISH POETRY

Translated by

NILŰFER MIZANOĞLU REDDY

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CONTENTS

ABDAL, Pir Sultan (16th century)


Scribe, Write the Shah about my Plight
I Asked the Yellow Crocus

AKIN, Gülten
Hymn for the Troubled Poet
Hymn for Iron and Rust
Song for an Ageless Woman
The Geranium
Autumn
Winter
Spring
Summer
Errata
Fairy Abode
Nahit Hanım
I Loved You
I would have Smiled
Winter Journey

ARIF, Ahmed
My unforgettable one
Your Love for Me
Locked-up

BÜYUKAKSOY, Vecihe
Bulgurlu Zade Rifat Bey

ÇAMLİBEL, Faruk Nafiz (1898-1973)


The Walls of Caravanserai

DİRANAS,Ahmet Muhip
You and the Sky

HALMAN, Talat
The Letter

HIKMET RAN, Nazim


Bare Feet

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The Pupils of the Hungry Ones
The Song of the Sun Drinkers
A Tale of Separation
Testament
Prison Letters: Istanbul
Bitkiler Ipeklisinden
Before the Time Runs Out, My Rose
To Asian and African Writers
From the Epic of the National Independence Struggle
The Multitudes
1918-1919: The Story of the Black Snake
The Month of August: Our Women
Blue-Eyed Giant, Tiny Woman and Honeysuckle
To Paul Robeson
My Idea of a Sailor
To my Uncle
To my Martyred Uncle
My own Uncle
To my Country
For my Martyred Uncle
For my Martyred Uncle- 2
Samiye’s Cat
The Youth
Untitled – 2 poems
In Five Lines
[Does not include poems of Nazim Hikmet translated in collaboration with Rosette Avigdor]

ILHAN, Attila
Ancient Marine Folk
the notes of bespectacled Hamdi
Birds of Imagination
Mehmet Siragadlari
connectives
A song in my heart
Poem with the sound of “CH” as in Selchuk (Kochaklama, Eulogy)
turkey
teatime in emirgan
time for work

KADIR, A.
My Life

NECATIGIL, Behçet
Time Slipping

NEYZI, Ali
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Olympus Cove

OZANSOY, Halit Fahri (1891-1971)


In Candlelight

RUMI, Mevlana Celaledin


A Poem

TANPINAR, Ahmed Hamdi


Ship that is Asleep at the Pier
Everything is Just Right

TANSEL, Oguz
On the way to Sarikiz
Market Place
The Quail
The Immutable Law
Nomad Girl
Poplar Tree
Willow Tree
Oleaster Tree
Awakening
The Imaginary Journey
The Village
The Meadow
The City
Pigeons
Our Forgotten Rule
Kindam, Dazzling Beauty –
Dazzling Beauty – I
Dazzling Beauty – IX
Dazzling Beauty – X (Full Gallop)
Dazzling Beauty - XI
Dazzling Beauty – XII
Universe of Dazzling Beauty
Blue Sky
Difficult Longing
Dervish Musa
The Middle East: A Volcano
No to War
The Night of Hope
Respect for Reason
Gossip
The Pool
Native of the New World (To Asturias)

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Blue Sea
Dear Life

TURAN, Omer
mother’s house

VELI, Orhan
For those who are nostalgic for the Sea
The first mornings of the spring
In between
Some days
Toward Freedom
Open myself to the winds
Listening to Istanbul
Suddenly
The Mermaid
The Cornelian Cherry
On the sea’s horizon
Of a cloud above our heads
Morning

YAVUZ, Hilmi
Infants of the East

ZIYALAN, Nihat
Echo

ZORLUTUNA, Halide Nusret


A Little More

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ABDAL, PIR SULTAN (16TH CENTURY)

SCRIBE, WRITE THE SHAH ABOUT MY PLIGHT1

I praise thy hand clever with the pen,


Scribe, write the Shah about my plight.
Thy sweet tongue deserves praises,
Scribe, write the Shah about my plight.

For God’s sake scribe, write it like it is,


Night and day for the Shah I prayed.
May this bloody Sivas lie in ruins,
Scribe, write the Shah about my plight.

My swan song is heard all over Sivas,


Pine-covered hills are torn with strife.
Separated from friends - I am distraught,
Scribe, write the Shah about my plight.

The trouble maker runs the place as he pleases,


As deadly pallor settles on our rosy cheeks.
The imposter laughs away carrying his base deeds,
Scribe, write the Shah about my plight.

Hey, Hizir Pasha! I’m called Pir Sultan Abdal,


Burning with desire to see my kith and kin again,
See, what destiny you’ve conjured up for me,
Scribe, write the Shah about my plight.

I ASKED THE YELLOW CROCUS2

1
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

2
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

7
I asked the yellow crocus
Where do you spend the winter
Dervish why should you ask
I spend the winter underground

I asked the yellow crocus


What do you eat underground
Dervish why should you ask
I eat the crumbs of God

I asked the yellow crocus


Why do you look so pale
Dervish why should you ask
The fear of God makes me tremble

I asked the yellow crocus


Have you a mother and a father
Dervish why should you ask
The earth’s my mother the rain’s my father

I asked the yellow crocus


Holding its staff with love
Uttering the words of God
The crocus too is a dervish

Pir Sultan is (with) the believers


His face glowing with holy light
In the company of revered dervishes
The crocus too is a dervish

AKIN, GŰLTEN3

Gűlten Akin (1933-2015) was born in the central Anatolian town of Yozgat in 1933. She graduated from
the Ankara School of Law in 1955. She worked as a lawyer and teacher and lived in different regions of
Turkey with her husband who had an administrative job. Her poetry is influenced by folklore and folk

3
The introductory note, "Sardunya" and "The Geranium" were published in TARS Review, Spring 2015.

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poetry of Turkey. She combines this source of inspiration with a thoroughly modern sensibility that deals
with themes of nature, love, a feeling for history and social injustices. She has been active in defense of
human rights and social justice.

Far away from Ankara, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on a bright sunny fall day with yellow and red
leaves on the trees shimmering against a deep blue sky, I sadly learned about the passing away of our
beloved poet from our newspapers which I read every day on the internet. I was extremely distressed.

I translated several of her poems into English and they were published in anthologies of Turkish literature.
Gulten Akin was the truly authentic voice of Turkish literature. In her productive life she published at many
volumes of poetry and prose that brought her prestigious literary awards. Her poems were always
inspired by Turkish landscapes and people residing in them; her penetrating gaze went beyond simple
observations to the deepest thoughts and feelings of people, in a sense deep into their souls. It was the
outlook of a woman who had lived and worked in different parts of the country and was well versed in the
nuances of the Turkish language spoken in those parts.

Poverty and injustice were major themes of her poems. She often wrote about women and children and
the oppressive power of men over them. She believed that the roots of Turkish social literature existed in
the folk literature and poetry and in the lives of the people. Her aim was to elevate the substance and
forms which existed among people in a dialectical manner that would eventually help to improve their
lifestyles. The staleness of styles, slavish dependence on books, and the cheap sentimentalism of a
muddled language were her antagonists. Hopefulness, faithfulness to life and to a simple heartwarming
language were Gülten Akın’s most cherished values.

She can sleep in peace as generation after generation will read and admire her poems which exalted
Turkish language and literature to new heights.

Nilüfer Mizanoğlu Reddy

HYMN FOR THE TROUBLED POET4

Though I am smaller than a grain


I can contain the whole world!
But the world is too small for me,
Too small, too small, my son.

I can become a cloud,


I can fly to the sky,
I can wander through the meadows,
But I cannot pour like rain, my son.

4
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

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My hawk is tied in chains,
A carnation in its beak.
This cruel conflict,
I cannot, cannot resolve, my son.

I am a poet, my toil is tough


Hard times bind me in my plight.
I put away my tireless pen,
I cannot, cannot write, my son.

HYMN FOR IRON AND RUST5

Between narcissus and autumn roses


For five long years
Between rain and snow
For five long years
Between cold and frost
Between iron and rust
From Seyran to Mamak
For five long years

I came to know the sound of iron


The pressing hand the pushing shoulder
The opening of the padlock the grating of the door
The cruel sound of iron
For five long years

If someone had planted a willow tree,


Its shadow would have darkened the house.
He was my weeping willow I brought him up,
I ache for him deep in my heart.

For five long years.


Your voice is tired, you are wary,
Words especially chosen for us,
Words dried on the clothesline,
5
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

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Are the only ones we talk with –
If you can call that talking.

No inflection, no color, not a syllable of warmth:


“How are you?”
“I am fine.”
For five long years,
I could not call you:
My brave, my one and only, pillar of my house.
I kept it secret, lest they hear, I didn’t want that.
Now I feel that my voice has grown old.

There will surely come a day,


I keep shining it.
I know,
The bird in my broken heart will not be silent.

SONG FOR AN AGELESS WOMAN6

Your face was never a rough sketch


It had the lines of a finished painting
Your face drawn by your own hand
Lovingly, fearfully, hastily
You wove the satin cloth and cut the serge
You were both the cutter and the stitcher
Of school uniforms and prison garb
One was too loose, the other too tight
For the body of the people

What you’ve lost in blessings for many a day


You’ve gathered in curses in an exalted life
Perhaps you’ve taken leave of your body now
But when everything is in uproar
Even lifeless objects stir
Rising from the days of stifling silence
You’ll be the one to gather again
The much needed things
6
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

11
With your womanly motherly fertile hands
We made a pillow for your silvery head
From rose petals brought from the mountains
Take a rest now.

THE GERANIUM7

Let us remember the rule:


No one can stop the rain,
No one can block the sun
For the planters of seeds and saplings.

I am planting basil and geranium.


My neighbor says they’re hardy,
Even if you don’t want them,
They take root and keep growing in your garden.

My God, how wonderful, wonderful,


I am planting basil and geranium
In love with the hardiness of grass and flowers.
What is hardiness?
It is hope and resistance
It is to plunge into the bosom of life
It is to be one with life
Believe me, friends, believe me
A geranium shoot separated from the plant
Does not die at all, does not even droop
It keeps blooming in the earth where I planted it.

AUTUMN8
7
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996. Also published in Turkish Area Studies Review,
No. 27, Spring 2016

8
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

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Autumn is here I am bleary-eyed and blind.
Autumn is here I know my hair is falling out.
They say I was born in the highland beyond the seas.
I feel its ups and downs in my knees.

The gazelle descended into the streams, my beloved.


The fight is over. Hang your rifle on the wall.
The kingdom of the hearth has arrived. Take your hatchet
From the corner, go to the forest. Kiss our children.

Those down below raise their kites into the sky –


The weather is right –
Down there children can read, but I am blind.
Their books and newspapers smell good.
I should come down to smell and feel them.

Ah, my beloved, I am tied down here,


Blind and old at the age of thirty.
Take the children and go down,
I want them to see everything.

Autumn is here, my beloved, you’re free to go,


But I am blind, I’ve never gone beyond the stream.
I remember how we slaved all summer long,
But the potatoes couldn’t even buy a piece of cloth.

Go and ask: Are we counted as human, are we in the census book?


I am blind, we’re old, but have the children registered.
Take the potatoes to the buyer for twenty-five kuruş,
On the way back sing a thousand songs to the donkey.

For the things of this world one must have the world’s money.
You eked out a pitiful twenty-five liras from the land.
Buy our shroud, don’t forget the soap and the scrubber,
Reserve a bit of paradise with the money for the Hoja.

I’ll die this autumn, I’ve finished all my chores.


I’ve washed in the stream, climbed the walnut tree and scared away the birds.
I was kidnapped, gave birth to twelve children, swaddled and tended.

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I married sons, raised daughters and reached the age of thirty.

Don’t tell me, “Don’t cry, girl,” I will be angry.


I’ll not cry, let the mountains and rocks cry.
I am blind, weak, worn-out and diseased.
Where can I find those who caused this?
Let the birds who feel more human than humans cry.

WINTER

Winter is here dear. We've lighted the fire.


The walnut tree is bare the stream is muddy.
Death, mounted on a black horse, has spared me this time.
We're cooking the red beets in the same pot again.

Blow! We're full of smoke, grimy and wretched.


Blow! The more hellish it gets the better.
Blow! Does God resemble a knife or a hatchet?
Blow, with your mouth of the blind! Your mouth is sharp.

Yesterday, my daughter-in-law and I wept -- dead tired--


They shot my Ahmedali in the forest.
I told him not to wear his best -- there will be blood--
They shot my Ahmedali in the forest.

Hush! The more we suffer the better it is.


Hush! Paradise! Hush, good tidings! Bring in the Holy Book.
We had already seen the unlucky sign,
From our silent, gloomy barn.

My Memedali was to share your pillow,


We buried him in his grave -- it was his fate--
His clothes fit my Osman just right,
His five hundred liras went to his dad --the corporal—

Tell me, my loon, is the sparrow a bird, the sprat a fist, are we human?
Don't weep my loon, our graves will overflow,

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Leave the dead alone. Let My Memedali go,
To market to buy for you flannel cloth and shiny shoes.

Ah, it's morning already, where's my daughter-in-law?


They've kidnapped her. Now I must go begging.
Selim Ağa, Selim Bey, please, let me have her back.
Can't buy another one, let me have her back.

SPRING

Ah, nobody has time,


To stop and see the subtle things.

They draw houses, children and graves in the world,


With broad brushes and they pass on.
When they open a song they see the sad things,
After one look they close it again.
The songs and all that is subtle enter the night.

Their breasts contain a little pus, a little fish and a few tears.
Open sea, you turn yourself into a giant.
In the evenings your fog enters through the mouths
Of the streams and invade our hazel trees.
What can we do with the wizened buds?
We implore our children: "Stay hungry for a while."
We implore the traders: " Make fewer drawings
Of hotels, of secret mergers, of banks. .."
A plea from us to you and to all the others.
We send our wives to manicure their hands,
And say, " Yes sir, yes ma'am."
We send our children to beg,
We leave our hearths entrusting them to God,
We are the motorized gypsies of the summer.

Ah, nobody has time,


To stop and see the subtle things.

To return to fathers' houses, to the first rivers,


To have passion for the land for its own sake.

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We close our ears: money money money
We open our ears: fight fight fight
If someone asks: Why, but why, always fight?
Why axes against our neighbors, fists against our wives?

We don't know why we fight.

Then in the jailhouse of our town,


We place our plight in front of us.
We stretch and widen our days,
To make room to think about our wives,
To think about the changing days of our absence.

Even if no one has time


To stop and see the subtle things
Even if the women teachers
Have longer holidays
Even if they weave cloth to bind
Our eyes in the name of the most sacred
In drawings and in everything more and more,
Spring flowers will blossom.

One day some people from the other side,


Will whistle and we'll whistle back.

SUMMER

My beloved summer is here again.


We came upon the earth with ants and flies;
Red mullets, perches, olives and lettuce.
We left behind the April fog, the gloomy rains.
The Black Sea is blue; my beloved summer is here again,
To make children and poets happy.

The year was sixty-eight; we'd gone through the forties and the fifties.
We lived in the sixties, we committed offenses.
The notices said: "Meet at Kizilay on May 5 at 5:00 p.m.”
We all had jobs to attend...
But Ankara had become the revolution's base.
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In the forties we were seven. The military service was
Three years. They bragged that we stayed out of the war, ( they still brag).
At the age of seven going to school hungry was the rule.
--As the wheat was rotting beside furs and diamonds--
We went to school hungry ( maybe a hard roll and an orange for lunch).

To be skinny and ugly, to be ashamed of your shoes


--This feeling lasts forever--
Unhealthy teeth and unhealthy hair,
Hands trembling and palpitation.
Fear because one is ashamed,
Not to have candy or dolls, or balls.
Books, pencils, notebooks -- after days of crying.
--This feeling lasts forever in each loneliness-
They bragged that the war was far from us
-- They had kept us out of it, they were skillful and clever -
Then another villa, another furcoat, another trip to Europe.
The well-fed white laughter in black limousines.
A bunch of parsley, sometimes a basket of eggs,
The salary was fifty liras and the soldiers' monthly ration ninety kuruş.

Black black black


Ankara

The war abroad, building a new Rome,


As the old Rome is destroyed.
A world where the howling wolves roamed,
And the dogs in heat with the rage of a long spring.
Blood and fire, endless famine, Europe decaying,
With its trusts, banks and stock markets.
With all the power of virtue, heroism and treachery.

The year was nineteen fifty. My beloved summer had come.


