Bridge to Global Literature

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.

Regarding Love and Other Poems— Cahit Zarifoğlu

Aug 28, 2023 | Poetry | 1 comment



Translations dedicated to Paulette C Turcotte


Poem of the Blue Sacred Child

Your hands rose right up to the centre of the sky
In the field
His glance is pushed deeper
And deeper into the earth’s soil
He in his long waiting unaware
And even they unaware

Did the waters understand
The mountains perceive
Or a flower all of a sudden?

One day
On any given moment
Though a steely moment

And all raised their heads
And straightaway the trace of their hands fell on their faces

Raucous and hazy and long
The shadow of an eagle passed and passed
Over the feet of Zarathustra

Regarding Love

Such tables have I seen
human muscle heaped on plates

Before those bent bodies loneliness
was smashing everything far from each other
a woman
a man

Breathing secretly
the man was showing the inertia of the hunt
keeping it from his hunting friend
and through the rushes in the reed bed
taking separating
the warm and sticky whispers
he was wrapping them around his body like a rope

While able to resemble everything
while nothing resembled him

That famed trumpet
if it starts to blow
through the roots of our hair – the humour
of a predatory animal will collar us

Is that a man, lain
on the lake in a bunch of sun,
in that violet ray
lying like a dead dog

Sliding hastily by
the shadow of a wild duck perhaps

Swiftly Flowing Spear

It’s morning
In calm the warm roofs of night
Applaud and
Light up one side
Of a teacup left on the breakfast table

Shapely, meek now
Radiant, a mouth
Secretly carries the cell into the whole
Up on the telegraph wire that springs to mind
Two doves
With their thinned, softened beaks kiss

The fleeting spear is
Solid and steadfast
On his much cherished horse he who cast it
Is doubtlessly now on his way

The spear flits past the light
The night and the darkness that fills it up


The branches before my hands
They too have clasped the leaves
I cannot see the slope opposite
Have I set out early
Is it I who am late
Or is it I who am late

Ahead of us a sycamore too rises
Every night the horsemen come and
Epically converse, then they go
Their swarthiness
Their blazing dried lips remain onto morning

My friend I am frozen you said
Do not be
I am afraid- do not be
I am running away- but do not
I am trembling from thought- but yes, do

Morning traffic
Who looks at the sycamore
Who passes through the branches
Is it spring that is coming
On the neighbour’s balcony
The washing is colour fully coloured

Girls propped their breasts
Against spring’s tree
Against the first
Blooming flower

With the bees the men grapple
The bees, every flying flower
And the dust carried in their feet
They flow as they are carried away
To the feminine in the houses of leaf

You are late my friend
On which day will the sun rise
They have said but you did not hear you are late
Sit and cry then eat your fill at my table
Hold the bread taste the olive
As you chase your hunger away
Look how the soldiers of the moonage
Have arrived warring and overturning eras
Have blackened the dark, held the roads
Hidden as they are in the horses’ kicks

Look how they have mounted the war.
To the sycamore at night they came and conversed
They uttered words they sharpened phrases
They made the gravest difficulty easier
So, lay claim to stone iron
And flame
Even to ash


Also, read three Italian poems, written by Diego Valeri, translated into English by Laura Valeri, and published in The Antonym:

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Cahit Zarifoğlu

Cahit Zarifoğlu

Cahit Zarifoğlu (1940 –1987) was born in Ankara and studied German Language and Literature. Over the course of a relatively short writing life he managed to publish five highly regarded collections of poetry, two novels, two collections of short stories, a play, a diary, two collections of essays and several books of both prose and poetry for children. He worked as teacher, translator and published before his early death in 1987 at the age of 47. He remains a well-respected poet in both Islamic and left-wing circles.

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.

1 Comment

  1. Jhelum Tribedi

    The translations are very lucid and apt… 🍁


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