Tag Archives: literary translation

A Voice from Africa in Turkish

“In Africa”, a poem by Emeghara Collins © March 4, 2019 ~ Translation into Turkish by hülya n. yılmaz © March 6, 2019

In Africa

the ants…

We’re the restless
people of the world…

People in
endless torment…

And must sing
praises in shame…

If any man
from Africa…

go to hell…

That’ll mean
a cheat o Lord…

For in Africa
we live in hell…

We live in
hell o man…

For with our hands
we bury our children…

With our eyes
we see our own death…

Mr preacher, preach
about hell no more…

For in Africa
we’re already in hell…

We live in
hell o man…

Our belly the mirror
of our economy…

Our lives, used to
kola the terrorists…

In Africa
we live in hell…

We live in
hell o man…

How do I manage
these tears in my eyes?

How do I convince
myself, it was all a lie?

Polling units an alter
we must offer our blood…

Go back and
tell God o preacher…

That in Africa
we’re already in hell…

Oh, we live
in hell o man…

Look at those
singing in shame…

Watch their shoes,
longing for summer…

their eyes…

Lay huge lump
of frustration…

You ask of truth
here is the truth…

In my Africa
we live in hell…

We live in
hell o man…

For mothers watch
as their child is buried…

Yet, we blow
trumpets in shame…

Instead of standing
naked in our holy places…

To seek the
face of God…

For a naked man has
no pocket to put his hands…

It’s true…

All copyrights@reserved
Emeghara Collins
March 4th


Karıncalar gibi . . .

Biz dünyanın kıpır kıpır

Insanlarıyız . . .

Bitmez acılar içindeki

Insanları . . .

Ve utanç içinde

Övgüler söylemeye mecburuz . . .

Eğer ki, Afrikadan herhangi bir ınsan

Cehenneme giderse . . .

Bu bir aldatmaca olur,

Tanrım . . .

Zira biz cehennemde

Yaşıyoruz, a be dostum . . .

Biz cehennemde yaşıyoruz . . .

Çünkü kendi ellerimizle

Çocuklarımızı toprağa veriyoruz . . .

Kendi gözlerimizle

Kendi ölümümüzü izliyoruz . . .

Sayın vaiz, cehennem üzerine

Vaazlar verme artık . . .

Zira Afrika’da

Biz zaten cehennemdeyiz . . .

Biz cehennemdeyiz, a be dostum . . .


Ekonomimizin aynası . . .


Teröristlere yatak . . .

Afrika’da biz

Cehennemde yaşıyoruz . . .

Biz cehennemde yaşıyoruz, a be dostum . . .

Gözlerimdeki bu yaşların

Nasıl mı geliyorum üstesinden . . .

Nasıl mı inandırıyorum kendimi

Her şeyin bir yalan olduğuna . . .

Oy sandıkları birer adak taşı

Kanımızı ikram etmeye mecburuz . . .

Dön, geldiğin yere geri git ve Tanrıya söyle,

Sayın vaiz . . .

Afrika’da zaten cehennemde olduğumuzu . . .

Amanlar olsun ki,

Biz cehennemde yaşıyoruz, a be dostum . . .

Baksana, şu utanç içinde övgü şarkıları söyleyenlere . . .

Ayaklarındakine bir baksana,

Nasıl da bir yaz mevsiminin özlemi içindeler . . .


Buğu buğu bir hüsran . . .

Gerçeği merak ediyorsun ya hani,

Işte gerçek . . .

Benim Afrikamda

Biz cehennemde yaşıyoruz . . .

Biz cehennemde yaşıyoruz, a be dostum . . .

Çünkü annelerin gözü önünde

Yavruları gömülüyor . . .

Ama biz ne yapıyoruz,

Borazanlarımızı çalıyoruz utanç içinde . . .

Kutsal yerlerimizde çırılçıplak

Ayakta kalıp Tanrının yüzünü aramak üzere . . .

Çünkü çıplak bir insanın

Ellerini koyacağı bir cebi olmaz hiç . . .



Gerçek işte bu . . .



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Nazım Hikmet on my mind again . . .

Feeling drained of mental and physical energy while in possession of little to none creativity, one day after the end of yet another hit-by-a-whirlwind-semester I am resorting to my safe haven today: To the incomparable Nazım Hikmet and his poetry . . .