Not quite seventeen yet, at that moment
Of tender age, still almost a child.
We wondered why they had messed thing up,
With what right -- how quickly we joined together--
With love, shame, dispassion and hate,
With forgiveness, a diluting disturbing forgiveness.

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Mays are beautiful, the stonecutters are brave,
Letting water run through porous stones.
The balladeers, the foul-mouthed fishermen,
The grave diggers, the snail-gathering girls,
The talkative smiling women, the wool-spinners,
Those who have seen massacres, the crafty traders,
Especially the revolutionaries, the revolutionaries,
Who make mistakes all the time but end up in righteousness,
Mays are beautiful.

The ladies and gentlemen dance till the morning hours for cancer benefits.
They take pity on the blind and the needy and collect receipts.
The black headlines announce "The Honorable Philanthropists."
For the idle businessmen.

Summer came to my favorite dresses kept in mothballs,


To the moldy pickles and the rancid marmalades,
To the science experts who rot from idleness.
-- Ah, that useless chemistry that thinks itself the genuine stuff--
With the wandering minstrel, the ballad singer and the forlorn poet,
With the thin-eyebrowed and the lice-headed,
With the nylon-stockinged and the mangy-horsed, .
Summer came to Anatolia.

-- Ah, that useless chemistry that thinks itself the genuine stuff--
Stay where you are, don't you dare to move,
Only drop in sometime like a socialist Jesus,
Wait on the side to emerge when needed.
May descends into Anatolia from its own streams,
May descends into Anatolia from its own mountains.
My beloved summer is here gain.

ERRATA

a book with errors


corrected in the handwriting
of a faraway friend, too far now
winters were lived

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so erroneously that winter
but for whom, who had seen the errors
that woman one evening pretended
to abandon all her suspicions
winter within four walls
narrow room lukewarm proximity
the tolerance put on conspicuously
burdening the other heavily
the old narrow staircase
steps balustrade side rails
could not support all that
one stayed upstairs
the other one downstairs
in between
the handwritten corrections
of a faraway friend
too far away

FAIRY ABODE

There in that fairy abode


with your poems Emily
the decorated high ceiling, six long windows
it is snowing nonstop
over the bare plane trees and the soft firs
in the back, half of a silhouette of a mosque with two minarets
the sky is ruled by a murky grayness
and the dark shadow of the old watchtower
lies over the lace curtain
in the midst of brand-new goods
awkwardly pushed around
the markets, foreign attire, venturesome wares
at the end of the warehouses the wide open pier
the roaring, exuberant, impetuous pier
ready to empty all its goods in the town
and the harbor with ships from faraway
and near lands with doleful flags
there, in that fairy abode
with your poems Emily

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“To wait an Hour – is long –
if Love be just beyond –”
if love is right in you
if you had maintained it
from the oldest time in your memory
there in that fairy abode
leave it to snow, to fog, to shadows
leave it to frayed dreams
it is the day for its slipping away to eternity

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NAHIT HANIM

Why was the teacher’s desk so high?


To scare a whole class of children in black uniforms?
We were not afraid of her, she used to enter
the covered door silently as if penetrating a wall.
Her walk was gentle, the desk became quieter
and smaller. We, the girls, breathed freely,
her uncurled light-brown hair fell on her face
which was a pale saintly face.
It was a mask, for some people it never changed
was I the only one to notice
whether she was happy or sad?

Was she hard of hearing? So the words of this world


should not hurt her
was she all covered up?
She hid her slender body
inside her old frayed smock.

From her invisible inner armor


what she told was not too much or too little
with a few words caught in the air
it went far beyond the lesson,
Balzac, Dostoevski, Kafka.
She brought her own copy of Silone.
In the stone courtyard surrounded by high walls
lying down like cats sunning themselves,
I used to take trips around the world.

It was Bread and Wine, it was the Karamazovs,


perhaps the Lily of the Valley, too.
My dreams would multiply.
Who nourished this desperate little girl
with sunshine?

Was it “the fish in the Raki Bottle”


Gossips? What kind of people were they?
I wanted to know what the evenings were like
as if the nights were enveloping the days.

21
The lesson was over then that the stork-legged
“Stranger - Orhan Veli,”
wearing his old coat with its collar turned up,
would appear and take her away

Perhaps I blamed him for that.

I LOVED YOU9

I loved you, loved you not suddenly but slowly


It was not like “I woke up in the morning,” no
Just the way the sap rises up to the tips of a branch
And the sunlight falls over the meadows through fog

My lips were dry, I loved you they touched water


The season became summer passing through cherries and plums
The lost gazelle found her mother after a long search
Your name became timeless passing through my mouth
I panted, I blew on the leaf, it quivered. August ended
I loved you, my loves became complete flowing through you

I loved you. The little roly-poly men


And their thick-necked women
Before going across the country from one end to the other
Before a kind of reign based on lies was established
Before bridges and roads were ruled by securities and bonds
Before opening to the outside or the inside and shutting out
Our rivers, our mountains and many of our belongings
Were sold lot by lot as title deeds
Before corporations, trusts and societies became holy
Before God was parceled out and closed down
I loved you. You are my only option now

I WOULD HAVE SMILED

9
Published in ÇN - Çeviri Edebiyatı, No. 11, 2010

22
I don’t like the darkness, if it were up to me
I would turn all the lights on in the evening
I am looking at a room, a woman is sitting
on the edge of an armchair as if about to stand up
You are leaning toward her
your face is near hers, your hand is on her shoulder
is she myself? I have forgotten it was so long ago
her head bent over the woman says
“I am tired of you”

maybe I wouldn’t have said that if that was me


maybe I would have given little smiles
maybe I would have held her hand
the room is too dark, if that was me
I would have turned all the lights on in the evening

WINTER JOURNEY

That storm blue flower whose name I don’t know


Suddenly I came across in a garden under snow
If I bend over and look it would reappear

Sprawling freely over the plains


In the color of sky blue
The world, that and me, the two of us
We are very young, still young
Our smiles
Have the flavor of truancy

Is it going back, or imagination, are we older


Between us that storm blue flower
That and me the world is the two of us
We go and we come back

ARIF, AHMED (1927-1991)


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MY UNFORGETTABLE ONE10

You bloomed,
Blue and green,
In my loneliness.
You bloomed,
Bright red, speckled and pure;
I could rise above griefs and treasons.
To go,
To go into exile in your eyes.
To be locked up,
To be locked up in the cage in your eyes.
Wherever they may be!
It isn't "To be or not to be,"
Or "Cogito ergo sum" either;
The real business is to understand the inevitable:
The avalanche that cannot be stopped,
The stream that flows forever.
To drink,
To drink the moonlight in your eyes.
To attain,
To attain life's miracle in your eyes.
Wherever they may be!

Since your soul was concealed within my soul,


When the executioner tightened the rope,
It was our love that flowed into the night,
Instead of blood.
To feel,
To feel the gallows in your eyes;
To become silent,
To become silent in your eyes;
Those razor-sharp
eyes of yours.

10
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

24
YOUR LOVE FOR ME11

Your love has not forsaken me


I was starving, I was thirsty;
The night was dark and treacherous
The soul was desolate and wordless;
The soul was shattered...
And my hands were in manacles,
I had no cigarettes, no sleep,
But your love has not forsaken me.

LOCKED-UP12
Hey stone wall! Do you know?
The iron gate, the black window?
My pillow, my bunk, my chains,
The sad picture in my cache,
For whose sake I almost died,
Do you know?
My visitor has brought me green onions,
My cigarettes have the aroma of cloves.
Oh, the spring has come in the mountains of my land.

11
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

12
Published in: Kemal Silay (ed.) An Anthology of Turkish Literature. Indiana University Turkish Studies & Turkish
Ministry of Culture Joint Series XV. Bloomington, Indiana, 1996

25
BÜYUKAKSOY, VECIHE

BULGURLU ZADE RIFAT BEY

When you stop to take a look at that lovely valley


Across from the top of Hacikadin Hill
You see the two-winged house of’ Rifat Bey
With its rust-colored shutters
And its red-tiled roofs.
Rifat Bey sits under the big oak
Humming a song to himself.
It is shady and cool under the tree;
The sunlight filtering through its foliage
Falls on the ground sparsely.
Big Rifat Bey leans against the century-old oak,
Across from him his wife sits cross-legged
On a silk pillow over an embroidered rug,
Hand-rolling cigarettes for herself with fine tobacco.
Big Rifat Bey the son of Kerim Efendi,
Seems as sturdy as the big oak tree.
He chats with his wife -- he sings a melancholy song.
The houses of the Kurds are up there,
Their camels roaming everywhere.
She sits down to milk the cow,
With the sweaty udders.
Her honey-colored eyes are dreamy.

Rifat Bey’s father Kerim Efendi, too,


Used to sing and play the lute.
Rifat Bey wonders, “What was he singing?”
Quietly he hums to himself:

I know you’re in love with the rose,


But who knows what the rose thinks?

Muzeyyen Hanlm remembers,


Our father Kerim Efendi used to sing:
26
Tailor may your hands be broken,
You made my vest too tight for me!.

Then both pray for the departed ones,.


Rifat Bey is up, holding his cane,
His wife walks ahead of him;
They stroll in the vineyard, in the orchard,
And by the brook;
Collecting stones, grafting the vines, or pruning the trees.
On one side of the brook are the poplars,.
When the wind blows they rustle.
Under the poplars Rifat Bey’s wife sings,
Her mother Saliha Hanim’s song.

One poplar is taller than the other


Under the poplars grow the grapevines
Oh my beloved, the apple of my eye.

On the other side of the brook


Stand the walnut trees
With their branches reaching the sky,
And stretching over the brook.
The wife calls Rifat Bey,

“Don’t sit by the brook too long,


Come over here Kemal’s papa.”
The other side of the brook
Belongs to the Abazas.
Abaza Ali Efendi and his wife Hatçe Hanim,
Are walking over
To visit their neighbors,
Carrying a tray of mulberries.
Bounteous fruit to be shared by all.
The garden-hands are sent near the well,
To spread over the kilims,
And place the print-covered cushions.
They all sit by the well to have a chat,
Coffees with cardamom bubble over the branch fires.
Rifat Bey’s children come over
To greet. the guests --
27
The boys carrying shovels and pick-axes,
The girls carrying platters and trays --
Rifat Bey’s wife asks:
Where are your children? Why didn’t they come?
Sonny, run over there and tell them to join us!
It is an open secret that Lutfiye
Is in love with Muhiddin.
Celal is the pal of Celal, [???]
Fitnat is Vecihe’s friend.
Nezihe doesn’t join them,
She’s either reading or writing.
Kemal and Raziye -- the history teacher --
Ride horses.
Mesrure had married Mehmet Bey years ago,
And the beautiful Samiye,
Went to Konya that year to marry a doctor.
Rifat Bey talks about the orchard,
The vineyard and the vegetable garden,
With Çerkez Ali Efendi.
All Efendi knows how to graft the vines,
And how to lay them to rest in winter.
Hatçe Hanim knows
How to roll the finest, layers of dough,
How to make molasses from the grapes
And how to spin the wool from the goats’ hair.
But that day their chat was interrupted,
Rifat Bey had to dash to town.
Yahya Efendi, the messenger of the parliament was sent
To tell Rifat Bey -- a deputy in the National Assembly --
That M. Kemal Pasha would like him to come over.
So this life went on happily for many years,
Both in Hacikadin and in Can Sokak in Ankara
Until Müzeyyen Hanim passed away in Istanbul,
At the young age of forty-nine.
Rifat Bey was deeply grieved,
He lived in Ankara alone for a dozen years.
He sold that beautiful country house,
He couldn’t live there anymore
Without his lovely wife.
He sat by the window,
In the house in Can Sokak, No. 13,
28
Thinking of Müzeyyen Hanim.
He would sing again with his melancholy voice:

Why did I see you?


Why did I fall in love with you?
My heart is broken
Because of your sad eyes.

Then he moved to Istanbul.


Three years later he,
And soon after his youngest son Celal
Joined Müzeyyen Hanim in death.
Now all three,
Are sleeping peacefully,
In the Merkez Efendi Cemetery.

ÇAMLIBEL , FARUK NAFIZ (1898-1973)

THE WALLS OF CARAVANSERAI

The dark horses neighed the leather whip cracked,


For a minute the carriage came to a halt.
Then the iron springs shook under my seat,
In front of my eyes passed the caravanserais...
Filled with forebodings for the lands far from home,
I was on my way to inner Anatolia via Ulukışla road.
My first sorrow and separation resembling the first love;
The air warmed up with the fire kindled by my heart,
But the sky, the earth and the bare trees were yellow...
Behind the chains of high Toros mountains,
Ahead the slopes paled by a long winter…
Then the turning wheels moaning at each turn...
As my hands were ensnared with the wind’s tresses,

29
Our carriage clung onto the side of a mountain.
Heights everywhere loneliness all over,
But for the sound of the whistle coming from the lips of the carter!
The roads seemed to stretch, turn and bend with this whistle.
Serpentine roads that seemed fast asleep,
Raised their heads to the silence so deep.
The sky was getting cloudy the wind chilly,
The rain started coming down in a fine drizzle.
After the last climb the land became so flat,
We turned ashen by the sight of this tableland.
The roads like ribbons tied us up to the horizon,
The strange land was pulling me incessantly to itself.
The road, always the road the flatland had no end...
Not a village to be seen not even the illusion of a hovel,
Deserted roads constantly reminding of one’s mortality.
Only an occasional rider or a couple of foot-travelers passing by.
The wheels rattling over the jagged stones,
Were telling stories to the roads.
And the long sprawling roads shook with this noise...
Abandoning myself to the sound of the wheels,
I lay down and fell asleep on a mattress in the carriage.

A jolt... I woke up from my long nap,


The carriage was passing through a brook like a road.
Across from us was Niğde rising like a fort,
A sound of bells was coming from our right;
Then a camel caravan slowly passed in front of us.
Around the corner appeared the run-down inn of the region.
Meanwhile a semi-darkness was enveloping everything,
We untied our horses and entered the inn.
To find solace for the wounds in their hearts,
The destitute had gathered in the caravanserai.
All four corners of the earth joining at one point,
Exiled souls had come together at the hearth.
Their eyes became dreamy upon seeing the sparks,
Their breasts tightened with deep sighs and moans.
The light of a lamp with a sooty glass globe,
Was etching unhappy lines on everybody’s face.
The lines on the faces and around the eyes,
Became deeper and darker like the letters of the Koran...
30
There was a murky wall by the side of my bed,
Its surface was covered with jumbled words and lines.
Whoever slept here had left perishable traces,
Amorous, languid ballads, licentious drawings...
I tried to sleep early at the end of this gloomy day,
But unable to close my eyes I kept gazing at the wall.
Suddenly my eyes were glowing with a few red lines,
But these were not verses they were four drops of blood.
As I tried to decipher the strange designs on the wall,
I had encountered a fellow poet:

It’s been ten years since I’ve left Kınadağ


Far from father’s house far from the bosom of the beloved
Without picking a flower from the garden of love
I was thrown from one side of the border to the other

Underneath a date: March eight, thirty seven…


I could not see a name in the place for signature.
Oh, friend! do not complain your luck is better now,
Today there’s no front, no conscription, no war.
Do not mourn over losing your youth,
Your war front valor is good forever.
The next day the journey started before the sunrise,
A cold March morning every breath was frozen.
Before the first flames of dawn could light the horizon,
The last houses of the town were already behind us.
The day became dark with clouds before it could rise,
The burial mounds looked like mountains from a distance...
The sluggish caravans made their way slowly,
Old inns stood like proud feudal chieftains.
In these endless roads we were coming nearer and nearer,
To a pass squeezed between two mountains.
While a brisk north wind made my insides shiver,
I was happily surprised as we crossed over the pass.
Though the places we came from were approaching spring,
The land in front of us was covered with snow.
This pass seemed to separate spring from winter,
Here the last storm was breaking the last branches.
As our carriage consumed the roads with the same speed,
The snow started to be scattered all around us.
The snow buried everything in a white darkness,
31
This wasn’t the snow but a white death coming from heavens.
When the hope of reaching the village faded in my mind,
The carter bellowed: “Here’s Araplı Beli!”
God help those who are still traveling!
We arrived at our destination and hauled the horses in.

