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Towards Freedom -- Orhan Veli

Guest poem submitted by Zeynep Dilli:
(Poem #469) Towards Freedom
'Ere the day dawns, while yet white are the seas, set out you will;
With the lust of holding the oars filling your palms,
The contentment of doing something filling you, go you will,
Go you will, as the waves stir;
Fish will be meeting you, you'll be glad;
As you pull the nets, the sea, in each scale will meet your hand.

When the souls of seagulls go quiet in their rock-tombs,
Suddenly, a turmoil will rise on the horizon;
Think you they are jellyfish? Think you they are birds?
Think you they are holidays, feasts? Celebrations, gatherings?
Wedding bells, headpieces, veils, ornaments?

Hey! What the hell are you waiting for, cast yourself into the sea!
They're waiting for you back there? Nevermind...
Don't you see that freedom is everywhere,
Be the sails, be the oars, be the tiller, be the fish, be the water,
Go... go... go--as far as you can go...
-- Orhan Veli
This is my attempt at translating a poem by Orhan Veli, who was one of the three
poets that lead the "new wave" of Turkish poetry in the 1940's, in a school
named "Strange". (The translation is probably not the best I could have done,
but it's towards the end of the semester and I'm tired. Deal. ;-) )

The tradition of poetry in the Ottoman Empire leaned towards very heavy,
"sticky" language and lots of idealizations, not to mention a very precise meter
structure. Besides that was the folk poetry, which was considerably simpler,
usually perpetuated through folk songs, with the simple meter and rhyming that

After the Turkish Revolution and the establishment of the Republic in 1923,
following the reforms in language that aimed at minimizing the effect of Arabic
and Persian cultures, the first renovators in poetry leaned towards folk poetry,
with its basic meter and rhyming schemes. One notable exception is Nazim Hikmet
Ran, a much-politically controversial poet, that I hope to submit a poem of one
of these days. Poetry as art came back to its own as the decades progressed,
with several schools emerging. _Strange_, with its departure from mainstream
poetry with freedom in form and rhyme, plus its incorporation of everyday
things  into poetry, like callouses and plastic combs that were never mentioned
before, is my favourite. The name of that school comes from a volume of poetry
by Orhan Veli.

Zeynep Dilli.


For another poem translated by a listmember, check out Sameer Siruguri's version
of Harivansh Rai Bachchan's 'Madhushala (The Tavern)', at poem #72.

These grad students have _way_ too much time on their hands... sort of like
options traders, I suppose <grin>.


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