[Free Online Images]

Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

Nazım Hikmet, 1902 – 1963

it’s 1962 March 28th
I’m sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don’t like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn’t know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn’t worked the earth love it
I’ve never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love

and here I’ve loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can’t wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you’ll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me

I didn’t know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn’t know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
“the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high”
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
to a pine bough for luck

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera’s behind the wheel we’re driving from Moscow to the Crimea
formerly “Goktepé ili” in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn’t have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I’ve written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I’m going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather’s hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there’s a lantern in the servant’s hand
and I can’t contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadıköy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn’t know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I’m floored watching them from below
or whether I’m flying at their side

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don’t
be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn’t know I liked snow

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren’t about to paint it that way
I didn’t know I loved the sea
except the Sea of Azov
or how much

I didn’t know I loved clouds
whether I’m under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it

I didn’t know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries I didn’t know I loved
rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I’m half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn’t know I loved sparks
I didn’t know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

19 April 1962

Source: Academy of American Poets ~ “From Selected Poetry by Nazim Hikmet. Translation copyright © 1986 by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc.”

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On Turkish Roads to the Legitimation of Child Rape: Remembering Nazım as a Form of Escapism

Turkey: Thousands protest against proposed child sex law

The news was impossible to disregard. Regarded it, I have. Writing my reaction to it in nonfiction, however, was far too disturbing of a thought for me – an older woman, born into and raised in a modernized Turkey before leaving for the now similarly tainted United States in pursuit of an advanced academic career decades ago. So: I have resorted to poetry…yet once again.


My poem below first appeared here on October 19, 2014 in Turkish – the language in which I had initially conceived it, translating it to English shortly after. The photograph above of Nazım Hikmet, known as Nazım Hikmet Ran as well (1902-1963) had donned this page also back then. I am re-posting the poem in question with minor changes in their original articulations. This world-renowned exilic poet of Turkey had in persistence written – among numerous other humanity-related wrongdoings – on the objectionable status of Turkish women in their country of birth at large. I recognized Nazım’s deep-rooted concern inside me all over again in the face of the latest uproar in Istanbul, and so I reached for the prophetic conclusions he had drawn in his poem, “Kadınlarımız” (the italicized sections represent my direct quotes from Nazım).

Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış yurdun acı gerçeklerini
kadınımızdan biteviye esirgenenleri
ister olsun tek bir başına ister kocasının yanında
olsun varsın bir bebesi, o verici böğrünün öz yuvasında

ince, küçük çeneleri, kocaman gözleriyle
anamız, avradımız, yarimiz kadınlar
ama anaya yakışan saygıyı
analıklarında bile göremeyen analar
soframızdaki yeri öküzümüzden sonra gelen

doğurmasa, erkeğinin asla göze alamayacağı bir fedakarlıkla
hayatın yegane masumiyet hazinesini ona hediyeleyen
herkes ana oluyorları kendine defalarca yediren
gene de yüzlerinden tebessüm nadiren eksilen
aynı yorgun alışkanlık çemberine
mahkum edilen kadınımız

Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış senle beni,
onu şunu bunu
bizi sizi onları

bilmiş çok öncesinden bugünü geçmişi ve de geleceği
‘avradını, yarini’ analıklarında bile hiçe saymaya
ant içmiş erkeklerimizin tek toplar damarlı aile sofrasına
katmış cömert bir asaletle bu dahi destanına…

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How transparent our country of birth was to him
How deprived of life our women are
Whether single or decorating their husbands
With their babies cradled inside their selfless breasts

Our women with their fine, small chins and huge eyes;
Women that are our mothers, wives, lovers
But the kind of mothers
Who are robbed of motherly respect
Even in their motherhood

Our women who are forsaken
During meals for the sake of our oxen
Women who gift their men
Life’s ultimate treasure
A breath of innocence or more
If it weren’t for them
Whose men would never dare to undergo
The same great sacrifices of the self

Women who must tolerate
Their men’s oft-shouted ridicule:
Everyone can be a mother.
You are nothing special.