Three, four fellows who had arrived here ahead of us,


Were sitting cross-legged in front of the fire place.
The crackling branches added more life to the company,
Some were telling wolf stories some tales about the bandits...
While the mists of heavy sleep settled before my eyes,
The reflections from the fire shimmered like flowers.
Lighting up the lines on the wall,
Making these couplets enter my heart like flames.

Even if I desire the image of my beloved


I’ve got no strength to cross the mountain
I’m a traveler like a dry leaf
Drifting in front of the wind

In the morning the sky was bright the horizon clear,


Our carriage took to the road on a sunny day.
Traveling on this road from one exile to the next,
I could see the change of three seasons in three days.
After a long journey we arrived at an inn in Incesu,
Dog tired soon fell into sweet sleep.
At the sunrise I woke up with a dream of death,
And burned with these lines over the head of my bed!

I’m forlorn they call me Kerem


The stranger they say took away my Aslı
I’m sick they say it’s consumption
I’m Şeyhoğlu Satilmiş from Maraş

There’s a trace of epitaph in your writing,


I’m afraid you did not get out of this land of exile.
Oh! Şeyhoğlu from Maraş the offering for the saints!
32
May your luck be cursed if you did not cross this mountain.
Quite a few lost their lives to the bandits and the wolves,
Like you without ever reaching home...
As we got ready to go on the way to Erciyeş,
I asked the innkeeper: “Did you know Şeyhoğlu from Maraş?”
He stared at me for a long time then he said:
“He came to the inn alive the other day but left it dead!”

Everything changed suddenly in my tearful eyes,


Our woebegone Şeyhoğlu had not made it to the other side...
My heart hung heavy with the grim news of the Maraşli.

Since that day many years have come and gone by,
But when I see an inn on my travels I tremble.
Because I know the secret tales it may contain,
Oh! The unhappy roads that connect the villages to the borders,
The unhappy roads mourning for the travelers who never come back!
Oh! The walls of caravanserais full of strange designs,
Oh! The walls that break my heart...

DIRANAS, AHMET MUHIP13

YOU AND THE SKY

You and the sky are my only beloveds.


All the rest lie beyond the seas.
My sky with its nights and days,
You my beloved with your love and gaiety;
You’re holding hands calmly and in harmony,
Embellishing my life with joys,
Making me serene at the shore of an evening.
As I live these happy moments,
13
Ahmet Muhip Dıranas (1909-1980) was an important lyric poet.

33
I even forget to breathe,
As though I am eternal!
And that sky above us,
Is so blue and so endless.
That sky is so real;
That big, big, big, giant flower.

HALMAN, TALAT

THE LETTER

In her last letter my mother was saying,


I went to the old house in Kadikőy yesterday.

The lock of the garden gate was rusty


-- must have been from all the rains --
One can't question God's blessings.

A new neighbor leaned out of the window across the way:


"They've been away for years," she said.
The key became colder in my hand,
Are the shutters cross with us,
The first time in forty-five years?

The green gage plum tree is all dried up...


But the jujube tree is still there.
Remember when we sacrificed a sheep under it;
As the blood gushed from the struggling creature,
You cried "There can't be a Celebration for the sacrificed!"
Those who told us it was sinful to look at the sun
had to renew their ablutions for prayers.

-- Now I understand you very well --


Yet when your father's Mevlud prayers were recited downstairs
You too joined in "Allah hűmme salli alâ"

34
Like the cooing of the pigeons far from
the ablution fountain,
their withered hearts were calmed.

You may not believe me:


You know how much I loathed the spiders,
But when I entered the house today
I liked them --
On the walls with cracks bleeding inwards.
After so many weddings, so many coffins
There is still some life left even if it is unsightly.
Smiles cannot last forever
Like the roses that bloom in all seasons --
I am grateful even for this much.

When Father died your eyes rested on the horizon,


Trying to distract you we said:
"He went on a long journey again."
-- Like burying a sleeping bird --
But maybe you knew that
The longest grave belongs to sleepless birds.

Not a single sound was allowed in the house,


no whistling or singing
Time had to be still for forty days
and then the sweetmeats.. ..
The neighborhood's poor knew that and waited for
The taste of death.

I thought the mirrors were longing to hear a whistle…


-- Would you expect it from a seventyish woman? --
I whistled to my heart's content,
With all the coupling might of my lips;
Against desolation, against decaying time,
But before everything else it was a song of triumph
For my house --
A last call for love...
And a prayer for forgiveness.

The climbing vine the most hopeless and undying love.


-- We should never have left our house. --
35
What is the furniture inside good for?

In the moldy darkness


Some expired willingly;
And the others are in their death throes.
Only the climbing vine caresses the big house,
In summer and in winter.
Yet when it first shot up they called it "a weed",
"Pull it up, it will ruin the building," they said.

I think when we were away a workman came in,


And added many more steps to the staircase.
I went up to the attic again.
The roof was always leaking
-- After all it was an old wooden house --
We couldn't keep up with the roof repairs.
Now the tiles are all loose.
Suddenly I see the sky!
We, the women of those days long past
Always looked for heaven under our roof.
Now our rickety roof
Is offering us a handful of sky.

It seems a builder said "Let's pull it down,”


"and put up a five-story high...", truly there is no hope for it;
Even if we did repair it would you or your children live there?

Don't think this is a curse --


Because it is not.

I just wish I could die first


Before our house dies.

HIKMET RAN, NAZIM

36
BARE FEET

The sun
over our heads
a turban of fire.
parched earth
chariks14 for our bare feet
Beside us
a peasant
more dead than his old mule he's not beside us
he's
in our boiling blood. No wrap on the shoulders
no whip in hand
no horse, no cart
no gendarmes
we passed through
villages like bear-dens
muddy towns
bald mountains.
That's how we traveled in that land! We listened
to the sound of stony fields in the watery eyes
of the old oxen. We saw that
the earth does not yield
its golden ears of grain
to black ploughs.
We didn't travel as if in a dream
No,
we reached one rubbish heap after another. That's how we traveled in that land.
We know
what that land
is longing for.
This longing
is made up
like a materialist's mind, this longing
is for matter

matter!

Low-lying

14
charik – simple peasant shoe made of raw hide

37
hovels
with dour façades
are lined up
in streets like mole holes.
Jinn-eyed
pigeon-tongued
wearers of fine cotton turbans sit cross-legged in stores.
In front of them
peasants with chapped soles
in rawhide chariks.
A burly gendarme
drags a couple
who committed
adultery in a field.
In the coffee house
the master dervish
hankering after the novice intones deeply "Lahavle-ve-la"
spits on the faces
of the couple.
Over there
in this sleepy squalid run-down town
love is not romantic
Its soul is hungry
for two lively words: STEAM
ELECTRICITY!

If you're not blind


you can see that
this soil-faced farmhand
and his sunken-chested son
- a survivor of the Caucasus front - have the fingernails of the tax collector
clawing at their heads
he wants to be buried right here
with his daughter
his wife
his oxcart
clutching the last clump of his soil
and die with them
right here
and be buried

38
with them.

The mountains and the fields are longing passionately like a desiring woman
for machines
with souls of steam
every cog with 1000 horsepower becoming iron and ploughing the earth like churning
water!

O gentlemen
with yellow glass bellies
that gurgle like hookahs
O gentlemen
riding in your three-horse carriages
sighing â la Pierre Loti
to deaf
noseless
blind
peasants gentlemen
with bridled mouths
and hands
holding pens!
We're sick and tired of your lying tales.
From now on
you must get
into your
heads:
Peasants are longing for land
and the land
is longing for machines!

Yalnayak, 1922

THE PUPILS OF THE HUNGRY ONES15

Not a few
15
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

39
not five or ten thirty million
hungry ones are ours!

They belong
to us!
We belong
to them!
The waves belong
to the sea!
The sea belongs
to the waves!
Not a few
not five or ten
30,000,000
30,000,000!

Hungry ones A lined up hungry ones


Neither men, nor women, nor boys, nor girls
skinny stunted
crooked trees with crooked branches!
Neither men, nor women, nor boys, nor girls
Hungry ones all lined up hungry ones!

They are
the walking scraps
of those parched lands!
Some of them
are carrying their bloated bellies
that are knocking against their bony knees!
Some of them
nothing but skin only their eyes
are living!

From far
all black protrusions
stretch point by point
like a vein piercing nail
of a horseshoe
mad pupils,
pupils!
Ah those
40
those who have such a pain,
those
who stare in such a way
Our pain is endless!
endless!
endless!
But
our beliefs cannot be done away with!
Our breasts are hard as iron
because our pain is
30,000,000
mad pupils!
Pupils!
0, man!
you listen
to me
with your mouth wide open!
Perhaps behind my back
you call me
"insane"
for howling
my heart out!
If you are
a goose
like the others
if you can't grasp the meaning of my words
Just look at my eyes;
they are:
Mad pupils
Pupils!

Aclarin Gozbebekleri, 1922

THE SONG OF THE SUN DRINKERS16

This is a song:
the song of those
16
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

41
who drink the sun in earthen bowls!
This is a tress:
a tress of flame!
it is twisting;
it is burning like a bloody crimson torch
on the dark brows of
the heroes with bare copper feet!
I too saw those heroes,
I too braided that tress,
I too crossed with them
the bridge
going to the sun!
I too drank the sun in earthen bowls.
I too sang that song!
Our hearts took their speed from the earth
we stretched ourselves
by tearing the mouths
of golden-maned lions!
We sprang:
we rode the lightning wind!
The eagles
swooping
from the cliffs
flapped light-gilded wings.
Flame-wristed riders whipped
prancing horses!

There is a raid on
a raid to the sun!
We will conquer the sun
the conquest of the sun is near!

Those who cry in their houses


and carry their tears
like a heavy chain
around their necks
should not travel
with us!

Those who live on the crust of their hearts


should not follow us!
42
Here:
millions of red hearts are burning
in the fire
that fell
from the sun!
You too
take your heart out from your rib cage;
hurl it
into the fire
that fell from the sun
throw your heart beside our hearts!

There is a raid on
a raid to the sun!
We will conquer the sun
the conquest of the sun is near!

We were born from earth, fire, water, iron!


Our wives nurse our babies with the sun,
our copper beards smell of the earth!
Our joy is hot!
hot like blood,
hot like the "moment"
that sizzles
in the dreams of young men
We hook our ladders to the stars
stepping on the heads of our dead
we rise
toward the sun!
Those who died
died fighting;
they are buried in the sun.
We have no time for mourning.

There is a raid on
a raid to the sun!
We will conquer the sun
the conquest of the sun is near!

Red vineyards of blood-speckled grapes are smoky!


Heavy brick chimneys
43
twisting,
belching!
The one at the head -
He who commands - yells!
This voice!
the force of this voice
this force
that blinds the wounded hungry wolves,
this force
makes them stop
in their tracks!
Order us to die
order!
We are drinking the sun in your voice!
We are getting high,
getting high!...
On the smoky curtain of blazing horizons
riders with sky-ripping lances are running!

There is a raid on
a raid to the sun!
We will conquer the sun
the conquest of the sun is near!

The earth is copper


the sky is copper.
Sing out the song of the sun drinkers,
Sing out
Let us all sing out!
Gunesi Isenlerin Turkusu, 1924

A TALE OF SEPARATION17

The man said to the woman:


"I love you;
17
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

44
and how,
Like squeezing my heart in my palms
like something made of glass
breaking it
madly
until my fingers bleed."

The man said to the woman:


"I love you;
and how
miles and miles deep
miles and miles wide
one hundred percent, five hundred percent,
infinity percent."

The woman said to the man:


"I have looked
with my lips, with my heart, with my head;
with love, with fear, with reverence
at your lips, your heart, your head
Whatever I am uttering now
you have taught me like a whisper in the dark...
And now
I know:
That the earth –
- like a mother with a sunny face –
has suckled her last most beautiful child...
But what can I do?
my hair is entangled
with the fingers of the dying one
I cannot free
my head!
You have to keep walking
after looking into the eyes
of the newborn infant...
You
have to keep walking,
leaving me behind..."

The woman became silent.

45
THEY EMBRACED

A book fell to the ground ...


A window was shut ...

THEY PARTED ...

Bir Ayrilis Hikayesi, 1932

TESTAMENT18

Comrades, if I don't have a chance to see that day, that is if I die


before the liberation,
take my body
bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia.

On one of my sides lies farmhand Osman


shot by Hasan Bey’s hired gun
on my other side martyr Ayşe
who died shortly after giving birth on the earth in the rye field.

Let tractors and songs go by the road down the cemetery,


in the light of dawn young people and the smell of burning gasoline, the fields
belong to everyone, the canals are full of water, no drought, no fear of
gendarmes.

Of course we won't hear these songs, the dead lie


stretched under the earth,
the dead decay like black branches, under the
earth deaf, dumb and blind.

But I had sung these songs


before they were made up,
I had smelled the burning gasoline
even before the tractors were designed.

As to my silent neighbors,
martyr Ayşe and farmhand Osman

18
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

46
they bore that great longing all their lives perhaps
without even noticing.

Comrades, if I die before that day,


- it looks like it may happen -
bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia and if it is
possible,
if there is a plane tree over me
no need for a piece of stone, or anything at all...

Vasiyet, April 27, 1953 Barhiva Sanatorium

PRISON LETTERS: ISTANBUL19

My darling,
heads forward. eyes open as far as one can see,
red glow of burning cities,
trampled crops
endless stamping of feet
go on and on.
And people are slaughtered
more easily
more smoothly
in larger numbers
than the trees and the calves.

My darling,
In the din of stamping feet, in this massacre
I happened to lose my freedom, my daily bread and you.
yet in the midst of hunger, darkness and screams
I never lost my faith for the days to come
that would knock on our door with sunny hands.

19
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

47
2

I am so happy I was born into this world,


I love its earth, its light, its struggle and its bread.
Even if I know the earth's circumference to the last centimeter
and not ignorant of its toy-like size next to the sun,
I am still awed by the immensity of this world.
I would have liked to wander around the world
to see the fish, the fruits and the stars
I had never seen before.
But I took a trip to Europe
only in books and in pictures
I've never received a single letter
with a blue stamp postmarked in Asia.
Me and our neighborhood grocer,
we are both totally unknown in America.
But who cares!
From China to Spain, from the Cape of Good Hope to Alaska
In every sea mile and every kilometer I have friends and enemies.
Friends to whom I've never said Hello,
but we are willing to die for the same bread, the same freedom
and longing.
And enemies who thirst for my blood
as I thirst tor theirs.
My strength comes,
from not being alone in this big world.
The world and its people are neither the secrets of my heart
nor the enigmas of my learning.
Saving my head from exclamation and question marks,
I took my place
in the great struggle
freely and without worry.

If I am not in this place


just you and the earth
are not enough for me.
Although you are very beautiful
and the earth is warm and lovely.
48
3

I love my country –
I have swung on its plane trees,
I was locked up in its jails.
But nothing can take my blues away
like the songs and tobacco of my country.

My country –
Bedreddin, Sinan, Yunus Emre and Sakarya…
Lead covered domes and factory chimneys
are the work of my people; their laughter
under their droopy moustaches seems hidden even from themselves.

My country:
My country is vast –
wandering from place to place it seems endless.
Edirne, Izmir, Ulukışla, Maraş, Trabzon, Erzurum…
I know the highlands of Erzurum only from songs,
I am ashamed that I’ve never crossed the Taurus mountains,
to go southward
to meet the cotton pickers.

My country:
camels, trains, Ford cars, and sickly donkeys,
poplars
willows
and the red earth.

My country:
Pine forests and spring waters,
and the trout that loves the lakes in the mountains;
a one pounder, scaleless, silver-skinned with red specks
swims in Bolu’s lake Abant.

My country:
Goats in the plains of Ankara –
their long silky light brown hair glistening.
Oily big hazelnuts of Giresun.
49
Apples of Amasya with scented red cheeks,
olives
figs
melons
and bunches and bunches
of grapes of many colors
and then the black wooden plough
then the black oxen
then my hard-working, honest and brave people
who are ready to welcome everything
progressive, beautiful and good
with the joyful enthusiasm of children
half hungry, half full,
half-slave…

BITKILER IPEKLISINDEN

Plants from silken soft to bushy branching ones


animals from furry to scaly
houses from rough hair-tents to concrete buildings
machines from airplanes to electric shavers
and also the seas and the water in a glass
and the stars
and the sleeping mountains
and the human being mingled with everything everywhere
that's sweat on the brow
lies in the books
truth lies
friend foe
longing joy sorrow
I passed through the crowd
with the crowd that was passing through.

