Tag Archives: poetry translation

Attila İlhan’s “Ben Seni Neden mi Sevdim?” in Translation

A few weeks ago, a first happened to me on this platform. A reader, zeynebe has (ever so gracefully) asked me, if I could translate “Ben Seni Neden mi Sevdim?” -a poem by Attila Ilhan (1925-2005; “a Turkish poet, novelist, essayist, journalist and reviewer (Wikipedia).” Having missed the excitement I used to feel whenever I would work on my literary translations, I welcomed this request. And my Turkish-to-English-bridging effort has come about.

Please note: When you click on “Attila Ilhan” above, you will be directed to a YouTube video in which the poet himself guides you through his life in his native tongue. As for the Turkish original of the poem, my source was Çetin Bayramoğlu -another wordpress blogger. 

Ben seni neden mi sevdim?

Ben seni bir okyanusun derinliğinde buldum da sevdim
Parlak bir inciydin benim için
Paha biçilmez bir inci
Ben seni soğuk ve yağmurlu bir günde
Seni düşünürken gülüşündeki sıcaklığın içime dolup ta
Beni sardığı bir anda sevdim
Seni sadece selvi boyun, siyah saçların ya da kara gözlerin
Güzel bir yüzün var diye değil
Fikirlerinle, konuşmandaki güzelliğin ve benim o kor halde yanan yüreğimle sevdim
Ben seni derinden ve hissederek sevdim
Her kalp atışımda vücudumun dört bir köşesine yayıldığını
Beni sardığını her nefes alışımda ciğerlerime işlediğini bilerek sevdim
Seni kış gecelerinin o soğuk yatağında birlikte uyuyup beni ısıttığın
Yaz sıcağında uyuyamayıp sıkıntılarım olduğun
Ve rüyalarımda buluştuğumuz gecelerde sevdim
Seni ellerinden tutup kanımın kaynadığı
Kalbimin yerinden fırlayacağını hissettiğim anlarda
O ıslak dudaklarınla beni sevdiğini söyleyeceğin anları düşünerek sevdim
Ben seni o sensiz anlardaki boş ve değersiz geçen dakikalarda
Kayıp zamanlarımızda, seni arayıp bulamadığım
Çaresizlik içinde olduğum, içki sofralarını dost bildiğim anlarda sevdim
Sen ne kadar uzak olsan da,
Aramızdaki kilometreler nasıl çoksa
Ben de seni o kadar yoğun ve o denli çok sevdim
Seni kalbimde yanan ateşin ile
Zihnimde oluşan hayallerin o ay parçası çehrenle
Bana derinden bakan o gözlerindeki ışıltıyı göreceğim anları beklerken
Kalbimin yanıp tutuştuğu anlarda
Gelip bu ateşi alevlendirerek
Bana sarılarak beni sevdiğini söyleyeceğin anları düşünerek sevdim

Korkuyorum!
Hakettiğin mutluluğu sana verememekten korkuyorum.
Seni beni sevdiğinden fazla sevememekten korkuyorum.
Senin sevgine layık olduktan sonra başkaları tarafından o sevgiyi kaybetmekten korkuyorum.
Seni kazanayım derken kaybetmekten korkuyorum.
Aramızdaki maneviyat haricindeki uçurumlardan korkuyorum.
Senin kalbini daha fazla kırmaktan korkuyorum.
O temiz ve masum göz yaşlarını daha fazla akıtmaktan korkuyorum.

Evet korkuyorum;
seni kaybetmekten, seni daha fazla üzmekten …
Sana kendimi ifade edememekten korkuyorum.
Ya da yanlış anlaşılmaktan korkuyorum.
Uçurumun kenarında yalnız kalmaktan korkuyorum.
Dostluğuna doyamadan ulu orta yalnız kalmaktan korkuyorum.
Yüreğimdeki o ince sızının bir gün çoğalmasından ve beni sarmasından korkuyorum.
Sevgi denen güzelliğinin bir gün beni terk etmesinden korkuyorum.
Dostluğun ölüp yerine nefretin yeşermesinden korkuyorum.