Women who nevertheless
Try not to neglect a smile from the face
Who are chained to the deadening same old tired rut

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How well he knew you me her us them
The present the past the future
Of his never-forgotten home
Of its single-veined patronizers

He knew it so well
That with his chivalric saga
He welded our women’s one-legged stools
Atop the food table of their men who seem to have sworn
To belittle their wives, their lovers even in their maternity divine…


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Nazım uttered…love or lust, I replied

The commitment Nazım’s lover speaks of in the following lines is indeed vast, as is that lover’s determination to protect love for life…though these realizations are a reality only for the one in love. The concept of leaving, hence, never materializes in that heart.

Lust, on the other hand, is easy to leave behind…as easy as leaving the one who is merely lusted after.

Benim keIime hazinem çok geniştir, derdim. Senin bir keIimene yetemedim; git, ne demekti sevgiIim?” ~ Nazım Hikmet

“I used to claim that my word power was vast. It did, however, not suffice to your one word; what again was the meaning of ‘leave’, my love?” ~ My own translation from the Turkish original



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“You will find poetry nowhere […]

unless you bring some of it with you.” ~ Joseph Joubert (1754-1824)



[Image Credits: Google – Free ]

Heeding the suggested transportation of a precious cargo today, I bring along a poem that is one of my most favorites by Nazım Hikmet, a poet whose entire literary work I have been admiring since my teenage years. The translation to English is my attempt at a rather intimately-felt justice to this exilic author’s native tongue:

Seni düşünmek güzel şey, ümitli şey,
Dünyanın en güzel sesinden
En güzel şarkıyı dinlemek gibi birşey…
Fakat artık ümit yetmiyor bana,
Ben artık şarkı dinlemek değil,
Şarkı söylemek istiyorum.

Thinking of you is beautiful, it gives hope,

It is like listening to the most beautiful song

Through the most beautiful voice in the world…

Hope to me, however, does no longer suffice,

I don’t want to listen to songs anymore,

I want to sing one.

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“İstanbul’u Dinliyorum” ~ “I Am Listening to İstanbul”

Is there a place that has once landed in the depth of your being? Do your feelings and thoughts take you there once in a while or often? Lately, it has happened to me. Again. With the yearning having risen from casual conversations with close friends. Of all the possible regions that had long ago taken a piece of my heart, it was the city many find to be impossible to describe. In my case, there is no interest whatsoever to make even an attempt to say anything about this phenomenon other than having a well-known poem speak it all.

Like the poet I am respectfully bowing before, I, too, am listening to İstanbul today but to İstanbul of my heavily aged memories. And I do so in the hope that this world city will reconnect me to my mother’s grave – long lost in its physicality…

The Turkish original by Orhan Veli Kanık


İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı
Önce hafiften bir rüzgar esiyor;
Yavaş yavaş sallanıyor
Yapraklar, ağaçlarda;
Uzaklarda, çok uzaklarda,
Sucuların hiç durmayan çıngırakları
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Kuşlar geçiyor, derken;
Yükseklerden, sürü sürü, çığlık çığlık.
Ağlar çekiliyor dalyanlarda;
Bir kadının suya değiyor ayakları;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Serin serin Kapalıçarşı
Cıvıl cıvıl Mahmutpaşa
Güvercin dolu avlular
Çekiç sesleri geliyor doklardan
Güzelim bahar rüzgarında ter kokuları;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Başımda eski alemlerin sarhoşluğu
Loş kayıkhaneleriyle bir yalı;
Dinmiş lodosların uğultusu içinde
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Bir yosma geçiyor kaldırımdan;
Küfürler, şarkılar, türküler, laf atmalar.
Birşey düşüyor elinden yere;
Bir gül olmalı;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı.

İstanbul’u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Bir kuş çırpınıyor eteklerinde;
Alnın sıcak mı, değil mi, biliyorum;
Dudakların ıslak mı, değil mi, biliyorum;
Beyaz bir ay doğuyor fıstıkların arkasından
Kalbinin vuruşundan anlıyorum;
İstanbul’u dinliyorum.

Own English Translation, December 20, 2014 (unedited, unrevised)


I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed

In a gentle touch, first a wind breezes;

Leaves sway on trees

Without a hurry;

Far, very far away,

There are the never-stopping bells of the water-carriers

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

Birds are passing by, then;

From high above, in flocks, in screams.