August 14, 1959

50
BEFORE THE TIME RUNS OUT, MY ROSE20

Before the time runs out, my rose,


before Paris is burned down and destroyed,
before the time runs out, my rose, and my heart is still on
its branch,
I, one night, one of these May nights,
holding you against the wall in Quai Voltaire,
must kiss you on the lips
then turning our faces toward Notre Dame we must gaze at its
rose window
my rose, suddenly you must embrace me, with fear, surprise
and happiness, sobbing silently,
the stars too must pour
mixed with a drizzling rain.
Before the time runs out, my rose,
before Paris is burned down and destroyed,
before the time runs out, my rose, and my heart is still on
its branch, In this night of May
we must pass by the quay
under the willows, my rose,
the weeping willows that are drenched.
I must tell you the most beautiful couple of words of Paris,
the loveliest and truest, then whistling some
airs
I must die of happiness
and we must have faith in human beings.

Up there stone houses


without ledges or recesses
stuck together
and their walls are all moonlight and their windows
straight up
are sleeping standing up
and on the shore across the Louvre bathed in floodlights
our crystal palace
illuminated for us.

Before the time runs out, my rose, Before Paris is burned and
20
Published in ÇN - Çeviri Edebiyatı - No. 9, 2009

51
destroyed,

before the time runs out, my rose,


and my heart is still on its branch,
in this night of May on the quay we must sit on the red barrels in front of the
warehouses. The canal across fades into darkness.
A barge is passing,
my rose, let’s say hello,
let’s say hello to the barge with the yellow cabin. Is she on her way to Belgium or
to Holland?
In the cabin door a woman with a white apron
is smiling sweetly.

Before the time runs out, my rose,


before Paris is burned down and destroyed, before the time runs out, my
rose...
People of Paris, people of Paris,
You mustn't let Paris be burned and destroyed...

HENUZ VAKIT VARKEN GULUM, May 13, 1958

TO ASIAN AND AFRICAN WRITERS21

My brothers and my sisters


never mind my blond hair
I am an Asian
never mind my blue eyes
I am an African
where I come from trees don't cast shadows down below
just like the ones you have
where I come from the bread is in the jaws of the lion
and the dragons lie in front of the fountains
where I come from people die before reaching
the age of fifty
just like where you come from
21
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

52
never mind my blond hair
I am an Asian
never mind my blue eyes
I am an African
eighty percent of my people are illiterate
poems wander from mouth to mouth turning into songs
poems can become banners where I come from
just like the ones where you come from
my brothers and my sisters
our poems yoked to the skinny ox should be able to till the land
our poems knee deep in mud should enter the rice fields
our poems should be able to ask all the questions
our poems should be able to gather all the lights
our poems like the milestones
should be able to stand at the crossroads
see the approaching enemy before anyone else
beat the tom-toms in the jungles
and until on this earth not a single slave country or slave
not a single atomic cloud remain
our poems should be able to give all they have
their minds, their souls and their lives
for the great freedom.

Asya-Africa Yazarlarina, January 22, 1962


Moscow

53
FROM THE EPIC OF THE NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE STRUGGLE

THE MULTITUDES

Those who are as numerous as ants in the earth,


fish in the sea,
and birds in the air;
who are cowardly,
brave,
ignorant,
learned,
and child-like;
those who destroy
and create,
only their adventures are in our book.
Those who, deceived by the temptations of the traitor,
drop to the ground the flags they were holding,
and leaving the enemy in the battlefield
run away home,
those who draw their swords against scores of renegades,
who laugh like a green tree,
cry without reason,
and curse mother and wife,
only their adventures are in our book.

Iron
coal
and sugar
and red copper
and textiles
and love, cruelty and life
and all the branches of industry
and the sky
and the desert
and the blue ocean
and the gloomy river beds
and the ploughed soil and the cities
their fate changes one morning at dawn,
at dawn when from the edge of darkness
54
they press their heavy hands against the earth
and rise.

They are the wisest mirrors


reflecting the most colorful shapes.
In our century they were the victors, they were the vanquished.
A great deal was said about them
and about them
it was said:
they have nothing to lose but their chains.

-Onlar

THE STORY OF BLACK SNAKE

We have seen fire and treason


We have endured
We have endured everywhere
We have endured in Izmir, Aydin
and Adana,
We have endured in Urfa, Maraş and Antep.

The people of Antep are sharpshooters,


they can shoot a flying crane right in the eye,
a running rabbit on its hind leg.
They stand on their Arab horses
slender and tall like young green cypresses.

Antep is a hot place


Antep is a tough place
The people of Antep are sharpshooters
The people of Antep are brave.

Black Snake
before he became Black Snake
was a farmhand in the Antep villages.
Perhaps he was contented, or not contented,

55
he had no time to think about such things.

Black Snake
before he become Black Snake
used to live like a field mouse
and was as cowardly as a field mouse.
Bravery is possible only with horses, guns and land.
He did not possess horses or guns or land.
His neck was as thin as a twig
his head was enormous.

When the enemy entered Antep


the people of Antep
brought him down
from the pistachio tree
that was hiding his fear.

They put a horse under him


and a Mauser rifle
in his hand.

Antep is a tough place.


On the red rocks
green lizards roam.
In the air hot clouds
drift forward and backward.

The enemy held the hills,


the enemy had guns.
The people of Antep were held up
in the flat plain.
The enemy was pouring shrapnel
the enemy was tearing the earth from its roots.
The enemy held the hills

The blood of Antep flew.


The shelter of Black Snake
before he became Black Snake
was a rose bush in the fields.
This bush was so tiny
but his fear and his head were enormous
56
he lay flat with his face down
without putting a bullet in his rifle's barrel.

Antep is a hot place


Antep is a tough place
The people of Antep, are sharpshooters.
The people of Antep are brave.
But the enemy had guns
The die was cast,
the people of Antep
would abandon the flat plain to the enemy.

Before he became "Black Snake"


Black Snake couldn't care less
if Antep was given to the enemy until doomsday,
They had never taught him to think.
He lived on earth like a field mouse,
and was as cowardly as a field mouse.

His shelter was a rose bush,


He was lying flat under the rosebush.
From behind a white rock
a black snake
showed its head.
Its skin was glistening
its eyes redder than fire,
its tongue fork-shaped.
Suddenly a bullet
came and hit its head
the snake fell over motionless.

Black Snake
before he became Black Snake
seeing the end of the black snake
shouted at the top of his voice
the first thought of his life
And said:
"Heed a lesson, my crazy heart,
if death finds the black snake behind the white rock,
it can find you too even if you hide in an iron trunk."

57
And when he who had been
as cowardly as a field mouse
ran and sprang forward
the people of Antep were aroused
they followed him.
They beat the enemy on the hills.
And to him who had lived like a field mouse,
who had been as cowardly as a field mouse
they gave the name BLACK SNAKE.

Black Snake said: "Let's have a war.


Let's bring the fallen heads from Kilis roads,
Let's finish up the enemy wherever he is,
Shoot brave ones, shoot on our day of honor..."

This is the story we have heard


and put in the first chapter of our epic
just as it was told to us;
About Black Snake
whose fame lasted for years as the leader of his band
and the people of Antep
and Antep.

Karayilan Hikayesi, 1918-1919

1922 THE MONTH OF AUGUST

OUR WOMEN

The oxcarts were moving under the moonlight


the oxcarts were going toward Afyon via Akşehir
the land seemed endless
the mountains were so far away,
it looked like the travelers
would never reach any place.

58
The oxcarts were moving with their solid oak wheels
and they
were the first wheels turning in the moonlight
Under the moonlight the oxen
were puny and short
as if they had come from a different tiny planet,
their sickly, broken horns twinkled
beneath their feet flowed
the earth,
the earth
and the earth.

The night was light and hot


and in the oxcarts the dark blue grenades
lay uncovered
And women
without letting each other know
were eyeing in the moonlight
the dead oxen and wheels left by the previous convoys
And women
our women:
with their terrible blessed hands
with their delicate small chins and enormous eyes
our mothers, our wives, our sweethearts
those who die as if they had never lived
and whose place at our table
comes after our oxen's,
those whom we abduct and then end up in prison,
those in wheat and tobacco fields,
in gathering wood and in markets
those harnessed to the black ploughs
those in stables
in the glimmer of shiny knives stuck in the ground
with their swaying heavy hips and cymbals
women belonging to us,
our women.

Now under the moonlight


following the oxcarts and cartridge boxes
they moved with the same lightness at heart
the same tired familiarity
59
as though they were pulling the amber spiked stalks
in the threshing fields
and inside the steel crates of shrapnel
scrawny-necked children were asleep
And the oxcarts under the moonlight
were going toward Afyon via Akşehir.

Kadinlarimiz

BLUE-EYED GIANT, TINY WOMAN AND HONEYSUCKLE22

He was a blue-eyed giant.


He loved a tiny woman
who dreamed of a tiny house.
A house with a garden
where many-colored honeysuckle
bloomed.

The giant loved as a giant loves.


His hands were meant
for gigantic tasks.
He could neither build the frame
nor ring the bell
of a house with a garden
where many-colored honeysuckle
bloomed.

He was a blue-eyed giant.


He loved a tiny woman.
The woman was very, very tiny.
She was hungry for a life of ease,
she'd worn herself out on the giant's grand path.
Saying goodbye to the blue-eyed giant,
she took the arm of a wealthy midget
and entered the house with a garden
22
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.

60
where many-colored honeysuckle
bloomed.

So now the blue-eyed giant can see


it cannot even be a tomb
for the great love of a giant,
that house with a garden
where many-colored honeysuckle
bloomed.

TO PAUL ROBESON23

They don't let us sing our songs, Robeson,


my songbird with the wings of an eagle,
my Black brother with the pearly smile,
they don't let us sing our songs.

They are afraid, Robeson,


afraid of the dawn,
afraid to see, to hear, to touch –
afraid to cry like the rain washing a naked body,
afraid to laugh like sinking one's teeth into a hard quince.
They are afraid to love, to love like Ferhad24
(surely you too must have a Ferhad, Robeson,
what is his name?)

They are afraid of the seed, of the earth


and of the running water
afraid to remember the hand of a friend,
asking no discount, no commission, no interest –
a hand that has never alighted
like a lively bird in the palms of their hands.
They are afraid of hope, Robeson, afraid of hope, hope!
They are afraid, my songbird with the wing of an eagle,
they are afraid of our songs, Robeson.

October 1949
23
Published in: Erhan Turgut (ed.) Nazim Hikmet. Editions Turquoise, Paris, September 2002.
24
A legendary lover in Turkish folklore

61
MY IDEA OF A SAILOR

Steel hand, iron wrist, strong arm


and piercing eyes,
A broad chest and a sharp salute.
All we need is the rolling seas...

Copper faced, hot-blooded, full of life,


A Turkish lad.
He's the peerless pearl of the seas.
That's my idea of a sailor.

December 3, 1914

TO MY UNCLE

You did not die


You did not die
You're still living
You will always live
In the heart of your country.

Dayima

TO MY MARTYRED UNCLE

My martyred uncle, don't lament


That you must be avenged

62
Be calm
Don't look at me and make me tremble
Yes, you will be avenged
You're the son of the martyrs
You will be avenged
You're the grandson of the Oguz.

Sehit Dayima

MY OWN UNCLE

My uncle! My uncle! He was a great hero


He was the one
Who made my Turkish breast swell with pride
He showed me great feats of heroism
Always teaching me about great sacrifices
Showing the proper way
And suggesting the greatness
Of giving your life
For your country

Benim Dayim,1915

TO MY COUNTRY

Ah my poor country
Why is she crying like this
Why because her children
Don't take good care of her

Son - If I don't take good care of you


I should not deserve to be a Turk
Look mother we're going
To die for the country
63
I'll go I'll die
I won't come back

Mother - Go my son go
Serve your country
Shed your blood
Give all that you have for her
Say goodbye to your betrothed, to your village
Say goodbye to all that you have

Son - Mother I am going


Give my regards to my father
Tell my beloved
Not to cry for me

Vatana, March 8, 1915

FOR MY MARTYRED UNCLE

The skies will reverberate


To avenge you
The seas will roar
To avenge you
My martyred uncle, don't lament
Be calm
Don't look at me like that
And make me tremble

Sehit Dayima Mabat

FOR MY MARTYRED UNCLE - 2

He was the one who showed me the meaning of the Orient


He was the one who taught me the arts of the Turks

64
That's why I love my uncle
In my heart I always keep
The highest respect for him.

June 1915

SAMIYE'S CAT

Her eyes were green like the seas


Her white fur a heap of snow
Her mouth adorned with mother-of-pearl teeth
Her amorous gaze touched our souls

When we loved her she fooled us and ran away


When we caressed her she showed her claws
She had the pride of a woman
Lies poured out of her kohl-blackened eyes

Samiye'nin Kedisi

THE YOUTH

To My Father

Cry over the tombstones of your friends


For four years they were dying everywhere
Today with their sacred sentiments
The pitiful youth tells you to shut up

Write with sorrow the elegy of those


Who spilled their blood at the front
Raise your voice in these years of grief
For those who spilled their blood at the front

Look at Anadolu without a sigh of lament


Awaiting faithfully its final hour

65
The road of the sky-high mountains
Is covered with the bones and souls of brothers

Go cry on those desolate roads today


For four years they kept dying all over
Today with their sacred sentiments
When they say shut up to you... Shout! Ah youth!

Genclik. Winter 1920,


Kadikoy

The air is like strained honey


I went out hunting in the afternoon
I fell in love with a gazelle
Gazelles have black eyes
But my gazelle has green eyes
I dragged myself after her
spitting blood
Across from me opened the gate of Paradise

1949

You'll lie under the sun all naked


with your green eyes
I'll bend over you
I'll look at you
as if I am watching
the most amazing event of the universe

You'll put your arms around my neck


Your weight full of life around my neck
I'll taste immortality
From your bright red mouth

66
1949

IN FIVE LINES

To be able to defeat the lies


from mothers' lullabies to the newscaster's words,
the lies in the heart, in the book, in the street,
to understand, my love, that wonderful happiness,
to understand what is gone and what is to come.

ILHAN, ATTILA25

Turkish poet, Novelist, Essayist and Newspaper Columnist

Attilȃ İlhan (1925-2005) can be described as a true son of the modern Turkish republic with a deeply
inquiring mind that made him both an admirer and a critic of the new society.

He was born in Menemen where his father was a district official. Menemen was near the beautiful,
cultural Aegean city of Izmir with a past going back to ancient times. İlhan attended the public schools in
the Izmir area. At age sixteen he had the unfortunate experience of being arrested for leftist activities as a
communist, and the three months spent in jail with hardened criminals affected him deeply. He was also
taken to Manisa mental hospital for examination. These experiences were painful, but his ability to write
poems was not diminished, as he was already a published poet at the age of sixteen. Moving to Istanbul
gave him a wider milieu of literary experiences and the opportunity to meet many writers and poets in the
cafés they frequented. In the 1950s and 1960s he went to Paris and stayed there for some periods of
time, gaining a new perspective in relation to attitudes about political and sexual behavior, as well as a
deeper knowledge of French literature. He was fascinated by different types of men and women he
encountered in the night life of Paris. They became the subjects of many of the poems he wrote in this
25
The introductory note, "time for work" and "teatime in emirgan" were published in TAS Review, Spring 2017.

67
period. He also wrote poems about his travels, giving vivid impressions of places and people he met
abroad.

A prolific writer, İlhan published several volumes of poetry 26, plus novels and essays. His deep
involvement in the transformation of Turkey into a modern republic after the national struggle (1919-1922)
was the main theme of many of his books of essays. He was deeply concerned about the changes of
values in a new society. Some of his books of essays are titled Which Sex; Which West; Which Left; and
Which Literature; giving an idea of his concerns about accepting some Western values without critical
evaluation. He had a very strong patriotic side and was a great admirer of “Gazi Mustafa Kemal” (Atatürk)
and wrote a poem with the title "mustafa kemal." 27

İlhan explained his philosophy and ideas about art and literature in his essays and in many interviews,
including one to Cumhuriyet Kitap (‘Book Review’, October 28, 2000) which sums up his ideas and
beliefs. In that interview he defined himself as a Marxist, but he was a libertarian socialist. He had well
defined ideas about the development of the new Turkish literature and was critical of some modernistic
movements such as the Garip poetry group founded by Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet Anday and Oktay Rifat.
His main criticism against Garip was their exclusion of lyricism and images in their poetry. İlhan was also
interested in a new synthesis that did not exclude the literature of the Ottoman past and gave a feeling of
classical poetry in a new social context.

