Defense Against the Night

We present this work in honor of the Commemoration of Ataturk.

05-19 Daglarca
Fazıl Hüsnü Dağlarca
Turkish
1931 – 2008

 

This man is dead and gone but
Time did not fall in the ground for long.
To the trees we delivered his life.
To whom does his heart belong?

This man is dead and gone but
We could not leave the dead man’s side.
In the endless sorrow of our nights
Why does this pallor never subside?

This man is dead and gone but
Still the river would not stay,
And like the birds of a glorious fate
It can carry him away.

 

Translation by Talat Sait Halman

The Hidden Treasure Is in Me

We present this work in honor of National Sovereignty and Children’s Day.

04-23 Abdal
Kaygusuz Abdal
Turkish
1341 – 1444

The ocean, the endless sky,
the quarry and the gems are in me.
Open your eyes, look carefully:
both worlds are in me.

The spirit and the body,
the proof and the evidence,
both profit and loss—
the whole marketplace is in me.

I am the purpose of mankind,
the whirling movement of the earth;
I am the school and the knowledge—
the seal of completion is in me.

I am the Muslim. I am the Christian.
I am the place they both consider holy.
I am the crucified savior, the good and the evil—
whatever is—is in me.

I am the Infinite, the Eternal;
I am the wealthy and the poor;
I am the rememberer and what is remembered—
Faith and faithlessness are in me.

I am the idol that is worshipped,
the Kaaba* and the sacred relic—
the purpose of human beings
and all that comes with them is in me.

I am the light particle and the sun itself,
the hidden and the seen;
I am everything existing under its rays
Lover and Beloved are in me.

I am Kaygusuz Abdal, the soul in everyone.
I am the infinite and the eternal.
The hidden treasure is in me.

Advice

We present this work in honor of the 310th anniversary of the poet’s death.

04-10 Nabi
Yusuf Nabi
Turkish
1642 – 1712

 

Look you, most poetry of novice poets
Is lovelocks and hyacinths,
Roses and nightingales,
Wine and cup

They cannot leave
The orbit of the beloved
The body and cheek,
Lip and moist eye

Now they wander to spring,
Then to the meadow
And touch upon the cypress,
The rose and jasemin

They cannot walk
The untrodden path
Nor turn on
The less-travelled road

They can neither hunt
Poetry’s exalted ideas
Nor lasso the unseen world’s game

They make their way
On commonplaces
On well-known and experienced words

That double couplet bends
Under two donkey-loads of stuff
The cloth of its meaning
Cannot be fresh

So do not compose poetry
With empty words
Do not draw your net
Fishless from the sea

Days Do Not Pass

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 115th birthday.

02-25 Ali
Sabahattin Ali
Turkish
1907 – 1948

 

Flowers do not bloom here
Birds do not glide
Stars do not shine
Days do not pass

I pace the courtyard
Sometimes I sit and think
I see all kinds of dreams
Days do not pass, they do not

Say it’s spring outside
People wander around
Days fly by
Days do not pass, they do not

Old loves in my heart
Streams in my eyes
Your dream in the mirror cries
Days do not pass, they do not

A stranger sleeps next to me
Every word is bitter like poison
The strongest of all troubles
Days do not pass, they do not

 

Translation by Eda Savaseri

Dream of Istanbul

We present this work in honor of the 85th anniversary of the poet’s death.

12-27 Ersoy
Mehmet Akif Ersoy
Turkish
1873 – 1936

 

The boat was rolling over in an ocean…
The dream threw me on the shores of Marmara!
I saw from only a couple of miles away
your blackened Istanbul clear as crystal,
Its forehead shining like a crescent:
She’s laughing; coquettish, charming and attractive.

What base destitution now, alas!
What arrogance, what ostentation!
Many schools are opened, men and women study;
factories are in full steam, textile industries progress.
Printing houses work day and night.
New companies emerge for the benefit of the people,
New parties arise to enlighten the people,

Economy prospers
And ships unload wealth from length to length of her shores.