The nets are being pulled in the kiddles;

A woman’s feet touch the water;

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

It is crisp inside the Covered Bazaar

Mahmutpaşa, so very chirpy

Its courtyard is filled with pigeons

The beats of hammers are rising from the docks

In the glorious spring wind, the smell of sweat;

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

I am intoxicated by the celebrations of the past

A waterside mansion with its dimmed boathouses;

Within the murmur of the died out southwesters

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

A coquette passes by the sidewalk;

Profanity, chants, songs, wolf whistles.

Something falls off of her hand;

It must be a rose:

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed.

~ ~ ~

I am listening to İstanbul with my eyes closed;

A bird is fluttering on her skirts;

I know if you have fever or not;

I know if your lips are wet;

A white moon rises behind the pistachio nuts

I know it from the beat of your heart;

I am listening to İstanbul.

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In case you have…

…purchased a copy of my Trance, a collection of poems in English, German and Turkish, dear friends,  visitors, explorers, supporters of independent authors’ works, would you consider reviewing this Inner Child Press, Ltd. publication?  You have my thanks for your consideration.  The link is as follows: amazon Customer Reviews.

TRANCE Cover Full Final it 1


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whenever “tongue-tied”…


Being “tongue-tied” is, as we all know, a medical condition. My intent of using it today has nothing to do with medicine, however: I seem not to be able to express in words the heaviness my heart is under, for a loved one is being missed in sensory pains.  What happens to us, when we get “tongue-tied” as far as our emotional beings? With me, nothing else will do but to resort to a translation of what comes closest to articulating my self’s dilemma at the time.  So, for today, what I have for us is my (idiomatic) translation of “Vazgeçilmezimsin” by Yılmaz Değirmenci  (b. 1975) – a highly moving poem, when I am concerned.  I hope you will let me know what you think of it…


Hem günah hem kutsal olan şarap misali içilmezimsin
Gözümün önünde saklı bir sır gibi görünmezimsin
Hiçbir kitapta geçmeyen kelime anlamında bilinmezimsin
İdam mahkûmunun son isteği kadar özlenenimsin
Şafak gününü bekleyen asker heyecanıyla gözlenenimsin
Gün doğdu mu?
Vakit geldi mi?
Ayrılık sona erdi mi?
Hasret gerçekten bitti mi?
Bu hastalıksa ben bunla mutluyum
Ölene kadar inan ki umutluyum
Sen benim kutsal çilemsin

You are one I will not give up

You are one I will not give up
Like wine, sinful but holy as well, you are not to be consumed
As if a secret hiding right before my eyes, you cannot be seen
You are my unknown, in the sense of a word no book has ever written
As strong of a longing as the last wish of a death row inmate
The one I ache for as excited as a soldier awaiting the break of dawn
Has the day been born?
Is it time?
Did separation come to an end?
Is longing really over?
If this is an illness, I am happy about it
Believe me, I will be full of hope until my death
You are my holy ordeal
You are one I will not give up


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Nazım Hikmet (1902-1963): A lover – of women and his country of birth

th-2 thNazım-Hikmet-Hoş-Geldin-Kadınım-Şiiri-e1341589160999-150x150th-1










At times, we believe what we want to believe, don’t we?  Similarly, we refuse to believe what others may claim?  Such as an attribute given to a well-known poet?  Just like I do, with Nazım (I don’t even want to refer to him with his full name – it feels so very alien and impersonal…), the world-renowned Turkish exile poet.  I never believed he was a traitor, as claimed by some officials of Turkey in the past (there was a retraction of such claims after Nazım’s death), nor a womanizer (but a lover of love, one woman at a time). When this most influential writer died (on exile, craving to be in his country of birth), I was a mere eight year-old.  My passionate engagement with his poetry and other writings have everything to do with the development and intensification of my own interest.  Not because of schooling on his persona and work, or parental introduction (on the contrary: I believe my father was also under the negative influence of one of Turkey’s population segment; my mother always remained neutral – she wouldn’t comment at all, I suspected she, too, liked him outside the norm…).  The more I actively read Nazım’s written word, the more drawn I became to everything he stood for.  Let’s call him my very first crush, okay?  Incredibly handsome, a stellar composer of poetry, the center of attention of the entire country – for this or that reason, immensely influential nationally as well as abroad: a timeless love, to admit.  For today, I have for us two examples from his poetry – not at all the most frequently cited ones, by the way.  Both works address his love for which he was known to have possessed an extraordinary passion: one, to a woman (“Ben senden önce ölmek isterim”, “I want to die before you”); the other (“Sen”, “You”), to Turkey, his country of birth – one among his numerous poems of homesickness.  It is not any time of anniversary for Nazım.  I am reminiscing him simply because during most of my awake times, he is in my heart and mind.  For, at this stage in my life, I finally am aware more of his value for and contributions to world literature – a subject matter of my special interest as far as my professional undertaking.  I hope you will enjoy this short journey in to a glorious past of the Turkish civilization of contemporary times – an aspect of the country that today is fading away fast and under the harshest possible forces.