An outstanding contributor to modern Turkish literature in the twentieth century, Attila İlhan was also an
innovator in the use of Turkish language, with an impressively deep and wide vocabulary including
Ottoman Turkish as well as folkloric elements. He was a poet following the tradition of poets deeply
involved in the search for freedom and the fight against tyranny like Namık Kemal (1840-1888), Tevfik
Fikret (1867-1915) and Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963). Nazim Hikmet commented on Attila İlhan's poetry by
saying that "duvar made me feel very happy. İlhan is a very noble and sincere poet."

Nilüfer Mizanoğlu Reddy

ANCIENT MARINE FOLK

we were fifteen over the


coffin
of the dead man
heave ho a bottle of rum
satan and drink
made us sink
heave ho a bottle of rum

over there a strange pebble chants


sea shepherds have driven their flocks into the open sea
mussels’ eyes have harlot’s blue pupils
in the boundless west green galleons of time
were sighted unforgettable and green
26
From about 1948 Attilâ İlhan chose generally not to use upper case letters and punctuation marks in his poems.

27
sisler bulvarı (foggy boulevard), OK Yayınları, 1970, pp. 138-139.

68
drenched in blood
in glittery splendor
you can hear the ancient marine folk
if you listen
in the kinky marine taverns
the kinky marine folk
spanish songs italian wine
and as if you were god you invent curses
from the fifteenth meridian
to the twentieth
by yourself
you invent international curses
and from the libra mast
you god of curses splashings unknown things
you god of lost treasures
you won’t look back nor spit to the wind
unless black sails are hoisted on the admiral’s own masts
chaste breezes will not kindle sparks
in your pirate’s eyes
unless you get used to
chewing the rain and the tobacco

I have not forgotten the mediterranean


I have plunged in the flames I cried with passion
the joy to create
and to be created reverberated in heavens
and the prayers opened like enormous sails
when one looked three crescents spread out all at once
hayrettin’s songs flew like falcons from his arms
windswept barefoot mariners of the algerian captain
were holding messina and septe straits and all the others
surrounding the caravans of ships
they burned them up
la-ilahe-il-allah
but your festivities your troubles will not be forsaken
by the stars in every constellation
and the lighthouses in every isthmus
then you would go to rome with hannibal

69
long before that phoenicians carried the alphabet and the glass
when dragons breathed sea monsters appeared
the ghost of a genoese galley slave in rhodes castle
his legs in shackles
the whiplash on his back
and latin songs pour forth
from the ships of antonius

you are
unforeseen unforgettable unbearable and deep
as roguish as a deckhand or the mustache of a sailor
the wind is blowing unconstrained from all sides
your centuries old pirate fate
is tattooed on your arms and on your boundless chests
angel-faced mermaids and slippery dolphins
in green and glittery speckles
so what you understand about this world
is the same what children understand
although time is getting older you are still a child
you are the ancient graveyard of pirates and sailors
you are the graveyard of hayrettin’s songs
with your majestic waves you are the big ocean’s
star studded multitudes of plankton life
skates and sea anemones
you are god and you contain countless other gods in your kingdom
the master skippers who ruled over the currents
some sailing north north-east some westward
there was a captain joy we buried him in the arctic sea
there was an andersen and a captain kidd
skippers salih reis burak reis memi reis
bursting in laughter together like canons in salvo
being tossed around and scattered
we died at a festival of giants
then the fish-garths in kushadasi and surmene
to be old and beautiful to defy memory to forget
all the stars but recognize the north star at one glance
then the italian fishermen with briny beards
then like in hell in tatters bit by bit
to enter a port where the fox spat copper
70
to go ashore feeling like the karakurum desert
and wretchedness of returning like a flood of wine
o my beloved times
the times when we sailed toward the south pole
from the terra del fuega
from the land of fire

turkçesi eski deniz halki. sisler bulvari, ss 19-23 ok yayinlari, 3. baski,1970

the notes of hamdi

“isn’t it a wonder that both the one who doesn’t know the world and the one who knows talk
about it.”
kefevî

1.
I have grown poisonous carnations
in the pots of my alienation
they had a peppery aroma
like a summer evening meal
on a rocky beach by the sea

what I saw was a bloody darkness


was I so wide open or was the world so narrow
the sorrow in me like a wild plant
was opening leaf by leaf
as the trees were diminishing for fall

2.
the mountains are hibernating
at a distance the wind caresses the trees
what passion whirls with the moths
in the dervish light of huge candles
in your eyes the enigmas of stars
in your mouth a jasmine stem

71
what are you musing about
with your rosary’s sparkling beads
as they roll on to the dark earth

the mountains are hibernating at a distance


the night is flawless with a copper moon
in an enchanted slumber the sounds of incesaz
the songs of bearded ottoman composers
played in hollow spaces
a world-weary
dainty hicazkâr
a frantic şataraban
and some nihavents that sparkle
like magic lamps

the enigma of when it began and when it ended


what passion whirls with these moths
in the dervish light of big candles
who knows where and when it started
who knows with whom
without saying wheat to say bread
without saying tree to say forest
to ascend to the gallows
at the crack of the dawn

3.
I gathered the sunlight
from the reflection of the leaves
I saved it in the lens of my glasses
to light my nights
it smelled like burning cloves

4.

with the weight of snow-blue fogs on their tops


pale poplars contain
the enormous sadness of autumn
in my soul the loneliness of water
water’s loneliness

72
suddenly from the electric cables
high voltage current like blood
comes to the city
in my soul the loneliness of water
water’s loneliness

no matter how much my age gets closer to death


isn’t it strange that
I also feel closer to my childhood
the swallows are alighting into my hands

5.
those are the plane trees of rugged lives
smoky and hazy they are found
in the magnificent western horizons
when you look at them at a distance
you can’t make out whether they are clouds or plane trees
as soon as they loom up their mysterious leaves
they vanish behind a sheet of rain

a song in my heart
the same one I sang
the day I was arrested

the birds abandon the woods


dragging behind
their chirping like a swarm of sparks
and the water lilies smile
in their dreamy whiteness
with heavy sighing

a song in my heart
the same one I sang
the day I was arrested

somehow girls loved in november


tend to be dainty and shy
in the reflection of the leaves perhaps
they seem to blush a lot
their eyelashes spray silver mists
water drips from their finger tips
73
their words dispersed by the winds
they are all alone in death

a song in my heart
the same one I sang
the day I was arrested

the weight of loneliness bears heavily on the rushes


because it cannot be stopped
only occasionally like a gilded thread
glisten the whistles of the invisible geese

6.
the seagull swoops down so quickly
its whiteness suspended
in the air

if it can’t catch the fish it kept an eye on


it struggles with hunger
in the water

7.
the icy brightness of the cold seas
where only erratic winds roam
and ghost ships whose crews are dead
seen through the icebergs
seem like silent fish
perhaps only the whistling of sails
and the albatrosses there

from the icy brightness of the cold seas


in the memories of the last fishermen with harpoons
are the old whales going down and coming up
with their exhausted sprays
shiny like silver fountains

in a way life is without before or after


in a way who knows how many autumns pile up on each other

8.
appearing in the deserted quiet of distant shores
74
with their refined elegance
secretly gloomy
silvery herons
like fine brooches
birds’ hearts are under strain
with worries like humans
they may be feeling the approaching the storm
they may be getting old
they may not be able to fly any more
the sky is forbidden to them

are these the sailing ships


that darken the west
or are they the piles of clouds
what are these fumes
whose heart’s hazes
which melancholy’s drizzles
they look like a thousand years of suffering
the moment they touch
the seas
the birds
and the trees

ah if I could see
if I could see the dolphins with their bubbly gaiety
how docile they are
how serene
they are farmers of hope
doggedly roam the dark oceans
night and day

as soon as I put my glasses on I see


that beach in büyükada where barefoot Trotsky strolled
he was sad as an extinguished volcano
he had a fishing rod in one hand
and a gun in the other
because he was exiled from his own revolution

9.
the night is an owl of cloudy feathers
its quills are all grounded glass
75
its gaze is a window
perched on my right shoulder
outspread and huge

if darkness seems devastating at first sight


sovereign of everything and everywhere
somewhere inside it
a kernel of light is growing secretly
that kernel contains the enlightened
forest of dialectics

BIRDS OF IMAGINATION28

the most frightening crimson ones hit the windows of my sleep


with pointed beaks shiny like the scales of fish

their loneliness is untamed their eyes are heavy maharajah eyes


their magnetic crests like a handful of sparks

their slender necks reach out to all kinds of daydreams you think
they’re the red velvet holders of purple hubble-bubbles

when they open their wings the clouds change their colors
in their complicated feet they wear cloven slippers of lightning

the echo of their horrible green screech narrows the horizons


their shrieks pierce the bloody palms of the tyrants

they’re the birds of imagination elusive turn into dust when touched
to exist in freedom only is their most unforgivable crime.

Tutuklunun Gűnlűğű, S. 45. Imgelem Kuşlari

28
Published in: Talat Sait Halman (ed.) Contemporary Turkish Literature. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,
1980

76
MEHMET SIRADAGLARI

if there’s a vacant stone in this land jam on top of it


heaving and restless like a factory
if there’s an empty fathom in this sea i am on top of it
foggy and smoky like a boat in february
i come out of the september mines blackened
i am the evening light at the school of economics
falling on the books respectfully through the rainwashed windows
of all the mehmets existing it is my name doubtless
from yunuz emre on I am mehmet siradağlari
because i listened to the earth understood the iron felt the coals
the drums beat up in the skies my invincibility in wars
because i was hit with many bullets and wounded in the name of god.
if i got up one mehmet i sat down a thousand mehmets
i brought the turk from asia to europe
volcanoes are jealous of my inextinguishable fires
every bayonet against imperialism is my name
from mustafa kemal on i am mehmet siradağlari
no matter how tight they were bound in my wrists
the bloody handcuffs enslaving me to myself are unshackled
the dark field is dizzy the factory is hungry
for some reason the last windows always face the prison yards
even if the sun is shining inside me outside is all winter
but the gates are wide open and the chains are broken
most majestic ideas are rousing the masses
every step toward a free socialism is my name
from nazim hikmet on i am mehmet siradağlari

Yasak sevişmek, 1961, p. 73

connectives

in the last few cool days of summer in september


one thinks of the arrival of fall on the horizon
like a ship with tattered sails

77
for some reason fall is the time to think of one’s own death
the covering of the dead body by yellowed leaves
like a photo of a forgotten fight in the magazines

1.
those are the girls
with tired eyelids
and blue pulses
they search an alla turca tune
with languorous fingers in the keys of a piano
their continence has a somber elegance
those are the girls who live
with the memory of an unlived love
they are like ghosts
abducted from a dream

2.
those are the eyes that are wild
and terrible with the redness of fires
with their dark eyelashes
they thicken a bloody love affair
they are not eyes
but sprays of bullets
shot by the barrel of a gun

those are the eyes that are


the flame of the lighter
the tip of the poisoned dagger
they stand like a ruby chandelier in our loneliness
wherever we go they find us
they come
and they find us

3.
those are the summers that rise
from the sea with a golden haze
like the songs of love
every day one melody fades away
from our memory
a secret wind scatters
the purple sands of the beach
78
those are the summers that
take the oleanders of abandoned gardens for a stroll
like shimmering candles
gliding in starlight

4.
those are the words that are bitter
crackling like iron whips
in the prison yards
those are the words at times
like a pomegranate tree in bloom
the light of the sea reflected
in a mountain’s horizon like mysterious knives

those are the words that are


the roses of fire
of an endless imagination
they are born and they die with the flutterings of butterflies
we carry those words in our hearts
like a loaded gun
until the day we die
for those words that we uttered once
we are prepared to die

“what I wrote and how you understood is a curious story.”

muallim naci

A SONG IN MY HEART

those are the plane trees of rugged lives smoky and hazy they are found

in the magnificent western horizons

when you look at them at a distance


79
you can't make out whether they are clouds or plane trees as soon as they 100m up with their
mysterious leaves they vanish behind a sheet of rain

a song in my heart

the same one I sang

the day I was arrested

the birds abandon the woods dragging behind

their chirping like a bunch of sparks and 'the water lilies smile

in their dreamy whiteness

with heavy sighs

a song in my heart

the same one I sang

the day I was arrested

somehow girls loved in November tend to be wary and delicate

in the reflection of the leaves perhaps they seem to blush a lot

their eyelashes spray silver mists

water drips from their finger tips

their words dispersed by the winds they are all alone in death

a song in my heart

the same one I sang

the day I was arrested

the weight of loneliness bear& heavily on the rushes because it cannot be stopped

only occasionally like a gilded thread ,-;- (, glisten the whistles of the invisible geese

BOYLE BIR SEVMEK'TEN gőzlüklü hamdi'nin notlari,5, ss 93-95, BILGI


YAYINLARI 1977-79

80
POEM WITH THE SOUND OF "CH" AS IN SELCHUK
(Kochaklama, Eulogy)

how many suns the selchuk shepherds


lift up with their pitch forks shouting heave ho
how many naked suns of spun glass
their iron beards igniting sparks
more tribes are coming from central asia
with twenty five hundred sixty five hundred tents
a poled dome pitched to perfection
to the shrieks of the avshars29 on the heights
underneath the crickets the black crows
cracked mountain holes full of eels
underneath konya bayshehir sivrihisar30
and far away the byzantine hyenas
more tribes are coming from central asia
they are light like a playful heart
their teeth are strong their eyes slanted a bit
in their ears no sound of the non-existing seas
in their palates the taste of the snow blue milk
freshly drawn from their robust mares and fragrant
a few elderly men of broken hopes
with bits of’ salt in the roots of their hair
their lips are sealed tight you can’t open with a knife
in their eye sockets constantly dwindling
a sandy river eaten up by the pebbles
with its dried up beds moaning in the wind

a long hoofed animal climbs up a tree


a lark touches with its glazed wings
the thorns like a scimitar thrown
oguz women with their strong faces
break up loneliness and turn it into dust
their breasts are full with nipples like blackberries

29
Avshar – the name of a Turcoman tribe in South Turkey and South Iran
30
Konya, Bayshehir and Sivrihisar – cities in central Anatolia

81
Their muscles are tightly bound to their bones
their voices full of forgiveness
they laugh out biting hard the sun
of tart pears quinces bitter oranges
they make a yogurt so thick even a knife can’t cut
a wild honey resting in their metal buckets

more tribes are coming from central asia


with their fishbone eyelashes and leather hats
men carved into hollows sword and mace
their exhaustion dripping into their hoary mustaches
their heaving while passing through the forests
is the same as the hungry axes they cut tree by tree
under a spreading crackling fire
their herds a dusty cry in front of them
pulled and carried away by the shepherd dogs
between the shimmerings of the poplar trees
perhaps from khorasan perhaps from the steppes of pamir
into the inlands of sakarya31 with flesh hoof and horns

welcome turk!... to your right and to your left water all over
your earth is trembling with a mad abundance
how much lead how much sulfur can you extract
your fingers draw wine if you stretch your hand
from the seeded grapes a vineyard full
a greenish olive oil is shining in many pots
the smell of the cottage cheese is for you to savor
many mountain goats are falling into your fire
drawing delicate crescents with their horns in the night
welcome turk... cloudy a bit dreamy perhaps
all your hopes are raised at once
you gave your name to this land and pledged your existence

TURKEY

31
Sakarya – a river in central Anatolia

82
turkey turkey your mountains are smoky
the land of grapes the land of tobacco
turkey turkey land of the patient suffering
much laughed and much cried people
your abundance foaming like a cloud from the earth
dawns grow up in your colossal mountains
all those rivers flow gurgling furiously
like a song running from the mountains to the seas
you’re my best man and my guide turkey
and your people your people o your people
i should kiss their purplish eyes honest eyes
my asiye is playful hatije’s dress is embroidered
my glorious zeynep you’re the only, one in forty villages
they shot shahan aged twenty at the head of the bridge
come fearless mahmut come sunny bilâl
the horses of my carriage go clop clop clop
here’s the black sea the boats anchored in the harbor
the lion the seas sun of navigation skipper kâmil reis
these people come from you and they go to you turkey
like the wheat scattered in the fields

you’re turkey my bread my salt turkey


you’re the pistol on my shoulder kerchief in my bosom
and the fresh cheese in my hair cloth saddle bag
sky colored milk carnation colored wine
copper like the setting sun anthracid and the deep green
forests letting their hair down in the wind
and the blond harvests across from the villages
sweet apple cantaloupe water melon mulberry and apricot
you’ve got the hazelnut the walnut and the almond
turkey the sweat of my brow the light of my eye

you’re turkey my home my village my hearth turkey


those war stricken towns of yours with the twin market places
mersin on the shore konya the song of the tableland
the rocky roads of adana starting out from marash
we arrived in urfa at the time of the evening prayers
o the tiny stones of bursa those tiny stones
the winters of ardahan freeze the shooting stars
there’s a bird in erzincan its silvery wing spangled
and my Istanbul the king of the cities
83
drawing its minarets into heavens like swords

turkey turkey turkey of the crescent and the star


you’re mehmet and your shoulders are Anatolian plateau
aladaǧ and toros mountains your giant torso
you’re the son of the martyr the father of the martyr
greetings to you from the world and from freedom