Korkuyorum evet;
seni kaybetmekten ve seni daha fazla üzmekten…
Bir çiçek misali ne ellemeye ne de koparmaya kıyamıyorum uzaktan seyrediyorum çünkü;
Seni daha fazla incitmekten korkuyorum.
Ömründe yaşadığın mutluluğu huzuru sana yaşatamamaktan korkuyorum.
Sana kalbimden fazlasını verememekten korkuyorum.
Sonunda sana gözyaşından başka bir şey bırakamamaktan korkuyorum.
Seni sevmekten değil;
dostluğunu suistimal etmekten,
Seni kaybetmekten ve değerini bilememekten ve Yüce Rabbime hesap verememekten korkuyorum.
Belki de çok fazla korkuyorum …

ÇÜNKÜ; BEN İLK DEFA SEVİYORUM…

Attila Ilhan

A Turkish to English Translation Draft
© hülya n. yılmaz (4.30.2016)

Why I Loved You, You Ask?

I found you in an ocean’s depth, and thus loved
A sparkling pearl you were to me
A priceless pearl
I loved you on a cold and rainy day
When your smile thawed my soul
While I housed you in my thoughts
I loved you not only for your gracious height, dark hair or black eyes
Nor for your beautiful face
I loved you in your thoughts, for the beauty of your words
And with that ablaze heart of mine
I loved you, sensing you at the core of my being
Knowing how you flowed into every cell in my body
At each beat of my heart, how you held me in your caress
Filling my lungs every time I took a breath
I loved you when you kept me warm while we shared a sleep
In the cold bed of winter nights
I loved you when you became my distress
In my sleepless nights in the dead of the summer
And in those nights when we united in my dreams
I loved you when the touch of your hands set my blood on fire
In those moments, when I felt my heart leave its cage
While I imagined moments when you, with those wet lips of yours,
Were about to tell me that you loved me
I loved you in those void worthless minutes that passed without you,
During times we had lost, when I tried to find you but could not
Throughout all the moments that witnessed my despair, when I befriended the bars
No matter how far away you were from me, I loved you
And with the same intensity and as much as the extent of the distances between us
I loved you with your fire that was burning in my heart
With images of you that were entering my mind, with your moon-lit face
While waiting for the moments when I was going to see
That sparkle in your eyes, looking at me intently
I loved you in those moments when my heart burnt of desire
While I imagined moments when you would come to revive that fire
By telling me in an embrace that you loved me

I am afraid!
I am afraid of not being able to give you the happiness you deserve.
I am afraid of not being able to love you more than you love me.
I am afraid of losing your love to others after I become worthy of it.
I am afraid of losing you while I try to win you.
I am afraid of the non-platonic divides between us.
I am afraid of breaking your heart even more.
I am afraid of causing you to shed more of your pure and innocent tears.

Yes, I am afraid;
of losing you, of giving you more sorrow . . .
I am afraid of failing to express myself to you.
Or, perhaps, I am afraid of being misunderstood.
I am afraid of being left all alone on the edge of the cliff.
I am afraid of being bluntly abandoned before being sated with your friendship.
I am afraid of that dull ache in my heart intensifying and surrounding me one day.
I am afraid of that beauty of yours called love leaving me one day.
I am afraid of hate flourishing after the death of friendship.

True, I am afraid;
of losing you and of creating more sadness for you . . .
Like with a flower, I cannot bear to touch nor pick you
I watch you from a distance instead because
I am afraid of hurting you more.
I am afraid of not being able to provide you with
The happiness and peace you have known in your life.
I am afraid of not being able to give you anything else but my heart.
I am afraid of leaving you nothing else but tears in the end.

I am not afraid of loving you;
But rather of taking advantage of your friendship,
of losing you, of being unable to appreciate you
and of failing to answer to The Ultimate Being.
I may be too afraid, maybe . . .

BECAUSE; THIS IS THE FIRST TIME I AM IN LOVE . . .