 

Translation by Mevlut Ceylan

Hymn on the Nativity

12-22 Ephrem
Ephrem of Nisibis
Turkish
c. 306 – 373

 

Your mother is a cause for wonder: the Lord entered her
and became a servant; He who is the Word entered
—and became silent within her; thunder entered her
—and made no sound; there entered the Shepherd of all,
and in her he became the Lamb, bleating as he came forth.
Your mother’s womb has reversed the roles:
the Establisher of all entered in His richness,
but came forth poor; the Exalted One entered her,
but came forth meek; the Splendrous One entered her,
but came forth having put on a lowly hue.
The Mighty One entered, and put on insecurity
from her womb; the Provisioner of all entered
—and experienced hunger; He who gives drink to all entered
—and experienced thirst: naked and stripped
there came forth from her He who clothes all.

 

Translation by Eugene Peterson

Door

In honor of Republic Day, we present this work by one of modern Turkey’s most prominent poets.

10-29 Keskin
Birhan Keskin
Turkish
b. 1963

 

Pass through me, I’ll remain, I’ll wait, pass through me,
but where you pass through me I cannot know.

I was told, there’s a ripe fruit behind the curtain of patience,
the world will teach you both patience, and the ripe fruit’s taste.

They said, you waited like these trees, a vision like these trees,
sorrowful like these trees.

I was opened, I was closed, opened, closed, I saw
those who went as much as those who came,
where is the end of patience, where the grief-stricken ass,
where the audacious fruit,
where is the garden?

If only someone would come… if only someone would see… someone had come… opened… stayed
she stays with me still.

For how long this emptiness rings within me, who
slayed the garden’s merry widow, the mulberry opposite me?
I glanced with it the most, wanted so much
just once for it to speak.

Were it all up to me I’d have kept quiet longer, yet I creaked wearily,
lest the rusted lock of my tongue be undone,
a stray line somewhere be hummed, the worms inside me crawl.

I saw it all, I saw it all, the end of patience!
if someone would come, would see, would see, now,
the wind is swaying me.

 

Translation by George Messo

You’re Gone—I’m Alone

In honor of the Turkish holiday, Victory Day, we present this work by one of the country’s most heartfelt poets.

08-30 Nesati
Neşâtî
Turkish
1623 – 1674

 

You’re gone—I’m alone in the company of longing
I no longer want sweet talk with friends if you’re not there

I dare not go to the garden without you
The laughing rose seems red as fire, the swaying cypress a pointed flame

Let me tear a cry from my breast, let me voice such pain
The wheel of the sky turns backward, along with the shining sun

The passing cup at the party is a whirlpool of sadness without you
A whirlpool of bright wine inside the turning bowl

What a shame! Poor Neşâtî is so sick with grief and pain
Both the skirt of companionship, and its collar, are torn by separation’s thorn

To Him Who is Feared

We present this work in honor of Tisha B’Av.

07-18 Ben Kalir
Eleazar Ben Kalir
Turkish
c. 570 – c. 640

 

To Him who is feared a Crown will I bring.
Thrice Holy each day acclaim Him my King;
At altars, ye mighty, proclaim loud His praise,
And multitudes too may whisper His lays.
Ye angels, ye men, whose good deeds He records—
Sing, He is One, His is good, our yoke is the Lord’s!
Praise Him trembling to-day, His mercy is wide—
Ye who fear for His wrath—it doth not abide!
Ye seraphim, high above storm clouds may sing;
Men and angels make music, th’ All-seeing is king.
As ye open your lips, at His Name they shall cease—
Transgression and sin—in their place shall be peace;
And thrice shall the Shophar re-echo your song
On mountain and altar to whom both belong.

 

Translation by Lady Katie Magnus

Sacred Are Our Women

We present this work in honor of the poet’s 65th birthday.

05-31 Ertan
Semra Ertan
Turkish
1956 – 1982

 

Waiting for them each quarter
Are neither surgeons nor doctors
They don’t have to travel to Paris or Nice
They don’t follow fashion trends –
Since they can’t find magazines and newspapers

Because the roads to the villages were blocked for months
But even if they could, they couldn’t read them
Because as children they were denied education, because
They were not sent to school

 

Translation by Verena Henneberger