“İstanbul İstanbul Olalı” (“Since İstanbul has been İstanbul”)

I am not one of those lucky people who were born in İstanbul, as some would say.  Some lifetime devotees from my country of birth, that is.  This global city has been in the hearts of countless, to which a large number of Turkish and non-Turkish songs, literary compositions and cinematic productions would attest. “Gegen die Wand” (“Head-On”)  and “Auf der anderen Seite” (“The Edge of Heaven”)  by Fatih Akın, the Turkish-German director come to mind for their impressive award-records.  “Gegen die Wand” demands a larger highlight as the 2004 designated Goldener Bår (The Golden Bear) award: the German equivalent of The Oscar – many in the United States seem to await in eagerness to be watching tonight.  (No worries, please, I am not at all going to go there…)

İstanbul functions as the cultural connector in both films – justifiably so, for it is the only world city that is situated on two continents (hence, the term Eurasian as one of its referents).  While I may not be as lucky as those born there, my connection to this complexly picturesque metropolitan scenery runs rather deep: the members of multiple generations of my family have been buried there.  But, that’s a completely different topic, and I shall not dwell on it, either.  İnstead, I will give us a mere flavor of the longing for İstanbul Sezen Aksu – one of Turkey’s most celebrated song artists articulates and sings.  Her yearning is one directed at a love lost, embedded in visual imagery on the city’s many marked old traits.  Hence, the song mourns but simultaneously celebrates a past that is engraved in the soul of the city but also of all who have loved.

My translation of the lyrics follows the original Turkish.

Söz ve Müzik: Sezen Aksu

Uzanıp Kanlıcanın orta yerinde bi taşa

Gözümün yaşını yüzdürdüm Hisara doğru

Yapacak hiçbir şey yok gitmek istedi gitti

Hem anlıyorum hem çok acı tek taraflı bitti

 

Bi lodos lazım şimdi bana, bi kürek, bi kayık

Zulada birkaç şişe yakut yer gök kırmızı

Söverim gelmişine geçmişine ayıpsa ayıp

Düşer üstüme akşamdan kalma sabah yıldızı

 

Ah İstanbul İstanbul olalı

Hiç görmedi böyle keder

Geberiyorum aşkından

Kalmadı bende gururdan eser

 

İstanbul İstanbul olalı

Hiç görmedi böyle keder

Geberiyorum aşkından

Kalmadı bende gururdan eser

 

Ne acı ne acı insan kendine ne kadar yenik

Bulunmadı ihanetin ilacı yürek koca bir karadelik

Yapacak hiçbir şey yok gönül bu sevdi

Yeni bir ten yeni bir heyecan bilirim üstelik

 

Bi lodos lazım şimdi bana, bi kürek, bi kayık

Zulada birkaç şişe yakut yer gök kırmızı

Söverim gelmişine geçmişine ayıpsa ayıp

Düşer üstüme akşamdan kalma sabah yıldızı

 

Ah İstanbul İstanbul olalı

Hiç görmedi böyle keder

Geberiyorum aşkından

Kalmadı bende gururdan eser

 

İstanbul İstanbul olalı

Hiç görmedi böyle keder

Geberiyorum aşkından

Kalmadı bende gururdan eser

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Laying myself on a rock in the midst of Kanlıca

I had my tear swim toward Hisar

There is nothing to do about it: he wanted to go; he did

I understand but it is also very sad; for it was only a one-sided end

 

I need a southwester now, an oar and a boat

A few bottles in the stash, the land is ruby; red, the sky

Let it be a disgrace! I don’t care! I will curse it all!

Delayed from the evening, a morning star descends upon me

(Refrain)

 

Oh! Since İstanbul has been İstanbul

It never saw such grief

I am dying of his love

Nothing is left from my pride

(Refrain)

 

How sad! How sad! How the self defeats itself

There is no cure for betrayal; the heart is a colossal black hole

There is nothing to do about it: such is the heart, it loved

A new skin a new thrill – besides, I should know

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

May your Sunday and next week be filled with joyous times!  I look forward to your next visit.

 

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