senden önce ölmek isterim.
Gidenin arkasından gelen
gideni bulacak mı zannediyorsun?
Ben zannetmiyorum bunu.
İyisi mi, beni yaktırırsın,
odanda ocağın üstüne korsun
içinde bir kavanozun.
Kavanoz camdan olsun,
şeffaf, beyaz camdan olsun
ki içinde beni görebilesin…
Fedakârlığımı anlıyorsun :
vazgeçtim toprak olmaktan,
vazgeçtim çiçek olmaktan
senin yanında kalabilmek için.
Ve toz oluyorum
yaşıyorum yanında senin.
Sonra, sen de ölünce
kavanozuma gelirsin.
Ve orda beraber yaşarız
külümün içinde külün,
ta ki bir savruk gelin
yahut vefasız bir torun
bizi ordan atana kadar…
Ama biz
o zamana kadar
o kadar
ki birbirimize,
atıldığımız çöplükte bile zerrelerimiz
yan yana düşecek.
Toprağa beraber dalacağız.
Ve bir gün yabani bir çiçek
bu toprak parçasından nemlenip filizlenirse
sapında muhakkak
iki çiçek açacak :
biri sen
biri de ben.
daha ölümü düşünmüyorum.
Ben daha bir çocuk doğuracağım.
Hayat taşıyor içimden.
Kaynıyor kanım.
Yaşayacağım, ama çok, pek çok,
ama sen de beraber.
Ama ölüm de korkutmuyor beni.
Yalnız pek sevimsiz buluyorum
bizim cenaze şeklini.
Ben ölünceye kadar da
bu düzelir herhalde.
Hapisten çıkmak ihtimalin var mı bu günlerde?
İçimden bir şey :
belki diyor.

                                                                18 Şubat 1945
Piraye Nâzım Hikmet


My translations of both poems – in the hope that I do some justice to their magnificence:

I want to die before you (“Ben senden önce ölmek isterim”)

February 18, 1945 – To Piraye [It is also argued that this rare find was a poem Piraye wrote to Nazım, instead of Nazım to Piraye.]


I want to die before you

Do you think the one who comes after will find the one who is gone?

I don’t think so.

You’d better have me cremated,

you can place me atop the wood burner in your room inside a jar.

Let the jar be of glass,

transparent, white glass

so that you can see me inside…

You understand my sacrifice:

I give up becoming a piece of the soil,

I give up becoming a flower

just to be next to you.

And I turn to dust

living next to you.

Then, when you also die

you can join me in my jar.

And there, we will live together

your ashes, within my ashes,

until a careless daughter-in-law

or a disloyal grandchild

throws us out of there…

But we will intertwine in each other

until then, so that.

once thrown in to the garbage,

even there, our particles will fall next to one another.

We will dive in to the soil together.

And one day, if a wild flower

should find water and bloom out of this piece of soil

on its stem, two flowers will open:

one you

one I.

I don’t think of death yet.

I will give birth to one more child.

Life explodes out of me.

My blood boils.

I will live, and much, very much,

but you, also.


death doesn’t scare me, either.

I just find our burial style too distasteful.

I assume that will correct itself until I die.

Is there a chance you will be let free [of imprisonment] these days?

Something inside me says: maybe.











Sen (You)

You are my slavery and freedom,

my burning flesh – as it were a naked summer night,

you are my home.

You, green ripples in her hazel eyes,

you, big, beautiful and victorious

and my longing, the more unattainable whenever neared…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As always, I wish you all a wonderful Sunday and an equally wonderful week! I very much look forward to your visit next time.

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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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