2/12/2006

country

The clock chimed like a Chinese jar.
Bending my brim hat over my misery,
Out of my white insomnia, I,
Exiled to your face,
You woman,
You were in every secret corner,
Your shadow nettled on the dark street,
A child sang
Lullabies endlessly, and a violin
Lengthened the blue smile of a young mother,
And you gave birth in me to a love, with tender beauty,
To a hope, my reprisal on loneliness.

A lover possesses only his love,
And losing is harder than not finding,
Exile to your face, my woman!
I have not forgotten
Your eyes who are my brother,
Your forehead who is my child,
Your mouth who is my lover,
I have not forgotten your fingers
Who are my friends,
Your belly who is my wife,
Your front, your harlot's sides,
And your back,
And all these, all these, all these
I have not forgotten, how can I forget?

Strike a match, your voice flamed in blue,
Toward the forests echoing, your voice, the sound of your face,
Into my mouth you poured, thickly,
The secret thoughts
Of this dour-skinned, this strange, this Asiatic love,
In your poisoned forest, gasping,
I lived your short, terrifying reign,
And my heart, throbbing
In the tide of your hair, mixed
With the Black Sea,
Then with the Mediterranean,
Then with wider waters.

At night, the moon resurrects
The minarets,
In the streets where Koran pages are sold
Death flies with a somewhat beauty,
Death flies over child-soft faces,
I have passed so many times through those streets,
Your tongue's taste in my palate like seaweed,
Now misty, now glittering clear, now misty again,
Like some sea creatures echoing some rabbits,
Echoing Sundays, echoing the other days,
Echoing Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays.

A stalk bursts out in miniature a city,
Down this stalk, round these streets, I press for you,
I tie each thing in the world around you,
The gold standard, and the half-cut coins,
And the coins stamped without gold value,
And the right to press all these coins,
The Euphrates,
And its surrounding mountains,
The wide plains of Babylon and its hanging gardens,
The sea of Antalya,
And the depths of that water, the sea crabs,
The land crabs, the sand crabs, the louse crabs,
Circling love crabs, the hermits, stoned barnacles
All make toward you.

I who am a master in the art of dejection,
I feed with my life these falcons of sadness,
You whose alchemy I grasp and lose in the crowd,
Your absence has moved
From here, to there,
In your land where once joyful banquets reigned,
Now big beaks of lonely hours are circling,
Now please, once again, begin to undress
From your mouth,
Unleash, once again, all your beasts upon me,
Once again, come rising from the ruins,
Come to me, once again, and disperse me.

*Cemal Süreyya
Translated by Murat Nemet-Nejat

*ülke (country)

*Turkish Poetry in Translation

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