In honor of National Sovereignty and Children’s Day, we present this work by one of Turkey’s cleverest poets.
Come hither, Mistrel of the Feast of Time,
Whose minstrelsy ennobleth every clime!
As thou the songster at Joy’s Banquet art,
Wilt thou not look on us in kindly part?
Let all the feast be filled with melody,
Let beauties carol in thy company.
Be all the instruments of music blent,
And let the veil of mystery be rent.
For each is potent in some gramarye,
Magicians some, and some enchaters be.
The Harp in magic craft is great of worth,
It brings the new moon down from heaven to earth.
The Mandoline pursues its humours e’er;
If thou would have it sing, then twist its ear.
The Mandoline can’t grapple with the Lute;
Then why torment itself when naught can boot?
A spell it sings when chants the Dulcimer;
It is the ruler for Love’s register.
No Tabret deem that in the minstrel’s hand,
A target ‘tis woe’s arrows to withstand.
What wonder if it all the world o’erthrow? —
The bandit Viol’s armed with shaft and bow.
Amid the feast to call me into mind
The Flute a thread doth round its finger bind.
Where bides one like the Ghittern sweet of say,
The chosen, the elect of the array?
Since joy of soul doth from their voices tide,
Withouten music let no party bide.
Sweet dream it was and also sweet affliction,
when I was dreaming that it was a dream;
a sweet delight I’d take in what deceived me,
if only that deception longer seemed;
a sweet not being in myself, I saw
every good thing I’d ever want to see;
a sweet pleasure it was, though so intense
that sometimes it would just awaken me:
oh sleep, how much more gentle and delightful
you’d be if you would come so heavily
that with more calm you’d set on me your weight!
For while I slept, in short, I was in bliss,
and it is right that one be blessed in lies
who’s always been in truth unfortunate.
Was this the face that launch’d a thousand ships,
And burnt the topless towers of Ilium?
Sweet Helen, make me immortal with a kiss.
Her lips suck forth my soul: see where it flies!
Come, Helen, come, give me my soul again.
Here will I dwell, for heaven is in these lips,
And all is dross that is not Helena.
I will be Paris, and for love of thee,
Instead of Troy, shall Wittenberg be sack’d;
And I will combat with weak Menelaus,
And wear thy colours on my plumed crest;
Yea, I will wound Achilles in the heel,
And then return to Helen for a kiss.
O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars;
Brighter art thou than flaming Jupiter
When he appear’d to hapless Semele;
More lovely than the monarch of the sky
In wanton Arethusa’s azur’d arms;
And none but thou shalt be my paramour!
I look for life in death,
for health in sickness,
for freedom in prison,
a way out from the impasse,
and loyalty in the Judas.
But my destiny, from which I would
never expect anything good,
has decreed with the Gods
that, since I ask for the impossible,
they won’t even give me the possible.