Tree and Ivy

Here, in this old infirmary,
There stayed two young lovers.
The girl’s room was dark,
The boy’s smaller.

Every morning, they met in the courtyard,
A sandglass was their timer.
Fairies surrounded the girl,
The boy rode a magical horse.

Finally, the young lovers
Regained their health.
The joy of living
Suddenly ended.

For the last time, they met
And swore not to part;
Deceiving every one,
They entered the infirmary again.

In the end, Al-Khidr had mercy on them;
While the doctor was sleeping,
He put his elixir
Into their medicine.

As the two lovers drank it,
In a different world, they ended.
The girl was a tree, the boy an ivy
In the infirmary’s desolate garden.

Ahmet Kutsi Tecer (1901-1967). Ağaçla Sarmaşık. Translated from the Turkısh.

Al-Khidr,” the green one”, a legendary Islamic figure endowed with immortal life. According to some, identified with St. George.

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Mirror

The mirror a blind person holds in his hand,
Reflects his face to him
And he touches it,
Searching quietly for his eyes.

My eyes, O God, where are my eyes?
In which rivers, which floods?
Curtains, wherever I turn my face,
Where, I wonder, should I trace my eyes?

My face is in the mirror, I know,
My day is my night, my night is my day.
Before me, my eyes reach the mirror,
Sadness gently remains with me.

Ahmet Kutsi Tecer (1901-1967). Ayna. Translated from the Turkish.

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Tete-a-tete

Two roses blossoming in a vase,
Delicate lace fern in a pot.
My heart, a nightingale as it views the roses,
As I look at the pot, a feeling of joy inside me.

Storm, howling, blizzard outside,
You could almost hold the room’s stillness.
Yes, the landlord is back now,
We sit down, have a little chat about the old days.

Storm, blizzard outside… Snow on the ground,
Inside, two happy people, tete-a-tete.
An old spring warms them up,
A new winter, frost outside.

Ahmet Kutsi Tecer (1901-1967). Başbaşa. Translated from the Turkish.

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By Night

In the dark by night
I cast my voice into the water
Instantly, the boat sailing in the sea
Became a song

In the dark by night
I smiled at a cloud
Suddenly, the rain falling on your hair
Became a rainbow

In the dark by night
I caught a star in the sky
It sent its light to you
A rose blossomed in your heart

Ülkü Tamer (1937-2018). Geceleyin. Translated from the Turkish.

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The Bell at the Gate

One day, before your hand reaches the railings,
The bell clangs, trembles.
As seasons have gone by,
Let me be called by this sound…

Pass quickly under the boughs, along the sandy path,
The steps are opposite,
As you jump from the threshold onto the stone slab,
Let the sounds stay with me…

My door, ajar, push it,
The room is as warm as the day you left.
Murmuring, like the gentle sound of water,
Let regret pour out of your heart…

Ahmet Kutsi Tecer (1901-1967). Çıngırak. Translated from the Turkish.

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Princess Mehlika

Seven young men in love with Princess Mehlika
Set out at night from the city’s gate;
Seven young men were all
Madly in love with Princess Mehlika

Enchanted, since like a phantom
She appeared in their dreams,
To Mount Qaf, they went,
To see the mysterious beauty.

All wearing woollen cloaks,
Hearts aching, for days they travelled;
At each nightfall, saying,
“This, perhaps, is the last evening.”

The exile of desire has no ending;
Always, roads grow longer, hearts feel sad;
Each traveller keeps walking as life goes on,
Dying before they reach their destination.

The madly in love with Mehlika,
Came to a well with no pulley,
The madly in love with Mehlika
Anxiously looked at the water.

“A secret world in the mirror”, they saw,
“Cypress trees of death all around…”
They thought for a moment,
The fairy with almond eyes and long hair was born.

The youngest of the sorrowful travellers
Gazed at the ruined well.
And after quite some time, took a silver ring
Off his finger and threw it into the water.

As if the water had seeped away, it became a dream!
They reached the final phase of their journey;
An imaginary world appeared,
Into that world they all passed

Seven young men in love with Princess Mehlika,
Many years have gone by, they have not yet returned;
Seven young men in love with Princess Mehlika
Will not come back, it is said!

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (1884-1958). Mehlika Sultan. Translated from the Turkish.

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A Far Away Village

A far away village,
Our village.
Even though we don’t go there,
It’s our village.

A far away house,
Our house.
Even though we don’t live there,
It’s our house.

A far away sound,
Our sound.
Even though we don’t hear it, make it,
It’s our sound.

A far away mountain,
Our mountain.
Even though we don’t climb it,
It’s our mountain.

A far away road,
Our road.
Even though we don’t come and go there,
It’s our road.

Ahmet Kutsi Tecer (1901-1967). Orda Bir Köy Var Uzakta. Translated from the Turkish.

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