"Poetry, painting and a life full of love..."
 
YUKSEL SOYLEMEZ11-06-1913  /  22-01-2013Poetry, painting and a life full of love...
 
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Poetry


Introduction And Translations By Courtesy Of Nermin Menemencioglu


When Yüksel Söylemez joined the Turkish diplomatic service at the age of 27 in 1958, he had already published a book of poems (1953), held his first exhibition of papier collages (1955), translated two plays by William Saroyan and worked as a theatre and arts critic (1955-56).

During an active diplomatic career with posts on three continents, he has exhibited his paintings in Bangkok, Ankara, New York, Geneva, Cambridge and London, and published two further books of poems in 1966 and 1979, The proceeds of his one-man exhibition in Ankara (1972) were used for the construction of a one-room primary school in the village of Emirtolu, near Sinop and all proceeds from subsequent exhibitions have been given to the school.

While his painting technique is entirely non-representational, his poems give swift glimpses of reality, of memories, emotions or thoughts that flash through the mind, Sometimes they are not unlike the Japanese haiku, though their form is not as rigidly set, They may also be said to be in the tradition of the Turkish Garip (or Strange) school of poetry which flourished in the forties but whose impact is still felt by contemporary poets.

The poems in this first collection in English are taken from his last two books: Seytantirnagi (Hangnail) and Simidin Susami (The Sesame on the Roll)

 

Twins

At the sign of gemini
Born of a single egg
Together we shared the darkness
Of our mothers womb
Watched the same film together
Slept in the same cradle
Sat on the same chamber pot
Once upon a time
When the fleas were towncriers
Long afterward
I an official of rank and station
An excellency a right honourable
You incorrigible unabashed
Idler with his head in the clouds
Sometime poet sometime painter
This that and the other
I your brother

Song to Istanbul


With its skyline minarets
Its seven hills its bridge its golden horn
Its shanties and its palaces
Its mansions built of wood
Istanbul unfolds in the distance
Toward constantinople rome byzantium
Oars delight in slicing its surface
On august evenings i walk to the bridge
And press the button of the city
Light all its oil candles
Stir its phosphorescence out of sleep
Raki bottle on a table by the offshore breeze
Titbits to eat lute song friend sweetheart
I wiill build you an instanbul
Of two thousand noble elegant hennaed years
With all its salutations and its greetings
Look for no better reunion in your dreams
Apartment house

Rising floor by floor
As I live
An apartment house built of memories
Praise

Had I known
The world was so beautiful
I might have lived at least once
Before I died
Blue bead

I love you
And her too
My blue bead
Is the world
Train

As I go
So goes the train
Its steam left on the way
The trees take my mind
And go back and back
Rain

You a cloud
You became rain
And rained into my eyes
The world

I went out
I was surprised
There was the world outside
The seasons

Together with the seasons
I break into bud
I flower i give fruit
With the seasons I am happy
With the seasons an optimist
With the seasons full of pain
With the seasons a pessimist
With the four seasons I am four different men
I die with the seasons
And with the seasons i live a new
Promise

Birds shall fly past in flocks
You shall catch them with your hands
Their hearts shall throb in your palms
Fish shall come in thousands
Their scales remain shining in your hands
Happiness everywhere for everyone
I promise you
Wait
Endurance

I should stop with the bullets
Die like everyone else
A knife in my back
A bullet in my heart
I keep walking
What is important

Let the eye behold itself
If it is so easy
Story for the universe

In the beginning of the universe
The first law was non-being
It grew with utmost speed
Ideas matter time
Were far away as yet
A freakish growth
Beyond computing
In its progress into emptiness
It grew dense
Its denseness a kernel
It found a way to multiply
The first kernel split into two
And being was born
Being meant becoming
Becoming was non being is law
Emptiness filled with the shriek of genesis

First the seed
First the root
The trunk
First the branch
The leaf
First the flower

The fruit
The seed the sky the trunk the leaf
Spreading branch by branch
From the soil to the trunk
First life
First

First the seed
Then you
First the soil
Then you
First the seed
First water
First life
First you
Then all white death
Then you

I was born
So began my death like sleep
We plants began
We humans were born on earth
In earth we sleep
We were born to pain
We exist only in pain
If a breath rises from the earth warm

he who looks for me will find me in that breath
With man is breath the world began
We hold our breath with fear
We were born
Then came death and time
I think of death at all times
My deathlike sleep has begun

From dreams from thoughts
Eyes turned to the beautiful
We have closed our eyes
Deathlike sleep ploughed its fields
The earth filled its claws
Crops awakened
Seeds full of tears
The daughters of the earth
Stretched in the sun
Then returned to deathlike sleep
They sleep deaf sulking
We are the seeds all along the earth
We are in deathlike sleep
Resentful of dreams and thoughts
Prod us awaken us
Letter

This arm this leg
Are now part of the world
I did not take them with me
I left them to you
We
The dead pieced together end to end
Who do not live on earth are
Do not fear
Not here either
News

I have news for you
Through the slits of your eyelids
Shoes in hand
I am about to enter your dreams
Jealous

I will share your looks with the world
When my right eye is jealous of my left
Here

Who said
That they should not be seen
The blue and the green
Here is the sea
Here is the tree
Lie

Distances are asleep
Memories cannot hear
Lest you stay with me
Old mansion

Eyes closed i breathe its smells
My memory imprisoned in its rooms
Its curtains of crimson satin
Its golden tassels reflect their lights
In the gilt of the woodwork
The chaises of the first and second constitution
Arrive at the mansion
Their lanterns glow in plane tree alleys
There stood the stately home of ahmed eyub pasha
Now two blocks seven floors each
Coral

Return to an old time address
And forgetfulness opens wide its gates
Lost strangers welcome your delight
Inquire about the girls next door
And faces are suddenly lined
They must be embroidering napkins
Their doors and windows are closed
The smoke scatters spreads
On the coral beads one by one
Of memory is chaplet
longing for Istanbul

I think
On the day i die
There will still be streets in ıstanbul
Where i have never walked
Explanation

You did not come
Means the roads had ended
Reunion

Memories sweep the eyes
To other seas
Tears are washed in the water
Crystal clear
The wall

Suddenly a wall
Rose between us
I will bring it back
It promised
As it borrowed our shadow
And was gone
The computer

Its mind pegged to nuts and bolts
Affixed to screws and gimlets
It considers the given task
Taut as an iron bow
Its feet the prisoners of cement
It reasons calculates plans
Sifts through data and numbers
Numbers and data
Facts facts facts
Yet in its heart the computer
Dreams of roaming the streets
Stone

One rock in love with another
One stone in search of a loved one
And in the heat of love
Stones boil and melt into each other
Two is bigger and heavier than one
The rock in love
Takes off and flies in joy
Apology

I died all of a sudden
All that i lived
Stays scattered
Let alone say goodbye to you
I could not bid farewell to my own hands
Simit

Like the simit the sesame
Mother i embrace thee
The pier

Long forgotten the boats
Pregnant with longings
The pier
Excuse

I say I cannot die yet
There is one more line
I am waiting to write
Godspeed at Haydarpasha station

It is time
Your seat is by the window
It is not done to cry
The fresh salt taste of tears is on your lips
Mornings at haydarpasha station
Seedrolls and salep for a hungry breakfast
Iron clangs against iron as doors shut
Memories rumble loudly
Voices are locked in glass
Longings on either side of steaming windows
Images sounds whistles blowing
Nostalgia filters from eyes to heart
Down the steps of pain
Knots around the wheels at parting time
Eyes and wheels mingle
At twenty past eight
Every morning with laughter and tears
Holiday handkerchiefs white with longing
At haydarpasha station
The indicator

The indicator is off from zero
How far can it go
As far as one
All of a sudden
The indicator reaches one
Without ifs or buts
Then the indicator moves to two
From two on to three
But instead of going to four
No back to two from three it moves
And stays at two and waits
Then unexpectedly
The indicator falls back to one
Without reason or rhyme
Who will stay alive
Who will go forward
Who will climb
Who will fall
The indicator stops at zero
With wisdom and logic of time

Lexicon

We made love hidden
Inside an old lexicon
Of sixty thousand words

 
 
 
 
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