 

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“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 SEVİYORUM SENİ

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
kırmadan
dökmeden
parçalamadan
üzmeden
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

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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Fitnat Hanım (Zübeyde)

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[Photo image adopted from the Related Article as shown below]

For my last “Autumn Wednesdays” post, my memory took me to my early years of schooling when classes on Ottoman Literature were a requirement.  Not much different than the (especially, 18th and 19th century) European literary traditions, female poets and writers of earlier centuries commonly used a pen name also on the Euro-Asian continent we know today as Turkey.  Zübeyde (no known last name) of the 18th Ottoman century was no exception.  In the 19th century, a time period that witnessed translations of some of her poems in to Western languages, in literary circles she was considered one of the “female Sultans of the land of the poems.” (Also see in “Zaman”)

In her research article, “Kadın Şairlerimizden Zübeyde Fitnat Hanım” Meryem Zarifoğlu lends to her readers first in Ottoman and modern Turkish (subsequently) what she claims to be a very famous song among Fitnat Hanım’s poems:
Güller kızarır şerm ile ol gonca gülünce
Sünbül ham olur reşk ile kâkül bükülünce

Anka dahi olursa düşer pençe-i aşka
Sayd-ı dile sehbâz-ı nigâhın süzülünce

Ol gonca-i nâ-şükûfte olur gül gibi handân
Şebnem gibi eşk-i dil-i şeydâ dökülünce

Her târı birer mâr oluyor gene-i hüsnünde
Ruhsârına zülf-i siyehin şâne bulunca

Can virmek ise kasdın eğer aşk ile Fıtnat
Hâk-ı der-i dildârdan ayrılma ölünce

***

Güller utanıp kızarır, o gonca gibi güzel gülünce.
Sünbül kıskançlıktan eğilir o saç bükülünce.

Ankâ bile olsa askın pençesine düşer.
Bakışın doğanı gönlü avlamak için süzülünce.

O açılmamış gonca gül gibi güler açılır;
Çılgın gönlün gözyaşı, çiy gibi dökülünce.

Her bir teli yılan gibi oluyor güzellik hazinenin,
Siyah saçın, taranmaya başlayıp yanağına dokununca.

Ey Fıtnat, amacın aşk ile can vermekse,
Sevgilinin kapısı önündeki topraktan ayrılma ölünce.

In my own English translation from modern Turkish, the poem-song appears as follows:

Roses become bashful and blush, when that bud-like beauty smiles.

Out of envy, the hyacinth sags, when that tress curls.

Even if it were the phoenix, it will succumb to the talons of love.

When the hawk of that gaze glides to hunt the heart.

It will smile and blossom like the unopened rose bud;

When the tear of the mad heart pours like the dew.

Each strand of your beauty trove, your black hair, resembles a serpent,

When it touches your cheek while being combed.

Oh, Fitnat, if your intent is to lose your life with love,

Don’t leave the soil before your beloved’s door when you die.

 

Related Article (in Turkish)

Book on related topic (in English, with occasional Turkish sections)

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Özdemir Asaf and Yıldız Moran Arun

For the month of November – my most favorite autumn time, I will make a virtual visit with an artist or a writer (or both, as is the case today) of my country of birth.  Why Turkey?  Why now?  Well, I have reached and fast passing the autumn of my life and have begun to feel an increasing nostalgia toward the world corner where I first joined the living.  November is marked for us in the U.S. as the month of thanksgiving.  It is my way of giving thanks to my birthing place in this manner.  And I just would love it, if you were to join me on that travel for a little longer…on Wednesdays…and only for a month…

 

 

The video above vocalizes a reading of “Yalnızlık Paylaşılmaz,” one of the many poems on loneliness by Turkey’s widely reputed poet, Özdemir Asaf – Halit Özdemir Arun, with his real name (1923-1981):

Yalnızlık, yaşamda bir an,

Hep yeniden başlayan…

Dışından anlaşılmaz.

 

Ya da kocaman bir yalan,

Kovdukça kovalayan…

Paylaşılmaz.

 

Bir düşünde, beni sana ayıran

Yalnızlık paylaşılmaz

Paylaşılsa yanlızlık olmaz.

