The Sea

The sea dead calm. Fishing with a line,
I was all alone, lonely like a bird on the open sea.
Far away from the sorrows of the city,
I touched the veil that separates mortal beings from the heavens.
Murmurs from the sea, like breezes,
Like the voices of divine swans.
Sounds, every instant louder, more vibrant and tense
From a thousand lips, like an exuberant hymn,
Filled the sea’s horizon.
As the ballad of death spread; my face turned pale.
My heart, fearful like birds in this turmoil,
Uneasy, said: “Let’s go back!
Enough!.. Don’t surrender to the harmonies of the dead!”
Suddenly, a thrust from the horizon.
A sea creature parted the calm waters,
Seaweed hair, amiable, giant-like.
I wavered, it said:

“Since the sea’s voice has revealed to you its secret,
Come, break free from the geometry of your narrow being!
Cast yourself to the seas if your final joy is love, taste it!
The carrion around your neck, you call the beloved, be rid of it!
Eyes with languid lashes, full of betrayal,
Despite compassionate looks, long for an opportunity.

Do not be deceived that you thirst, it hungers;
You are a thirsty soul, it is mere flesh and hair.
To the open sea goes the road you await here today.
Throw your heart into the whirlpool, sail, become spirit!”

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

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