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Let’s all remember that more and more poetry gets lost without earnest attempts at translation.Read poetry here to get a glimpse of the rhythms and resonances of languages you don’t know.

İlhan Berk

Mar 6, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Turkish by Neil P. Doherty
Goat Path

Idly I sat down and listened to the wind
on her way back from Sagittarius
Then onto the utterances of the river I passed.
The night laden with grass
as I strolled by it did not see me.

The road lifted its head
and looked
(lichens and grey weeds)

I am aged water.
Speak to me of the forest’s voice
of the voice of the meadows.

Silence always this silence

Take me up to the goat path
I cannot die here


Yesterday I Took to the Mountains, I Wasn’t In.

In my pocket the sun has spawned a cloud. Stone is blind, I wrote. Death has no future, things have only their names. And: “A name is a home” (Who was it that said that?) Yesterday I took to the mountains, I wasn’t in. A cliff looked at us, and what it said has remained in my mind. It is thus we sense what is infinite in itself. Objects are just those that are held in time. Every spring the fleece of Hermes Trismegistus, kindling pedlar to the tailors, would rise up. Rain cannot but rain. Stone cannot but fall.

What was I saying, the world has no thoughts. Grass does not grow bored. The pencil thinks itself a tree and the horizon a hoopoe bird. No matter what you say, the world exists to be turned into myth. And so it can have no other ending. Turning into myth, becoming myth. That is what we call infinity.

Wherever I start from, there is where I return. I am going. To work on death, to polish that grand sentence.



I have read all things, the open and talkative gardens,
and attested to the incurableness of words,
of the pencil.
One day I saw an insect changing place
as though
it knew something.

And so I pondered the positions of death,
of the cube, the pyramid and the cylinder.

There is no one thing that is incorrect.

Of all things the best is water.
One evening it told me of the places it had seen.

I left the water and its shade.
It is the finite one should pore over.

Let the trees give it my name

İlhan Berk

İlhan Berk

İlhan Berk, one of Turkey’s most innovative and influential poets, was born in 1918 in the Aegean city of Manisa. Over the course of his life he wrote more than two dozen books of poetry, as well as volumes of critical and autobiographical prose. He was a leading member of what came to be described as the İkinci Yeni, the Second New movement which completely transformed Turkish poetry. He was experimenting with new forms and new ways of expression up until he died in 2008 in the city of Bodrum.

Neil P. Doherty

Neil P. Doherty

Neil P. Doherty is a translator born in Dublin, Ireland in 1972 who has resided in Istanbul since 1995. He currently teaches in Bilgi University. He is a freelance translator of both Turkish and Irish poetry. In 2017 he edited Turkish Poetry Today, which was published in the U.K by Red Hand Books. His translations have appeared in Poetry Wales, The Dreaming Machine, The Honest Ulsterman, Turkish Poetry Today, Arter (İstanbul), Advaitam Speaks, The Seattle Star, The Enchanting Verses and The Berlin Quarterly.


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