- Attila Ilhan, Duvar, page 63


-

teatime in emirgȃn

from the palace of çırağan to büyükdere


shivering in the autumn of old plane trees
reaching to where the secret evenings linger
almost at once listening to themselves
behind the lattices a woman with big eyes
wearing a hastily put on silk ferajeh
the loneliness of teatime beyond emirgȃn
the gilded tea glass warming up with a touch
nedim's hicazkȃr song echoes in totyos efendi
through the solitary voice of a young girl
the ramshackle wooden sea mansions in forsaken palaces
hanging down into the garden with worn out creepers
like the freezing birds dispersed over the bosphorus
the wind hauls a foggy rain
ships in istinye harbor in a dark slumber
with their broken masts lost and rickety
suddenly the fear of death comes over me
in an obscure namaz when selam is given
if it is a hint of gazali also a bit of mevlȃna too
under the dome the hummings of a divan
inside the dirtiest white colored ship şeref
hundreds of military students are going to exile

84
in the air a whiff of a hanged man
istanbul jȍntürks are mourning with death chants

echoes of worrisome nights of trouble from bebek


carried by ferries sailing nonstop
the most terror-struck autumn is in my eyes
from the more obscure armistice days
at what allaturca hour is the time for the second serving of fine tobacco
for colonel sadik bey's hookah
cooing like doves filling the fountains with joy
in the shadow of ottoman gallows
to be filled with bitter feelings in emirgȃn
like the long steeped tea in a dark samovar
with the melancholy of a hexagon-shaped old poem
written in the long forgotten diaries with keys

From Belȃ Çiceği (1962), pages 65-66

time for work

my sibling we have a song we sing together


it is sparkling like happiness deep like hope
in the evenings when we get together at the same table
it is remembered right away with no trouble
"you're like the rising sun in the dark seas"
on our table wine cheese bread and grapes
dead in their graves god in the sky all forgotten
the place becomes alive like in a dream

why should my poems sing of sorrows


I too know how to write a love poem
my heart is all eager my hair is blown by the wind

85
it can be excused after all it is the riddle of love
I have a sweetheart with twinkling blue eyes
she works at the factory from sunrise until the stars come out
she weaves both her life and the wool cloth
when she gets home her eyes close from tiredness
on our table wine cheese bread grapes
the world is all sunshine people quite happy
I too know how to write a love poem
my heart is full of love when it is drunk
I have a sweetheart with twinkling blue eyes
every night she goes to sleep early like birds
she weaves wool cloth in her dream she weaves her life

(duvar, 1948, pp. 78-79)

KADIR, A.

MY LIFE32

My father was the one to hear my voice first


On a sunny morning in July 1917
Then the folks in our neighborhood
came one by one crowding the room.
And then one late afternoon
they named me Kadir.

32
Published in: Talat Sait Halman (ed.) Contemporary Turkish Literature. Fairleigh Dickinson University Press,
1980

86
3

Our teacher in the neighborhood school


was called Mr. Sait.
I remember him well.
I think I was four and a half.
I met my first friends there.
I loved my elder brother there;
As he was crying,
there was something touching in his voice,
when the teacher gave him a eating
in the evening class once.

In my big wide world


people were always well fed and happy.
Large wheat fields were
always laughing in the wind.
The workers weaved a cloth of many colors
only for themselves
And freedom,
roamed the streets fearlessly
singing a folk song.

I watched the night sky through the bars


of a small window.
In the morning I wrote poems under the poplar tree
I chatted with the prisoners by the pond.
I had a wonderful life,

I felt light like a well lit room.


While the things were in such a state inside,
according to the rumors outside
I was executed quietly and without much fuss,
in the middle of the night.

87
1938, Ankara

NECATIGIL, BEHÇET

TIME SLIPPING

There are days when times are merged into one;


Past and future join in one segment.
As if we live for the first time yesterday’s experience,
Or what will happen in the future starts suddenly.

A change calls back from the past the first love:


Again the same fever.
Even though only a child, he feels with fullness.
The years of much later.

NOW swings like a pendulum,


Without harmony between yesterday and tomorrow;
Goes either too far ahead or stays too far back,
We can’t make it go right.

It was snowing in the middle of the cold night,


All of a sudden the May morning with warm breezes of dawn.
Just now it was winter, then July begins
And the summer season is lived as though it is autumn.

ZAMAN KAYMASI (YAZ DŐNEMI, 1963)

NEYZI, ALI

88
OLYMPUS COVE

It is the pebble voice of the sea


Sleepless going on and on -
You can hear it without listening,
Like the air around you it is always there.
The sea gives the voice of the pebbles,
Surely their green, purple, red and white
Colors were chosen by a Goddess.
Small and big – round and square,
Those coming to the shore can’t help playing with them.
This is the charm of the pebbles always stirring,
Hours go by before one collects the red ones.
On the one side the snow-topped hill of the Tahtalı,
On the other side the white haze of the Mediterranean.
In winter when the waves keep rising higher and higher
The pebble voice of the sea is filled with magic.
The goat-legged god descends from the Musa mountain,
Crying “Pan! Pan!” at the waves breaking
On the shore of the raging Mediterranean.
In the summer hot and oppressive
In winter vigorous and awesome
The Mediterranean in the cove of Olympus.

If you lived there you know it.

Çeralı, April 1988


(Cumhuriyet, 1976?)

OZANSOY, HALIT FAHRI (1891-1971)

IN CANDLELIGHT

As the world becomes dimmer outside,

89
We plunge into a dream in the pale candlelight.
Grandmas made their lace in this light,
This light caressed each strand of their white hairs.
Girls opened their eyes in this light,
This light created the mystery of the stars.
The fear of darkness was dispersed by this light,
Babies fell asleep in its glimmer so slight.

White veils on their heads jasmines in their bosoms,


Many young brides undressed in this light.
In the mirrors framed with mother-of-pearl ornaments,
Many more memories were reflected in this light;
Many faces of mothers many innocent smiles,
Also lips curled with sorrow resembling cryings...
This light is not a stranger to our souls,
Our splintered selves are intermingled with this light.
Let this light shine even if it is in one couplet only,
At least it would bring to mind Nedim’s poetry.
White veils would parade in front of our eyes,
We would think of the lips burning up the veils.
With our wrinkled foreheads reflected in the mirror,
We turn our thoughts to death in this pale candlelight.

RUMI, MEVLANA CELALEDIN

A POEM

I was born within the depths of eternal darkness


I saw the light, I was scared.
I cried.

In due time I came to know how to live in the light.


I saw the darkness, I was scared.

There were days when I sent my dear ones to eternal darkness.


I cried.

I came to know how to live.

90
That birth is the instant when the end of life starts;
I came know the space in between filled with the times stolen from death.

I came to know the time.


I raced against it.
But in due time I came to know that
You can make peace with it.

I came to know human beings.


Then among them there are good and bad ones…
And then there is good and evil in every human being.

I came to know how to love.


Then how to trust…
And then that trust is more lasting than love
And love is founded on the solid base of trust.

I came to know human flesh.


Then the soul’s existence under the flesh…
And then that the soul is superior to the flesh…

I came to know the universe.


Then the ways to illuminate the universe.
Finally that one had to illuminate one’s own environment first
To illuminate the universe.

I came to know bread


Then that to have peace you have to bake a lot of bread
And then that to share the bread fairly with people is
As important as producing a lot.

I came to know how to read.


Then I taught myself how to write…
Sometime later the written word taught me my own self.

I came to know how to go.


Then not being able to bear returning
And then to go again in spite of myself…

I came to know at a young age how to challenge the world all by myself.
Then I came upon the idea that you have to walk with the crowds.
91
And then I came to know that the real walk is to go against the crowds.

I came to know how to think.


Then how to think in established ways.
And then I came to know that solid thinking is to destroy the established ways.

At home I came to know the importance of honesty…


And then to expect honesty from the dispossessed is dishonesty;
The real honesty is when the sin is
Under your hand and you don’t touch it.

One day I came to know the truth…


And the truth is bitter…
Then bitterness in good measure adds flavor to both
Food and life

I came to know every living being will taste death


But only some will taste life.

I love my friends neither with my heart nor with my mind.


As it may happen…
The heart stops…
The mind forgets…
I love my friends with my soul.
The soul never stops or forgets.

TANPINAR, AHMED HAMDI

SHIP THAT IS ASLEEP AT THE PIER

Ship that is asleep at the pier


Do you remember the ocean,
The rough waves, the seaweed
And the roaring of the seas?

Let infinity call us

92
At the morning hour one day.
Let the ship raise its anchor at once,
Let a beautiful journey start.

Like the weathered sails


We would be alone with the ocean,
In the coolness of the dawn
We would go to sleep.

Ship that is asleep at the pier


Do you remember the ocean,
Those who left and never came back,
And the ones who are waiting in vain?

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Bűtűn Şiirleri, Dergah Yayinlari, 1976, page 37

EVERYTHING IS JUST RIGHT33

Everything is just right: the cypress tree by the pond,


A cupboard faraway is moaning nonstop;
Objects seem to be reflected from an enchanted sleep
Climbing vines and insect whirrings surround the house.

Everything is just right: the table, the jug and the glass.
In the light filtering through the branches
Time appears like a magic gazelle,
Silence is falling on the ground leaf by leaf.

I know you are asleep in the shade


That is deep and cool like a seaside cave;
Your eyelashes are tightly closed in a world of joy,
A smile on your face in this laden afternoon.

Perhaps these freshly opened roses are your dreams;


This tender light on top of the branches,
This eternal song in the cooing of the pigeons…
Since our life’s dream has passed into things.
33
Published in ÇN - Çeviri Edebiyatı, No. 10, 2010.

93
Everything is just right: a cupboard faraway
Is moaning nonstop like a tormented soul;
It may be remembering something of our adventure…
Dry autumn leaves are strewn in the wind.

Ahmet Hamdi Tanpinar, Bűtűn Şiirleri, Dergah Yayinlari, 1976, page 38

OĞUZ TANSEL

ON THE WAY TO SARIKIZ34

I can’t tell whether it was real or it was in a dream. Was it at Mount Ararat, or Mount
Olympus, or Mount Ida? It was a sunny day. Dawn’s myriad colors had covered the forest on the
plain near the peak of the mountain. A big, magnificent plane tree embraced the clouds in the
sky. Between the tree’s spreading branches and leaves which could provide shade for a whole
village, twitterings of the colorful birds made the pine trees and hornbeams quiver and rocked the
mountain to its foundation.

The magic of this scene of dazzling beauty created awesome yet lovingly fertile feelings in my
mind. The dawn was breaking and everything became discernible. At that moment the plashings
of water caressed my ears and poured into my being. I was almost awakened. At the foot of the
plane tree first three, then seven, then forty and then thousands of sources of light appeared.
Waters running around and under the plane tree were flowing in a riot of luminous colors as if
they were vying with the colors of the dawn; they formed a crimson lake. Blooming colored
rings from the springs were dazzlingly beautiful; a dynamic force had transformed the plane tree
into a world of dancing fairies in a circle of fire.

The water in this luminescent small lake was changing every minute. There were innumerable
shades of reds, blues and oranges from the lightest to the darkest. According to the mountain
villagers’ lore the fountain of life resided in one of these springs, but since its place and colors
changed all the time it was impossible to find its exact location. Those who had spent a lifetime
34
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

94
to find the fountain of life were not rewarded. For, the Queen of the Pigeons had not told anyone
in which month of the year and in which hour of the day this water could be found and imbibed.

I stood in the midst of a huge crowd of people. All eyes converged on the forty pigeons taking
off and swaying in the sky like clouds. Swooping down, they turned around the big plane tree
seven times. Flutterings of their wings made the forest quiver. The pigeons alighted on the shore
of the lake. They took their places, they shook themselves and became forty dazzlingly beautiful
maidens and dove into the water of a thousand colors. The last and most beautiful one was their
queen. As they were making the waters bubble and bloom, the shepherd who was looking for his
lost love arrived.

For a second I rested my eyes on the resplendent peaks of the mountain. White pigeons came
out of the water and dispersed like a frightened bevy of birds. In groups of threes and fives they
alighted on the bright peaks of the mountain. The mountain that was covered with thousands of
colored lights dissolved, became smaller and smaller, and turned into a lake covered with water
lilies.

MARKET PLACE35

Market day is the week’s favorite day:


The place is like a buzzing beehive,
Piles and piles in many colors in front of everyone,
Produce and goods melt like the snow.
It is a riot of colors – a festival of buying and selling.

The buyer of the opium gum, cutting deep with a knife,


Opens up a big gash in the wound.
He makes oodles and oodles of money,
Later on he brags cunningly.
Business runs as usual with a pack of lies
And this racket goes on for many years.

In this gold-guzzling market everything is for sale!


How many tired, cheated fathers with bleary eyes say,
“Market’s business cannot be reckoned beforehand”
They take to the road again, the market closes up.

35
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

95
God gives fortune to some people and sorrow to others.

THE QUAIL36

It is July, July again!


The mangy dog
Runs away from the meadow.
The skies scatter hell down below;
The cicada sings from the sheaves of grain
For the love-struck gleaner.
The hunter stops, the gun goes off,
Feathers flutter and fall;
Blood leads the way to the remains.
Men! May your hands be mangled,
Don’t play around with life!

Yasakmeyve Journal, September – October, 2008

THE IMMUTABLE LAW37

To die one day is the toughest law,


Despite all our suffering the joy of living lies in this.
The cruel struggle starts from the day we are born;
Even if we ignore it there is no escaping.

Death does not seem proper for creative people,


Before they complete and unify their work.
The hope turned into bitter poison makes the heart heavy;
Ceremonies are deceptive, crying is useless.

A tenebrous forest with no beginning or end.


36
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)
37
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

96
To perish without even getting used to swimming!
The dark ravine and the perennial knot –
Better to be cremated than turning into earth.

Metin used to say – throw my ashes into the waters


Of the Bosphorus. As for me, the queen of the winds
Can throw me into the bay from the top of Mt. Ida –
Then I can become a fish, a bird or a flower.

A lover can gather and save the ashes,


But a bird cannot perch on the marble.
There is no need for a woeful-voiced Hoja,
As for the firing a twig of oak is more than enough.

The soul cannot bear the prison of the grave!


To start his new life –
Iyemoğlu Oğuz Tansel chose this place where
His porphyroid rock cannot be dissolved by the sun and the rain.

I am fed up with all your lies…


Our beauties are drenched in blood!

NOMAD GIRL38

No help in sight, she takes to the road from Göktepe;


With fear in her eyes and her load on her back.
Her hair smells of the mountains, her hands of thyme;
She is carrying mastic to barter for bulghur and flour.

With her bent back she keeps moving on the roads,


Like a migrating bird – a little late.
My frightened doe, prayers are useless,
Heavens’ hands do not reach this place.

There is love in the highlands but no bread,


I long for the mountains, Mayku is on my mind.
38
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

97
Oh Mother! there is no end to troubles,
I fear the outlaw could show up on the road.

Nomad girl is wide awake but she dreams;


When the gurgly waters of Kızlarpınarı
Kiss her bleeding feet,
Her hunger and her tiredness would go away.

Nomad girl handpicked the mastic root by root.


“Here’s mastic for bulghur and flour!”
Mountains! Stop being so patient!
Let your power resound all over.

POPLAR TREE39

The first light greets your branches with reverence,


Your crest smiles beyond the horizon.
You hear the whisper of the winds leaf by leaf,
Sparrows full of love twitter above you.