Loneliness, an instant in life,

Always occurring anew…

An enigma from the outside.

 

Or, a colossal deceit,

One that chases the more it is chased…

Cannot be shared.

 

Saving me for you in one of your dreams

Loneliness cannot be shared

If it could, it would not transpire.

(My own translation, as of 10.29.2013)

Özdemir Asaf – with his best-known name, is considered a prominent landmark when contemporary Turkish literature is considered, not only for his poetic work in his native tongue but also for his translations from French poets and writers in journals and anthologies since 1940.

Yıldız Moran Arun (1932-1995), the poet’s wife was Turkey’s first professionally trained female photographer.  An article in Kadınlar Gökkuşağı claims that – while on one single day, 25 of her photographs were purchased in Cambridge; Moran’s photographic art was overlooked in her country of birth, Turkey, despite its popular appeal.  Her accounts on how she met her husband count as some of the most critical representations of Özdemir Asaf in his true light.

The poem below constitutes one of the poet’s perhaps most passionate verses on loneliness, with my English translation following immediately:

Sen herşeyi süpürebilirsin; sonbaharı süpüremezsin
yalnızsa sürekli bir sonbaharı süpürür hep..

Düşünemezsin.

Yanar sobasında yalnız’ın üşüyen bakışları.
Lambasında karınlığa dönük bir ışık titrer sönük-sönük.
Penceresi dışına kapanmıştır kapısı içine örtük.

Yalnız bin yıl yaşar kendini bir an’da.

Yalnız’ın nesi var nesi yoksa tümü birdenbire’dir.

Yalnız bir ordudur kendi çölünde..
Sonsuz savaşlarında hep yener kendi ordusunu.

Yalnız’ın sakladığı bir şey vardır;
Boyuna yerini değiştirir boyuna onu arar… Biri bulsa diye.

Yalnız hem bilgesi hem delisidir kendi dünyasının.
Ayrıca; hem efendisi hem kölesidir kendisinin.
Tadını çıkaramaz görece’siz dünyasında hiçbirisinin.

Yalnız sürekli dinleyendir söylenmemiş bir sözü.

Sözünde durması yalnız’ın yalancılığıdır kendisine..
Hep yüzüne vurur utancı. O yüzden gözlerini kaçırır gözlerinden.

Yalnız’ın odasında ikinci bir yalnızlıktır ayna.

Yalnız hep uyanır ikinci uykusuna.

Yalnız kendi ben’inin sen’idir.

Bir sözde saklanmış bir yalanı bir gözde okuduğundan
bakmaz kendi gözlerine bile.

Her susadığında o kendi çölündedir.

Kendi öyküsünü ne anlatabilen ne de dinleyebilen.
Kendi türküsünü ne yazabilen ne söyleyebilen.

Bir zamanlar güldüğünü anımsar da…
Yoğurur hüzün’ün çamurunu avuçlarında.

Yalnız aranan tek görgü tanığıdır
yargılanmasında kendi davasının..
Her duruşması ertelenir kavgasının.

Yalnız hem kaptanı hem de tek
yolcusudur batmakta olan gemisinin..
Onun için ne sonuncu ayrılabilir gemisinden ne de ilkin.

Yalnız’ın adı okunduğunda okulda ya da yaşamda..
Kimse “burda” deyemez.. Ama yok da..

Uykunun duvarında başladı..
Önceleri bir toz gölgesi sanki; sonra bir yumak yün gibi.
Ama şimdi iyice görüyor örümceğin ağını gün gibi.

Yalnız duymuş olduğunun sağırı görmüş olduğunun körüdür..
Ölür ölür öldürür.. Öldürür öldürür ölür.
Duyduklarını unutur duyacaklarını düşünür.

Yalnız’ın adına hiç kimse konuşamaz..
O kendi kendisinin sanığıdır.

Yalnız önceden sezer sonra olacakları..
Paylaşacak biri vardır; anlatır anlatır ona olanları olmayacakları.

Her leke kendisiyle çıkar.

