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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.

Poems by Mehmet Taner

Aug 27, 2021 | Poetry | 0 comments

Translated from the Turkish by Neil P. Doherty

Let the bride be more beautiful
Than the blue light called down
Than the steep cliffs, the whisper of water, than the fig
Than the month of Shawwal, than Jerusalem
Than the fire
More beautiful even than the cabins
Than the ring on her finger stripped bare
Than the steam on a damp tongue
From a supposed springtime
Than the cliffs, the whisper of water, than the fig
Let the bride be more beautiful
So the groom will be more handsome still
In this the space age
Recourse was had to nail polish lace mascara lipstick and signatures

In the month of Shawwal a journey was undertaken to Jerusalem
The dead-nettles of the Caucasus emerald and ablaze


Chinese Poems


In the garden where we parleyed
I sat & wrote
Poems of days past

What rain there was that day, what electricity


The janitor’s daughters are gathering honey
In the garden, their cardigans all red
But in me
There is no honey, no honey at all.


‘Three balls of light burst’
Over evening
& the three trees

One open
The other withdrawn
The third fully

Three balls of light burst
Each one brighter
than the other



In silent, abandoned thoughts
The fog, the stone shining in the fog
No matter how tired you are
There is someone waiting for you

There is someone, stretched into the snow
His place empty now

On the steppe the cold northern sun
Dark smoke seeping from long, distant chimneys
Heart crushed, glass shattered, blood loosened
The horned owl has come and perched quietly
On the back of the bustling lightning



River slipping under the trees. Summertime. Who
knows what word bewitched the children playing in the
deep shade. I fell silent in the splendour of a king,
a ladybird silencing the universe yet again.

The breeze swelling the thin curtains
lights up my poor wine


Extended Breath

I am rebelling against loneliness
I am rebelling against pain
I am rebelling against hopelessness

I am rebelling against my impoverished soul
Against drink, poison and boredom
Against the taste of mud
Against the finity & infinity of the sky, of life
Against obscure poems
Against my sulky face, my sick & tired face
Oh mother, father, sister and brothers
My friends, my confidants,
My trees, my honey, my birds;
I am rebelling
By swearing an oath
On the warm blood of the young dead
By swearing an oath
On my homeland, on the language I speak, on the light
That has reached right up to me;
By swearing an oath
On the honour of carrying
This light.

Goodbye to you too oh magic!
Oh clear pebble, oh tiny cloud!
Oh alchemy dwelling on the ends of my eyes!
Goodbye to you in the parks of flesh & memory
Unsettling seductive night


Mehmet Taner was born in the province of Nevşehir in Central Anatolia in 1946. To date he has written seven books of poetry. His work is marked by a deep lyricism and a willingness to play with older forms such as the rubai and the Ottoman aruz metre but he has also displayed a willingness to explore newer forms. He began writing at a time when a great deal of Turkish poetry tended towards the political and many poets seemed intent on sloganeering. Taner’s poetry was seen as mathematical, hermetic and complex. However, the influential critic Mehmet H. Doğan declared him to be the bearer of the “good news of an awakening, a breaking of the shell in our poetry”. Another important critic, Orhan Koçak, states that “we are faced with a poetry that does not flee or try to amend its own strangeness”.

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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