Your sturdy presence sets an example for people,


Storks bring their tidings from lands faraway.
You endure summers and winters like the earth to be tilled,
Your bright world is so real - yet so different from ours.

You’re the ornament and pride of this world,


Your shadow sings scintillating airs of light to earth.
Purest and selfless of all loves,
The life of the toilers is close to your heart.

Your trunk is as strong as steel, poplar tree,


I feel like embracing you.
May each of you grow into thousands in our land,
All my best wishes to you with love.

39
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

98
WILLOW TREE40

How can one think of this land without you?


You are locked in an embrace with freedom,
Every passing axe gave you a thwack.
Your shade is longed for, but no one asks how you feel.

Sounds of moaning spring from your surroundings,


The plaintive soughing of your orphan branches.
Your shimmering leaves, all eyes scan the roads,
Strewn by hundreds and hundreds of ordeals.

You are my land’s true essence and ornament


The air is filled with your virile voice,
Your young branches are the blood debts,
Cascading in meadows and in wilderness.

You live in harmony with four seasons


Think how self-reliant you are,
Living without rancor, without quarrel,
Dripping into this world by golden drops.

OLEASTER TREE41

I salute you every morning with all my heart!


Adorned in the spring you’re stark naked in winter.
I think of you as a mother or a sister;
You seem like a beloved that touches me deeply.
I say you’re light-hearted and I envy you.
I am not fond of your place in our garden,
Yet deep inside me I feel our lives are inseparable.
Your yellow flowers blossom early;
You must be the neighbor of the prisoners.

40
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)
41
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

99
Your leaves are embellished with songs of longing,
Your branches converse with the stars,
Your roots are deeply buried in mysterious dreams.
Why don’t you talk with us?
With your lively and mighty presence,
You make me think of someone all the time.
Oleaster tree, do you have feelings of premonition?
Do you know how to live freely?

100
AWAKENING42
The earth is overflowing with maternal feelings
The joy of living leaf by leaf
The birds, the buds are awakening
In the midst of fragrance of almond flowers

The desire to live is the laughter in the air


The joy of living leaf by leaf
I can see the sap running in branches
Nature is blessed with pleasure

A loving mothersky – glittering


With vibrating, quivering hues
The joy of living leaf by leaf
To be immersed in this sea of colors

Everything is creating itself


Hope is a green smile in the flesh
All my thoughts are pleasant
I can embrace all humanity

THE IMAGINARY JOURNEY

THE VILLAGE43

It was one of those nights


A man lost his sleep
But one can dream even awake
First the man turned inwards
He left his body on the bed
He set off with his spirit
The doors opened quietly

42
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)
43
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

101
The stairs did not creak
He took a walk in the garden
He found himself by the beehives
Inside they were like cafes with music
He was amazed at this set-up
The leaves of the almond tree smiled
A rooster crowed shaking the night
It was the work-call of the village
To wake people up house by house
Was just the job needed
He appeared in front of a house
He glided in – the place
Was in a sleep of death
All the rooms were locked up
This house and the whole village were alike
Only the dogs were awake
Villages were like the houses of the dead

THE MEADOW44

II

He went by all the houses and villages


He didn’t skip a single road
He came across a camel caravan
He became a fly and sat on the saddle
They crossed over the meadows and mountains
Passed by huge hornbeeches in Kızlarpınarı
“My camel is high, I couldn’t come down”
In the Sűlek meadow at Gőktepe
Snow water ran like thunder
Yet all that wasn’t good enough
The camels were mad at the camel driver
Because he made a donkey guide them
In Dipsizgől the sun set again

44
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012) with the title "The
Highland"

102
The years of his youth reappeared
The terebinth tree he saw in Gőktepe
With branches piled upon each other
Topçiçek flowers were the lake’s necklace
In the evening their colors kept changing
He picked a large red one
To offer to his beloved
A thyme-perfumed moon saturated the mountains
The milk sky changed into deep blue
The stars crowned the Geyik mountain
Nomads came down to wash in the lake
He visited all the camps and the tents
The legends about the lake were puzzling
People of the meadows were distraught
Let’s send our warmest greetings to Karacaoǧlan

THE CITY45

III

He mounted the road as if it were a horse


Instantly he found himself in the city
He wandered around for a while
He became a trader then a peddler
He counted his money jingling the coins
He became a worker in a factory
This was hard to bear
He took to drinking and gambling
Then he became an automatic gun
He was hung on the police quarters’ wall
It was terrible to become a gun
Out of the blue one day
They made him take a trip
He couldn’t believe his eyes
They made him fight in a war
He didn’t shoot to kill
He was wounded and sent back
45
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

103
He found himself in a big city
With the passion of a soldier returned from war
He kissed the lips of his beloved
Things got messed up again
His outer shape had followed him
He looked for a job to get by
The fight to earn a living began
He listened to inane speeches
He petitioned on every occasion
Everywhere he got a pat on his back
Because he was a hero now

PIGEONS46

A sunny February day at noon.


The sky -- a big Seljuk ceramic,
The roof tiles are about to flare.
A sunny joy in their wings,
Their snuggly necks,
The force of their lines in flocking together.
Make people wonder.
My hands are drifting.
Your eyes are the essence of darkness,
Your face is the color of the earth;
You are always on my mind.

OUR FORGOTTEN RULE47

We have become less hardy than the plants


Our lives are shorter than those of the trees
We are not as numerous as the birds
Yet if we hold hands we would be stronger

46
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)
47
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

104
With all the fire in our hearts
To become like glowing embers
To love mankind and the world with passion
To create once more and to find love again
Our forgotten rule
Here’s the earth – here’s humanity
Let’s talk about them

KINDAM
- Dazzling Beauty –
KINDAM - I
Dazzling Beauty – I48

At the beginning before the universe found its form in infinity


It was a nebulous mass – Dazzling Beauty half asleep, half awake
Was a seamless whole – raging, red-hot and lively.
Suns, stars, moons were almost non-existent.
A luminous cloud: the space was bustling with movement;
Colors and seasons were reveling in unity,
The struggle for form was in the essence of motion.
Billions of light years passed by in a fiery chaos,
Blasts with desire, pileups with joy…
After a long interval the mighty sun took its place;
In one of those firsts the beautiful earth was born.
The clouds carrying the seeds of love tumbled and flew,
The Zodiac was formed – each planet found its orbit;
Brilliant days and tarblack nights came long after;
Much later space produced water from its essence,
And beautiful cumulous clouds with lightnings of longing.
Finally the laws of the universe unraveled the knots.
Magnificent mountains and turbulent waters converged happily.
The marriage of plants and animals was legendary.
Dazzling Beauty leavened the senses and love, then came intelligence.

48
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in Oğuz
Tansel, At the Dawn of Oleander Blossoms; Poems on Antalya Environs (Antalya: Research Institute of
Mediterranean Civilizations, 2011).

105
In the month of July we walked from the Dipsizgől49 enthralled
Accompanied by Dazzling Beauty.

KINDAM IX
Dazzling Beauty – IX50

The splendor of the heart’s solitary road.


My mountain flower, your eyes are on henna-colored stones,
Your hand is warm, your heart is tireless.
The stone you found in the river bed
Made the partridge and veronica talk.
A cloud embraces the lake,
Sultanmunar is the mountain of legends;
Snow waters caress the echoes of Dazzling Beauty.
I will jump to join Dazzling Beauty…
Yes, my waterlily, right now…

The first summer of Gűldaǧı in July;


This memory blooms in every loving heart.

KINDAM X
Dazzling Beauty – X (Full Gallop)51

Glancing at each other in starlight,


Futile, cursory encounters…
Darkness covered the opening window,
Ghastly boredom burned in a pile of ashes,
Swindler’s malice darkened all.
49
Bottomless lake
50
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in Oğuz
Tansel, At the Dawn of Oleander Blossoms; Poems on Antalya Environs (Antalya: Research Institute of
Mediterranean Civilizations, 2011).
51
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in Oğuz
Tansel, At the Dawn of Oleander Blossoms; Poems on Antalya Environs (Antalya: Research Institute of
Mediterranean Civilizations, 2011).

106
The main issue is the struggle for selfhood.
My slumbers are smeared with a bilious poison,
Ambivalence grows deeper and wider.
Fear devours one’s confidence,
A star lights up, then it is extinguished.

Vanity damages honor,


Empty praises turn people into slaves.
I could not forget the mansion that went up in flames…
Ardent feelings coming from the heart,
Have nursed my mind and kept it young.

This mortal road has no return,


The fire of the touching lips…
Sunshine after the rains is at hand.
The knot of friendship cannot be cut,
Let happy stars keep coming down like rain.

KINDAM XI
Dazzling Beauty - XI52

Heavy fog envelops the meadow;


My cumulus cloud is right on my mind.
Waiting is like a burning knife…
Sweet night’s light has vanished,
But your existence in everything is endless.
Come with a song - let’s brighten the night.

You become so close when I dream about you -


Embrace this soul, burn the seas.
Afternoon sun is like a chilly rose…
52
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in Oğuz
Tansel, At the Dawn of Oleander Blossoms; Poems on Antalya Environs (Antalya: Research Institute of
Mediterranean Civilizations, 2011).

107
My meadow-flower with carnation tresses,
Let’s share this deadly loneliness.

To wait and wait – light years are infinite…


Your arrival is a moment of lightning,
I have to combine the two as one in my palm.
We could pick sea urchins in the coves.
My meadow-flower should be here any minute…
The heart is the hardest yet most humane.

KINDAM XII
Dazzling Beauty – XII53

Nostalgic gaze colored the night,


Time is short, love is forgotten;
Only your fire embraces the meadow
The sea becomes godlike as it gets bluer,
And the universe changes accordingly.
Come on, say don’t drink, don’t demean yourself.

If you lose your sleep my dove,


Even if a pill can help you
Take a dreamlike trip, create beauty.
Curse the thief, the ill-omened and their ancestors.
How can loveless heart endure?
Keep producing, love till the day you die.

When people are unhappy, don’t hem and haw;


Running away from the struggle and the battle line,
To find solace in one’s offspring and possessions
Is the wasteland that would deepen the void.
Your unraveling remoteness is getting closer,
My eye’s dream puts it right next to me.

53
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in Oğuz
Tansel, At the Dawn of Oleander Blossoms; Poems on Antalya Environs (Antalya: Research Institute of
Mediterranean Civilizations, 2011).

108
UNIVERSE OF DAZZLING BEAUTY54

In this matter reason’s wing is stunted.


Ignorant ones look for the owner of the UNIVERSE
But imagination is not enough to grasp it;
The heart stops, the will freezes up.
My beautiful star is a blue bead out there…

Essence in motion without a beginning or an end


Makes this great life or takes it away.
Soul is a ball of tangled threads,
Brotherhood and fear are hard riddles.
Sun-winged god of complexity…

The greatest virtues are friendship and love


A person’s heart is the fiery abode of the real.
The sap, the result of billions of years of work,
Is the thing that gives life or takes it away.
This never-ending time has the wings of wind,
We think it comes to a stop at happiness…

Who gave birth to it? Is it us or the UNIVERSE?


Being born and giving birth are both in the same game;
The brain has germinated in the belly of the space
This eternal and unconquerable BRIDE…

BLUE SKY55

In a forest at midday
My hands are swimming towards the sun.
I abandon myself to a cloudlike flower,
At the point where weight becomes nil.
The fire in the veins becomes like threads and wires,
54
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in Oğuz
Tansel, At the Dawn of Oleander Blossoms; Poems on Antalya Environs (Antalya: Research Institute of
Mediterranean Civilizations, 2011).
55
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

109
The lids of almond eyes are hennaed,
The meaningful, earth piercing, spearlike gaze,
Burns my hand in the black mulberry-tinted thicket.
The boat is tied by an invisible rope,
True love triumphs over death.

I wake up from a tale-like dream,


The peaceful joy is reflected in the eyes.
I have already forgotten the first light of the dawn;
Sweet hillocks like the flesh of the babies,
The rosy branch - the ground piled with leaves.
Our boat is tied to the North Star,
My steady hands are in the blue sky.
I am encircled by water - the sun over my head
Makes the July crocuses and violets shimmer,
Turning them into fireproof garments.

DIFFICULT LONGING56
They say sleep is the minor death,
You can have the sweetest!
Years can be multiplied,
A fountain with poison sweeter than honey.

Motion is the universal law;


You can have the inertia!
Every goodness and beauty
Exists because of our hands.

Hey, anemic ones! apartments, houses,


Possessions, furniture in rows;
You can have them all—
The earth and the air are enough for us.

What matters for us only


Is the work made by our sweat.
It is more than enough for us;
56
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012), with the title "Painful
Longing"

110
In the spring every place throbs with life.

Peace-loving, brotherly earth,


To live under the wing of love,
Our bread is sweeter than honey,
Our freedom is in the air ...

DERVISH MUSA57

If the four books mean anything


then what you think for yourself
think the same for the other

I.

Hacı Bektaş is my noble ancestor


The son of Hasan Gazi and Hacım Sultan,
The comrade of Geyikli Baba,
Eternal wandering Dervish Musa,
With a knack for transforming
Himself into a gazelle.
He hunts Gaygusuz,
The son of Alaiyye Bey,
And puts the arrowed soul in his eye socket
In Toros mountains the day is breaking.

II.

Our embers of love won’t turn into ashes


They burn in the hearth of Dervishes.
Mountains are the shrines of freedom,
Snowdrops give tidings of the summer.
In the four books that enlighten
Yunus, Hatâi and Pirsultan
Laid down in their verses,
The fundamentals of the human law
That endures forever:
57
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

111
Keep the hands clean, guard the language, resist the temptations of the flesh.

III.

Believers live brave lives


Selfish, possessive, show offs,
Snobbish, intolerant, arrogant
Ones are the evil ones.
I hold the seven seas in my palms.
We didn’t come from fire or water,
We accept everyone as equal
We value each creature as such .
Rancor and damning aren’t our business
The universe was created with love.

IV.

Two sages in Almalı


Both burn and burn the tongue.
Nomads would defend and die for
The rules of their holy hearth.
The mirror and the reflections in it
Become one in true love.
Even if we are handless and tongueless
We live in the path of righteousness.
Freedom’s banner cannot be destroyed,
Its eternal light goes on and on.

THE MIDDLE EAST: A VOLCANO58

Orders inflaming the deliriums,


With your hundred thousand
Treasons – our lesson is to triumph.
Angels of death in black veils
Their stars washed-out in the halo of the moon.
You planted mines in my soul,
58
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

112
You bragged about your bloody rivers.
Nature is seething with disgust.
You brought on avalanches
With your hundred thousand.

Moons bathing in the waters of the sun.


Can poison turn into honey?
The feasts and weddings were shared,
The songs were shared;
You changed the ways.
With your wretched black veils
You brought on avalanches
With your hundred thousand.

Grandchildren of Adam and Eve


Are turning one by one
The dirge-written pages of history;
The progeny of victorious martyrs.
Can poison turn into honey?
Those homes and those hearts are mine.
You brought on avalanches
With your hundred thousand.

The goats destroyed the saplings,


Our history became arid.
The horizon is about to brighten up.
Come on shepherd play your flute,
Let our hands blossom.

My Memets cannot go back to their kids


Villages were erased from the map.
An avalanche fell into their lives,
But one day it will also fall on the guns.
Come on shepherd play your flute,
Let our hands blossom.

NO TO WAR59

59
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012). Also published in ÇN -
Çeviri Edebiyatı, September 2007, Volume 1, No. 4.

113
People shut within the walls of torment
Cannot think of freedom with empty stomachs.
Pigeons’ wings in their eyes,
Spread out their dreamy antennas;
They start being aware of themselves.
One day the roads become illuminated,
Suddenly the black walls come tumbling down;
Every living creature takes its place.
When the toiling hands desire,
When the hearts are filled with love
Peace becomes the writing in the sky.
The whole world should be at peace,
Friendly both at birth and at death.
The noble rule of our lives:
Peace, Love Peace, Love Peace…

THE NIGHT OF HOPE60

The capital was in deep sleep,


A whistle made the night shudder.
We have to climb way over the mountains,
Let’s not lose our freedom;
Sunny plains, golden orchards
To dream about a peaceful life.
Let our days take wing,
Flowing river cannot be stopped.
The dawn is about to break
Hope is the sun that never sets
The light of our eyes – the toil of our hands
Are beckoning people to life.

