Tag Archives: translation

HAIKU in German

sinnlos die tränen
wenn eiskalt viele seelen
die menschheit schläft tief

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 1.17.2018

Free Translation (self):

senseless the tears
if ice-cold the many souls
humanity is in a deep sleep




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HAIKU in Turkish

ne çare ilk kar
çocukların kanını

görmüyor bile

(c) hülya n. yılmaz, 1.17.2018

Free Translation (self):

Alas! The first snow
does not even take notice
of the children’s blood

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. . .

gene çocuklar aciz
gene çocuklar yetişkin acılar içinde
oysa ki çocuklar hep gülmeli

onları biz istemedik mi . . .

Turkish original by hülya n. yılmaz (2.27.2016)


children are helpless again
children in adult-size suffering again

children however must smile always
must be able to smile

aren’t we after all who wanted them .  . .

English translation by hülya n. yılmaz (6.13.2016)





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An ode to art . . . in prose

Louise Glück, the 12th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry (2003-2004), enchants with her following words on the impact of the involvement with art:

It seems to me that the desire to make art produces an ongoing experience of longing, a restlessness sometimes, but not inevitably, played out romantically, or sexually. Always there seems something ahead, the next poem or story, visible, at least, apprehensible, but unreachable. To perceive it all is to be haunted by it; some sound, some tone, becomes a torment – the poem embodying that sound seems to exist somewhere already finished. It’s like a lighthouse, except that, as one swims toward it, it backs away.

The seed of the desire of which Glück speaks has been in me for so long that the resulting anguish leaves me restive – always. I am then “haunted by some sound [and] some tone,” but the “already finished” poem withdraws itself from my embrace as I risk my soul by letting it draw near it.

It was the sound and the sight of a waltz this time that hurled me into the open sea with the teasing promise of a beacon after the reach of which that elusive object of ultimate fulfillment would await me.

While Andre Rieu‘s  mesmerizing illumination of The Second Waltz  by Dmitri Shostakovich has instantly refined that desired sensation in me of creating a poem, one never materialized before this week’s post. The following lines I have penned, however, suggest to me that I will not abandon the commitment I made to my yearning for it . . .

Zum Allermindesten einmal hätte mich das Leben mit dem Glück beehren sollen, den Zauber des Walzers in deinen Armen zu erleben. ~ hülya n. yılmaz, 2.14.2016
~ ~ ~
Life should have granted me at least once the fortunate stroke of experiencing the magic of the waltz in your arms. (Own translation from the German original)



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…”On Living”, a poem by Nazım Hikmet as accompanied by Genco Erkal, Fazıl Say and Zühal Olcay…in my own English translation

 yaşamak şakaya gelmez,
büyük bir ciddiyetle yaşayacaksın
bir sincap gibi mesela,
yani, yaşamanın dışında ve ötesinde hiçbir şey beklemeden,
yani bütün işin gücün yaşamak olacak.

yaşamayı ciddiye alacaksın,
yani o derecede, öylesine ki,
mesela, kolların bağlı arkadan, sırtın duvarda,
yahut kocaman gözlüklerin,
beyaz gömleğinle bir laboratuvarda
insanlar için ölebileceksin,
hem de yüzünü bile görmediğin insanlar için,
hem de hiç kimse seni buna zorlamamışken,
hem de en güzel en gerçek şeyin
yaşamak olduğunu bildiğin halde.

yani, öylesine ciddiye alacaksın ki yaşamayı,
yetmişinde bile, mesela, zeytin dikeceksin,
hem de öyle çocuklara falan kalır diye değil,
ölmekten korktuğun halde ölüme inanmadığın için,
yaşamak yanı ağır bastığından.

diyelim ki, ağır ameliyatlık hastayız,
yani, beyaz masadan,
bir daha kalkmamak ihtimali de var.
duymamak mümkün değilse de biraz erken gitmenin kederini
biz yine de güleceğiz anlatılan bektaşi fıkrasına,
hava yağmurlu mu, diye bakacağız pencereden,
yahut da sabırsızlıkla bekleyeceğiz
en son ajans haberlerini.

diyelim ki, dövüşülmeye değer bir şeyler için,
diyelim ki, cephedeyiz.
daha orda ilk hücumda, daha o gün
yüzükoyun kapaklanıp ölmek de mümkün.
tuhaf bir hınçla bileceğiz bunu,
fakat yine de çıldırasıya merak edeceğiz
belki yıllarca sürecek olan savaşın sonunu.

diyelim ki hapisteyiz,
yaşımız da elliye yakın,
daha da on sekiz sene olsun açılmasına demir kapının.
yine de dışarıyla birlikte yaşayacağız,
insanları, hayvanları, kavgası ve rüzgarıyla
yani, duvarın ardındaki dışarıyla.

yani, nasıl ve nerede olursak olalım
hiç ölünmeyecekmiş gibi yaşanacak…

bu dünya soğuyacak,
yıldızların arasında bir yıldız,
hem de en ufacıklarından,
mavi kadifede bir yaldız zerresi yani,
yani bu koskocaman dünyamız.

bu dünya soğuyacak günün birinde,
hatta bir buz yığını
yahut ölü bir bulut gibi de değil,
boş bir ceviz gibi yuvarlanacak
zifiri karanlıkta uçsuz bucaksız.

şimdiden çekilecek acısı bunun,
duyulacak mahzunluğu şimdiden.
böylesine sevilecek bu dünya
“yaşadım” diyebilmen için…

~ Nazım Hikmet

On Living 

(own unrevised and unedited translation, 11.29.2014)

living shouldn’t be taken lightly,

you must take it very seriously

like a squirrel, for instance,

in other words, without expecting anything else beyond living,

in other words, to live as if it were your job to do so.

you should take living seriously,

 to such extentfor example,

to be able to die for people,

with your arms tied, your back against the wall,

or in a laboratory, with your huge eye glasses in your white coat,

to die for people whose faces you haven’t seen even once,

and even then when no one has forced you to do so,

while knowing that living is the most beautiful the most real thing.

in other words, you should take living so seriously

that you will plant, for example, an olive at the age of seventy,

and not at all for thinking to leave it for the children or the like,

but rather for not believing in death although you fear dying,

because living by far outweighs it.

let’s say, we are sick on the verge of a serious surgery,

in other words, it is possible not to be ever get up

off of the white table.

it will, of course, be impossible not to sorrow over leaving a little soon

we’ll still laugh at the Bektaşi joke told to us,

we’ll still check the weather from the window to see if it had rained,

or shall wait impatiently for the latest broadcasting news.

let’s imagine, we are at the front

for the sake of things worth fighting.

it is possible to die right there and then face down

at the onset of the first attack.

we’ll be aware of this potential with slight anger,

but shall maddeningly wonder the end of the war

one that may last for years.

 let’s say, we are in jail,

on top of it, our age has reached fifty,

and there await eighteen more years for the iron doors to open up.

we’ll still continue to live together with the outside,

along with that beyond the wall,

in other words, its people, its animals, its struggles and its wind.

in other words: no matter how and where we are

there must be living taking place as were there no dying…

this world will be cold,

one star among many others,

the tiniest, at that,

in other words, our whale of a world,

a sparkling particle on the blue velvet.

this world will turn cold someday,

not even like a stack of ice

nor like a dead cloud,

but rather like a sere walnut

it will roll in a vast darkness, on and on.

the pain of it will be lived in the now already,

the sadness will be felt in the present as well.

that’s how this world must be lived

in order to be able to say “I have lived”… 



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“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



Oh! Since İstanbul has been İstanbul

It never saw such grief

I am dying of his love

Nothing is left from my pride



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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