Tag Archives: Cemal Süreya

“I Love You From Afar” (capitalization, per Turkish)

When you are in love, words – at times – don’t suffice to express your feelings you can only register in your heart, would you agree? Then, you find yourself in a quest for a translation of what lies joyfully heavy inside your soul. That translation sometimes becomes a real one, having transcended from your essence to another. Or, the yearned for essence translates yours. I want to hope that you would like my translation of “Uzaktan Seviyorum Seni” by Cemal Süreya as my reflection on romantic love on this Sunday.  

The Turkish Original:


uzaktan seviyorum seni
kokunu alamadan,
boynuna sarılamadan
yüzüne dokunamadan
sadece seviyorum

öyle uzaktan seviyorum seni
elini tutmadan
yüreğine dokunmadan
gözlerinde dalıp dalıp gitmeden
şu üç günlük sevdalara inat
serserice değil adam gibi seviyorum

öyle uzaktan seviyorum seni
yanaklarına sızan iki damla yaşını silmeden
en çılgın kahkahalarına ortak olmadan
en sevdiğin şarkıyı beraber mırıldanmadan

öyle uzaktan seviyorum seni
ağlatmadan uzaktan seviyorum

öyle uzaktan seviyorum seni;
sana söylemek istediğim her kelimeyi
dilimde parçalayarak seviyorum
damla damla dökülürken kelimelerim
masum beyaz bir kağıtta seviyorum…

(Own Unedited, Unrevised Translation – 12/13/2014)


I love you from afar

without being able to smell your scent

to embrace your nape

to feel your face

I merely love you

from afar, I just love you

not holding your hand

without touching your heart

nor dissolving in your eyes

in spite of today’s three-day love fads

not wildly but like a man, I love you

I just love you from afar

without wiping off the two tears running down your cheeks

not joining you in your heartiest laughs

nor crooning together with you your most favorite song

from afar, I just love you

without disappointing,

not pouring out anything

without destroying

not making sad,

nor causing a cry, I love you from afar

I just love you like that from afar;

by shredding in my tongue

every word I want to tell you

I love you

I love you on a white piece of paper

while my words fall down, drop by drop…

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Cemal Süreya


Have you ever had any moments when you wished to have met an individual no longer alive?  This desire seems to be visiting me often, and in particular, when poets, writers, and thinkers are concerned.  It happened again when I watched the following recording from the post-60s Turkish television archives:



By giving me a sweet surprise from his grave – his laid back wittiness, Cemal Süreya immediately appealed to me as my focus for this November Wednesday.  While live on television to talk on the state of literature in the country, the program host asks the poet the issue with the infamous misspelling of his last name.  (When spelled with double “y”, it mostly identifies a woman in Turkish.)  Süreya replies in polite indifference: “I lost a bet.  About twenty years ago.  Since I had two of them, I didn’t mind giving away one of the ‘ys’.”

I also wanted you to have a taste of one of Süreya’s perhaps most frequently cited poems, “Aşk” (Love) in its original language.  For that, I am resorting to yet another video recording, in which Bülent Yakut delivers an utterly successful reading:



As for the poem I have selected to translate for you from many of Cemal Süreya’s lyrical collections, it highlights a rare find as far as the subject matter.  The original version in Turkish appears first, as it has been my practice all this month:

Afrika dediğin bir garip kıta

El bilir alem bilir

Ki şekli bozulmasın diye Akdeniz’in

Hala eskisi gibi çizilir


An amazing continent, this Africa

Strangers know it the universe knows it

That it is drawn on maps

as it used to be

not to blemish the shape of Mediterranean Sea

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