60
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

114
RESPECT FOR REASON61

Today must be a real holiday


Reason has attained new heights
In blueness we have reached the moon.
Our intelligence will lead us to stars too.
The controversial field of space
Was thought to be surreal in tales!
The blood sucking mistletoe plants
That are against humanity
Futile ruses and foolery
Can be subdued by peace and friendship.
Their fake customs become tradition
That turns the universe into hell;
But one day the eyes would open
And something more beautiful than heaven could be created.

The great rule is: we are in the race for peace


Every living creature will join our fight.
We'll rejoice that we were born into this world
Believing in peace and love will not be penalized
This system of lies will be abolished
Friends, we’ll be drunk with happiness.
My heart is bursting with joy !
When the dreams come true we’ll kiss the stars,
Civilization’s light will be shared by all.
We must play our part in this universe
Humanity can solve this riddle
I am in this blossoming merriment.

GOSSIP62

Two women are chatting

61
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)
62
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

115
Their heads with the branches,
Their feet with the roads.
Two women are chatting;
This is a lived memory,
A song chanted for waters,
Two women arm in arm.

THE POOL63

The dried-up pool in the garden;


It is as deep as it can be.
A mirror held to the sky;
It is as wide as it can be.
During the day it is only a drop,
But at night it is an ocean.

NATIVES OF THE NEW WORLD64

To Asturias

I.

In the beginning the world was dark, covered with tar-like clouds.
The sun created colored birds of unique brilliance
Everything their beaks touched became shiny.
The universe was teeming with an active, lively spirit.
The sun rose to embrace the dark-haired Water Nymph.
Time moved in infinity, the world evolved,
Love gave birth to plants, trees, birds and all the living.
Queen of the Eternal Land, Dazzling Beauty,
Loving, warm, dark-skinned, star-haired, with brown eyes.
63
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)
64
Published in Oğuz Tansel, Masal Dünyası - World of Tales (Ankara: Elips Kitap, 2012)

116
II.

In the depths of blueness sorceries and legends were born


Magnificent forests of deep ocean greenness shot up.
We are the red-skinned, Iroquois, Aztecs and Peruvians…
When we first stood up we became conscious of ourselves
Our creative hands went up as we walked joyously.
An abundant primeval force nursed our marvelous unity.
The ancestor of life, The Tree, was the source of myriad fruits,
“Eternal Land” reaching to the stars was our dream.
There no evil, no aging, no death existed.
The Queen of Eternal Land, Dazzling Beauty,
Loving, warm, dark-skinned, star-haired, with brown eyes.

III.

Blue pigeons with loving wings ducked down in the mountain lake
We sang our song of the universe together with birds and monkeys
Delight was ours, coral-eyed rivers were thinly veiled.
Our first belief was unity: order was laid down in clan meetings
Love buds of the bridal houses illuminated them.
Queen of the Eternal Land, Dazzling Beauty,
Loving, warm, dark-skinned, star-haired, with brown eyes.

IV.

A unique civilization was built with loving hands.


But one day eighty rogues arrived with flags and the Bible
Those riff-raff destroyed our dream of the Eternal Land.
Women departed - the Amazon lost its magic,
Its many colored birds, its blue and white delights.
They stole our ornamental stones and our precious lives.
We won’t inscribe the names of these damned monsters
The raids of these uncouth thieves in the New World did not stop
Eleven ships with horses, dogs and four hundred ballasts arrived.
We should have broken their legs when they landed in Tombez
On October eleven the place where they had landed was a shambles.
Wild band of plunderers – the shame of the West
They strangled the native sons of this land
For gold, for pearls, not sparing even
117
Those who paid a ransom.
The savages continued their massacre until recently
Those treacherous tyrants of Europe.
Queen of the Eternal Land, Dazzling Beauty,
Loving, warm, dark-skinned, star-haired, with brown eyes.

V.

This country surrounded by big oceans was prosperous


The land was rich, women were loved and were fertile.
The peoples who created their Aztec and Maya civilizations
Were struggling only against nature before the white devils came
They had to fight with lances and arrows against rifles and cannon.
Their villages were destroyed, razed to the ground.
The devils put their dogs on people to make them obey
Rivers of blood ran, they didn’t even spare the women
They massacred 20,000,000 without pity.
Queen of the Eternal Land, Dazzling Beauty,
Loving, warm, dark-skinned, star-haired, with brown eyes.

VI.
The outsider chased the insider out!
All those native people whose quest was the Eternal Land.
Africans who were snatched from their continent
Died working in the mines without food or water
The colonizers’ robbing, massacres and “civilizing mission”
Continued this shameful, parasitic, decadent state
And turned into a giant monster in sheep’s clothing,
In Korea, in Vietnam, selling fake freedoms.
But in the space age those oppressed by parasites will free themselves
Suns of Freedom are born from the oceans of people.
Queen of the Eternal Land, Dazzling Beauty,
Loving, warm, dark-skinned, star-haired, with brown eyes.

BLUE SEA

In a forest at midday
My hands are swimming towards the sun.

118
I abandon myself to a cloudlike flower,
At the point where weight becomes nil.
The fire in the veins becomes like threads and wires,
The lids of the almond eyes are hennaed,
The meaningful, earth piercing, spearlike gaze,
Burns my hand in the black mulberry-tinted thicket.
The boat is tied by an invisible rope,
True love triumphs over death.

I wake up from a talelike dream,


The peaceful joy is reflected in the eyes.
I have already forgotten the first light of the dawn;
Sweet hillocks like the flesh of the babies,
The rosy branch - the ground piled with leaves.
Our boat is tied to the North Star,
My steady hands are in the blue sea.
I am encircled by water - the sun over my head
Makes the July crocuses and violets shimmer,
Turning them into fireproof garments.
(Daği Őpmeler, page 63)

DEAR LIFE

Mountain’s skirts are about to brighten,


But their peaks are still dark.
Mothers give birth to children;
May they grow up to be brave.
At whom were the dead cross?
This oil-painted ship will not sink.
Some people may find buried treasure
But where would this tailless kite land?
Life is very sweet in this world,
Even one is made to drink its poison.

119
TURAN, Omer

mother’s house

this house
I have entered with the rain after so many years
is far from the days of merrymaking and cranky
the memory of colors was erased from the furniture
the kitchen has become the most chilled
for hungering for the doings of the world…

for fifteen long years in this house


there were no rushed evening preparations
the rooms were stifled in a deepening silence
in the stopped heart of the calendar with the hours of prayers
the date is June thirteen…

I turned my face away from the mirror


time remained pitch black in the courtyard…

in a black photograph
a white voice
the sad state of the furniture shows
how silk leaves traces
as it fades away
I crossed the corridor with soundless steps
this house is a desolate forest from one end to the other…

everything
must have gone through
the farewell that is called life
I walked out of the door silently…

VELI, ORHAN

120
FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOSTALGIC FOR THE SEA

Ships pass in my dreams,


Decorated ships over the roofs.
And me, ah! poor me
I’ve been missing the sea for ages,
I look and look and cry.

I remember my first look at the world


Through the opening of a clam shell,
Seeing the greenness of the water, the blueness of the sky
And the most iridescent wrasse.
My blood still runs salty
From the place where the oyster shell had cut.
It was such a crazy trip
In the open sea among the white foams!
The foams look like lips
Their adultery with humans
Is not wicked.

Ships pass in my dreams,


Decorated ships over the roofs.
And, me ah! poor me
I’ve been missing the sea for ages,
I look and look and cry.

Orhan Veli, Būtūn Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, page 180

THE FIRST MORNINGS OF THE SPRING

I feel lighter than a feather in such mornings;


Right across from here a patch of sunshine on the roof,
Inside me chirpings of birds and tunes.
I take to the roads shouting with joy;
My head spins in the air.

I think my days will always go well


If every morning is spring like this;

121
I neither think of my work nor of my poverty
I say let the troubles come to an end.

I feel contented with my poetry,


I am happy.

Orhan Veli, Būtūn Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, page 208

IN BETWEEN

We have seas bathed in sunshine,


We have trees full of leaves.
Mornings and evenings we come and go
Between our seas and our trees
Carrying our poverty.

Orhan Veli, Būtūn Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, page 175

SOME DAYS

There are some days I take myself off


Amid the smells of nets just drawn from the sea,
I hop from island to island
On the trail of shearwaters.

There are worlds you can’t even imagine


Where flowers open with a noise
And the vapor from the ground rises in gurgles.

Ah, the seagulls, especially those seagulls


Each and every feather they have flutter differently.

There are some days all blue around my head


There are some days all sunshine
There are some days just plain crazy.

Orhan Veli, Būtūn Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, page 195

122
TOWARD FREEDOM

Before sunrise you’ll set out


When the sea is all white
With the passion of holding the oars in your palms
And the joy of doing a job,
You will go!
You will go over the waves made by trawler nets.
Fish will come on the way greeting you;
You will be happy
As you shake the nets.
The sea will pour out of your hands glittering.
When the souls of the seagulls are at rest
In their graves on the rocks.
Then all of a sudden
A big commotion will shake the horizon:
Could that be the mermaids, or the birds?
Could that be holidays, festivals or merrymaking?
Could that be wedding processions, bridal adornments or fireworks?

Hey!
What are you waiting for? Jump into the sea.
Never mind if someone is waiting for you.
Can’t you see it is freedom everywhere…
Become the sail, the rudder, the fish and the water
Go as far as you can go.

Orhan Veli, Būtūn Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, page 201

I OPEN MYSELF TO THE WINDS

How nice my God, how nice


To sail in blueness
To go away from the shore
Unrestrained like thoughts.
I would open my sails to the winds

123
I would travel from seas to seas
And one morning I would find myself
All alone in a harbor.

A big and white harbor


In coral islands.
Let the summer arrive with golden light
Behind the white clouds.

The heavy smell of wild olives


Would penetrate into my being.
This island far away from the whole world
Cannot know the taste of sorrow.

Let the sparrows perch on the flowery roof


Of my mansion of dreams,
Let the nights end with colors
And the days pass in pomegranate gardens.

Every day I could see the passing


Of slow boats at a distance,
And every evening on the horizon
Marmoreal islands all lined up.

How nice my God, how nice!


To go across countries, lakes and continents;
How nice to travel from seas to seas
Unrestrained like thoughts.

I would let myself go all day


Like a sailboat to the open sea
For a moment like birds I would believe
In the beauty of a vagabond life.

Orhan Veli, Būtūn Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, page 36

LISTENING TO ISTANBUL

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.


At first there is a light wind;

124
The leaves on the trees
Are gently swaying.
And far, faraway
The endless jingling of the water-sellers’ bells,
I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.


High above the birds are flying,
Flocks after flocks shrieking loudly.
In fish traps the nets are drawn;
A woman’s foot touches the water.
I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.


Delightfully cool Covered Bazaar,
Busy, lively Mahmut Pasha,
Courtyards teeming with pigeons,
Sounds of hammering coming from the docks.
Smell of sweat in the lovely spring breeze.
I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.


Drunk with its old time memories,
A seaside mansion with gloomy boathouses,
Amid the humming of waning south winds,
I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.


A sexy girl is passing by on the sidewalk –
Curses songs ditties taunts…
Something in her hand falls to the ground
It must be a rose.
I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.


Round the edges of your skirt a twittering bird;
I know if your brow is hot or cold,
I know if your lips are moist or dry.
I can sense that from the beatings of your heart.
A pale moon is rising behind the umbrella pines;
125
I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

Orhan Veli, Bűtűn Şiirleri. Varlık Yayınları, 1973, pp. 198-200

SUDDENLY

Everything happened suddenly.


Daylight hit the earth suddenly;
The sky became sky,
And blue-colored suddenly.
Everything happened suddenly.
Vapor rose from the earth suddenly;
Shoots, buds and fruits
Happened suddenly.

Suddenly,
Suddenly,
Everything happened suddenly.
The boy and the girl;
Roads, fields, cats and people…
Love happened suddenly.
Happiness suddenly.

Orhan Veli, Bűtűn Şiirleri. Varlık Yayınları, 1973, pp. 198-200

THE MERMAID

Had she just come out of the sea?


Her hair, her lips
Smelled like the sea till the morning;
Her heaving bosom was like the sea.

I knew she was poor


- But you can’t talk about poverty forever -
She sang songs of love
Gently to my ears.

Who knows what she had seen and learned

126
In a life spent fighting the sea.
Mending, casting and drawing the nets,
Fixing the fishing line, getting the bait, cleaning the boats…
To remind me of the bony fish
Her hands touched mine.

I saw it that night in her eyes


That dawn is so lovely in the open seas!
Her tresses taught me all about the waves,
I kept tossing and turning in my dreams.

Orhan Veli, Bütün Şiirleri, Varlık Yayınları, 1973, p.224

THE CORNELIAN CHERRY

This year,
The cornelian cherry
Gave its first fruit:
There were only three.
Next year it may give five-,
Why worry?
We can wait,
Life is long.

Ah, dear cornelian cherry.

(KIZILCIK, BUTUN ESERLERI, VARLIK YAYINLARI, 12 INCI


BASILIS -- ILK BASKI 1951 - - s.137)

ON THE SEA’S HORIZON

The setting sun on the sea’s horizon

127
And the piercing shrieks of the birds;
My God, this turmoil, this fervor
And the evening’s air fraught
With these desperate flights,
Evening’s dream ripening in water
Like the branches of coral…

OF A CLOUD ABOVE OUR HEADS

The shadow of a cloud above our heads


Hangs over the sun,
Faraway the yogurt seller’s voice
Is scattered like dust
The night of the people without tomorrows
Has commenced inside us before the day ended.

MORNING

Open your window to cool breezes!


Right across a tree changed by the dawn;
Let your sleep be drained from your drowsy eyes
Let the wind play with your tresses
Don’t hide your body’s silvery nudity
Which is like another spring.
Let slavish lips caress and love
All you have – the neck, the hair, the breasts…
Since you’re more beautiful than the night.

YAVUZ, HILMI

INFANTS OF THE EAST

infants of the East are


not porcelain dolls; think of the suffering
a thin, wounded shirt for them

128
and lullabies are the hardest in the evenings
think of the white cheese when they cry
think of the skim milk when they smile

infants of the East are


not porcelain dolls;
as if coupling with homecoming
the exiled shepherd passes through
Siirt with the veil, Van with henna
death blows its autumnal wind into their faces
and the moon an eastern carbuncle of the night

infants of the East are


not porcelain dolls; they consume pains for trachoma
days for toil, roses for the future
think that the prairie is their mother
the mountain is their father
and the gun is their pacifier

ZIYALAN, Nihat

THE ECHO

My ears cannot take it anymore;


The voices coming from deep inside me,
Without rhyme or reason.

Are they from the times


When I was first slapped,
Or I fell down from a horse
and broke my arm?

Is it my scream,
When my toenail hit a rock and broke off?

Are they the words


Of the girl I took home in a carriage

129
After a literary event,
Who said: “You’re the first one
To kiss me after my mom”?
Or the words I couldn’t utter,
“It is the same for me”?

Is that the voice


Of the falling tree
When my father heard the death of my brother?

His coffin was made of the same tree!


Alongside my mother’s cloth-wrapped head,
With a pitcher full of tears;
A pine scented voice
Above the carriage going beyond the Tauruses!

Are these the voices?


I wove with the yarn of forbearance,
That kept clashing and turned into echoes,
When I took to the roads to go to faraway places.

I don’t know how


I can stop them
Before they turn into an avalanche.

(Original published in Varlık, March 2009, p. 13)

ZORLUTANA, HALIDE NUSRET

A LITTLE MORE65

To look at this vast azure a little more, To fill our souls with bright skies...
To salute the stars one by one at night.
To be able to kiss the moonlight
Reflected in still waters

65
“Biraz Daha”

130
And the perfume of the roses,
The laughter of children...
To hear the singing of the nightingale a little more,,
And to laugh a little more
Looking at youngsters in love;
A little more...
To look at your old folks’ gray hair a little more
To receive the rising day
In the open brow of my son…
To drink the spring from the eyes of my daughter...
To feel the hard touch of the earth on one’s feet
A little more...
To feel the caresses of the wind on the face,
And the changing seasons more fully
To feel the heat and the cold...
To watch the smoky mountaintops at a distance
And to recognise in a pure light anew,
The friend and the foe
A little more
But in spite of everything
To love everybody and everything
At once
To love a little more
And then…
The waters will be dark the voices will stop
A grim evening will descend
In the faces of the loved ones
And when the eyes close
Slowly away from this world
I want a little light, light…
A little more,
Light.

131