You can sweep everything; but not the autumn

lonely*, however, sweeps the fall all the time…

You cannot imagine.

 

The freezing looks of lonely, inside its burning stove.

A dim light shivers toward the darkness in its lamp.

Its window is shut to the outside; its door, closed to its inside.

 

In an instant, lonely lives itself a thousand years.

Whatever lonely owns, they all amount to all at once.

Lonely is an army in its own desert…

Always defeats its own army in eternal wars.

There is something lonely hides incessantly;

It changes its location, quests for it incessantly…For someone to find it.

 

Lonely is both the wise and the mad of its own world.

Moreover; the master and the slave of itself.

Can’t savour any of them in its futile world

 

Lonely constantly listens to an unspoken word.

Keeping its promise is its deception of itself…

Its disgrace always tells it off.  It therefore avoids its eyes from its own.

 

In lonely’s room, the mirror is a second loneliness.

 

Lonely always wakes up to its second sleep.

Lonely is the you of its own I.

For it once read a lie in an eye hiding in a word

it won’t even look in to its own eyes.

When it thirsts, it is in its own desert.

Can neither tell its own story nor can it listen to it.

Can neither write its own song nor can it sing it.

 

Though it will remember its once upon a smile…

It will knead the sorrow’s mire in its palms.

Lonely is the only witness searched for

in the trial of its own case…

Each hearing of its quarrel, postponed.

 

Lonely is the captain as well the sole

passenger of its own sinking ship…

It thus can neither leave it last or first.


When its name is called in school or in life…

No one can say “here”…But neither “away”…

It began on the verge of sleep…

As if a dust shadow, first; then, a ball of yarn.

But now, it clearly sees the spider web as clearly as day.

Lonely is deaf to what it had heard; blind to what it had seen…

It dies and dies then kills…it kills and kills then dies.

Forgets what it hears; thinks of what it will hear.

No one can speak on lonely’s behalf…

It is its own accused.

 

Lonely foresees what is yet to happen…

It has someone to share it with; tells and tells all that happened all that won’t take place.

Every defect removes itself with itself.

 (My translation as of 10.29.2013. *Özdemir Asaf transforms the adjective “lonely” in to a noun in Turkish.  I have honored the grammatical freedom he takes in this poem.)

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

I hope you enjoyed this autumn Wednesday with me during my virtual visit to an artist and a writer of Turkey.  I very much look forward to another November Wednesday but first, to Sunday when we will meet here again.  May you have a wonderful of everything in the meantime.

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A poem by Ataol Behramoğlu (b. 1942)

Hayatı ve Eserleri

I'VE LEARNED SOME THINGS

I've learned one thing from having lived:
If you live, you should live it all in full force 
Your beloved should be exhausted from being kissed
You should be exhausted from smelling a flower

One could gaze at the sky for hours
Could gaze at the sea, a bird, a child
To live on earth is to blend into it, with it
To extend indestructible roots into it 

Once you embrace a friend, 
               you must do so evermore tightly 
Should you get into a fight, 
               you must lend it your whole body, your passion
And once you lie on the ever so warm sand
You should let yourself rest like a grain of sand,       
               a leaf, a piece of pebble

One must listen to all beautiful music 
               to the fullest
As though filling your entire being with sounds, melodies

One should plunge head-on into life
As though diving from a rock into the emerald sea

Distant lands should draw you in, people you don't know
You should crave with burning passion 
                to read every book, to get to know every life
You shouldn't exchange with anything
                the pleasure of drinking a cup of water
Yet be overcome with the yearning to live
                All joy that there is

And you should also live sorrow, honorably, 
                with your entire being
For, like joy, the pain, enables you growth
Your blood should mingle in the great circulation of life
Life's endlessly fresh blood should flow in your veins

I've learned some things from having lived:
If you live, you should live with might, 
                As though you are merging into the rivers,      
               Into the universe
For, what we call a human life is a gift given to life 
And life is a gift bestowed upon us

     Ataol Behramoğlu (b. 1942 in İstanbul, Turkey
     (Translated from the Turkish original)

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