A Poem in the Manner of Karacaoglan

Melih Cevdet Anday


No one celebrates the Elbistan meadow.
It opens its arms to the wind like dawn, a refined gazelle.
Summer brings the balmy weather of the time I knew,
Like a nightingale singing in fresh, hanging grapes.
Hesitant morning sets the purple hyacinth free.
Delight I've never known extracts lies from my heart
And it enjoys, for a time, the quince in the branches.
A crane flaps its wings, sapling of dawn.
I know well Ismail Bey's high plateau with its cold running waters,
The rose's branch, as tall as four men, that winds around the cypress,
High up and coiled in the fog, with an aroma like wine.
There you can see the heavy-headed pool quake
Like purple clouds that deceive the birds.
It's time for the ant that never knew childhood to grow up,
The sun droning like a cicada, an idol like a man,
The shouting flower of my freedom, respected.
The weeds whisper into the ear of the stream,
The heart's flower comes down to earth from the heights.
One can see a falcon's nest in the Koja Binboğa,
Its morning flowers dazzle the eye,
They pulse in the heart of wind like the chiming of a bell.
In the moonlight dragons descend with their eyes full of stars
To the valley where thousands of flowers play . . .
Tonight, tonight let's sleep in the Binboğa, my horse.


My horse's saddle blanket was woven in Ogrek,
His shoes were poured of solid silver.
I see my beloved, her red apron, her veiled face,
Now is her time to be kissed and savored.
The bud not picked in time becomes a rose leaf.
Sorrow has ploughed our garden all these years,
Despair remains within us
Like a branch of the unknown without a future.
We fill in what we don't understand with respect for emptiness.
In Ogrek, torrents pouring down cover the level plains
And birds seem even more abundant,
More crowded than the gloom of endless night.
I carry a heavy portion of the lake of melancholy.
Before evening ends, the mystery of night begins.
Before night ends, day is always on its way.
They walk away to their expected places.
I wandered like bees that can't find their own doors,
A perversion of death that doesn't wait for the future.
I was like a reed that didn't know what it was.
How often I studied the green winter of my heart.
Where was my youth?
I wore the dervish coat of crimson green,
I threw silver coins to the gypsy tambourines.
Tonight, my horse, we'll sleep in Ogrek.


I have three sorrows that can't be distinguished,
One is separation, one poverty, one death.
I don't even have a wretched shack to live in,
I pass my evening batting away wasps.
The dirt pile in my heart is lightened by birds,
Grief looks for its hot soup in my stewpot.
It's a window for me to weep through,
Rain wiped by the window's own handkerchief.
But this balmy summer rain makes the heart leaf out.
A girl touches her breasts in front of the leaves.
We wash our faces in the night breeze
As the dejected vehicle of wind distracts us
And the setting sun extinguishes the window's lamp.
As in a flood, the day dries up, a branch walks into the night.
We will arrive, my horse, we will rap the door-knocker,
The door to moonlit lambs, side by side in the fog.
The cypress will ever so slowly roll among the stars,
The moon's hennaed hands will brush my beloved's face,
We'll see birds talking with transparent beaks,
Unheard-of delicacies, combs from Fizan,
Silken shawls, double-sided ivory mirrors . . .
My horse, if tonight you are too hot-blooded,
I will sleep in the embrace of my beloved, O my horse.

translated from the Turkish by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad