Home > Translation > Two poems from the Turkish by Ahmet Uysal

Two poems from the Turkish by Ahmet Uysal

February 4, 2011

translated by Nesrin Eruysal and Ken Fifer


yine görmeye geldim işte:
sevdiklerim yerinde mi,
çakıllar arasından nazla
akıp duran o yaz nehri!

homeros’un zeytin ağacı ki;
pembe zakkum dalları
tutunmuş oyuk gövdesine,
bülbüller üstünde bütün gece.

çizikler atıp durdu utanmaz,
cilveli çapkın böğürtlen,
sarı gül/haspa, dikenli cadı,
kanattı ilk öpüşte dudağımı.

gökyüzü eğildi üzerime
birden ışıklar sardı bedenimi,
mercan döküldü yüreğimden
damla damla yeryüzüne!


I came back again to see
If those I’ve loved are still in place,
Rivers rushing
To tickle the pebbles!

Homer’s olive tree,
Pink oleander branches
Clinging to carved bodies,
All night long with the nightingales on.

Shameless wild blackberries,
Showing off their scratches,
Coy yellow roses, witches with thorns,
Who make my lips bleed when we kiss.

The sky, bent over me,
All of a sudden lights on my body,
Corals spill from my heart and fall
Drop by drop into the earth!

* * *

Lirik Ezgiler

aşkın şiirini de yazmamı
söylüyor bu sabah,
ıslak kanatlı martılar

iki dilin birleştiği duraktan
geliyormuş, gülhatmi yaprağı
kokan ege rüzgârı

kanatları ezgi yüklü
yaban arısı, yoklayıp duruyor
pencerede buğulanan soluğumu

ne tuhaf, yaşlandıkça
ölümü değil, kumsalda salınan
mavi çiçekli otları düşünüyorum

karamsar olmanın zamanı değil,
yalın sözler aramak
varken ıssız patikalarda

bin tanrılı hitit toprağından,
bin pınarlı ida’ya göç etmenin
lirik ezgisi var dilimde


Wet-winged seagulls
Tell me to write a love poem
This morning.

From a stopover between kisses,
The Aegean wind rises
Smelling of hollyhocks.

With buzzing wings
A wasp inspects
My breath as it mists the window.

It’s strange, as I grow old
I think of weeds with blue flowers
Swaying on shore, never of death.

There’s no time to be a pessimist.
I’d rather look for simpler words
And more overgrown paths,

From the Hittite land with one thousand gods
To Mount Ida with one thousand springs,
Songs for transients.

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(Thanks to Hayri Çelebi at Ankara University for recording the part in Turkish.)

Ahmet Uysal (b. 1938 in Balikesir, Turkey) worked as a teacher and administrator at elementary, high school and vocational education schools in Balikesir, Yozgat, Çanakkale and Bursa, and later as a Ministry of National Education’s Primary School inspector. Since publishing his first poem in 1954, his poems, short stories and critical essays have appeared widely, winning numerous awards. The founder and editor of the literary magazine Stories for Children, he has written more than 120 books for children, winning both the Unesco Special Award and Sedat Simavi Foundation’s Children’s Year Special Award for Once and Twice Upon A Time (1979). His poetry books include With Waters (Yeni Biçem Yay, 1994); Long Gone Summers (Düslem Yay, 1998), recipient of the Ceyhun Atuf Kansu Poetry Award; The Silence of Suffering (Bilgi Yay, 1999), recipient of the Yunus Nadi Poetry Award; Fugitive Poetry (Imbat Yay, 2006); and Paper Marbling of September (Mühür Kitapligi, 2009), recipient of the Ergin Günçe Poetry Award. He currently lives in Edremit/Altinoluk.

Nesrin Eruysal is a literary scholar and translator of two books, Corporate Religion (Mediacat, 2002) and A Company of Citizens (Mediacat, 2005). She has published a number of articles that explore the relationship between literature and Jungian thought and is the author of “I Wish That Jewish Doctor Had Come Earlier” (Gozlem Publication Company, 2002).

Ken Fifer lives in Center Valley, Pennsylvania, and is a Professor of English at Penn State University, Berks campus. His own poems and his translations of contemporary Turkish poetry have appeared in many journals, including Barrow Street, New Letters, Ploughshares, and The Wolf (UK). He has published four collections of poetry, the most recent being After Fire.

  1. February 4, 2011 at 4:26 pm

    I just love these, especially “Coral.” Thank you!

  2. February 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

    And my heart beats faster when I read “Songs”. I can smell these hollyhocks. Wonderful.

  3. stu barnes
    February 6, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    ‘Coral’: “Shameless wild blackberries/Showing off their scratches” – beautiful …
    ‘Songs’: “A wasp inspects/My breath as it mists the window” – dark, beautiful …
    Thank you!

  4. Alex
    February 7, 2011 at 12:42 am

    Thank you Ken and Nesrin for giving us Uysal’s work. “… As I grow old/
    I think of weeds with blue flowers/ Swaying on shore, never of death.” There’s much for the ages here. I was reminded of Theodore Roethke’s “The Far Field,” one of my all-time favorites.

  5. Amy White Berger
    February 7, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Powerful, soulful work. Beautiful.

  6. February 9, 2011 at 6:17 am

    Lovely uplifting poems,

    ‘… as I grow old
    I think of weeds with blue flowers
    Swaying on shore, never of death.

    There’s no time to be a pessimist.
    I’d rather look for simpler words
    And more overgrown paths’

    these lines give me such heart.

  7. February 21, 2011 at 3:49 pm

    I’ve just read the two poems with greater pleasure than the first time!
    Many thanks.

  8. Roberta Burnett
    March 20, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Your “Songs” moves me deeply. It’s one of those poems I wish I’d written. Thank you, both.

  1. May 9, 2011 at 3:30 pm
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