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Mehmet Akif Ersoy: Modern English Translations of Turkish Poems

Mehmet Âkif Ersoy (1873-1936) was a Turkish poet, author, writer, academic, member of parliament, and the composer of the Turkish National Anthem.

Snapshot
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Earth’s least trace of life cannot be erased;
even when you lie underground, it encompasses you.
So, those of you who anticipate the shadows,
how long will the darkness remember you?



Zulmü Alkislayamam
"I Can’t Applaud Tyranny"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

I can't condone cruelty; I will never applaud the oppressor;
Yet I can't renounce the past for the sake of deluded newcomers.
When someone curses my ancestors, I want to strangle them,
Even if you don’t.
But while I harbor my elders,
I refuse to praise their injustices.
Above all, I will never glorify evil, by calling injustice “justice.”
From the day of my birth, I've loved freedom;
The golden tulip never deceived me.
If I am nonviolent, does that make me a docile sheep?
The blade may slice, but my neck resists!
When I see someone else's wound, I suffer a great hardship;
To end it, I'll be whipped, I'll be beaten.
I can't say, “Never mind, just forget it!” I'll mind,
I'll crush, I'll be crushed, I'll uphold justice.
I'm the foe of the oppressor, the friend of the oppressed.
What the hell do you mean, with your backwardness?



Çanakkale Sehitlerine
"For the Çanakkale Martyrs"
by Mehmet Akif Ersoy
loose English translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Was there ever anything like the Bosphorus war?―
The earth’s mightiest armies pressing Marmara,
Forcing entry between her mountain passes
To a triangle of land besieged by countless vessels.
Oh, what dishonorable assemblages!
Who are these Europeans, come as rapists?
Who, these braying hyenas, released from their reeking cages?
Why do the Old World, the New World, and all the nations of men
now storm her beaches? Is it Armageddon? Truly, the whole world rages!
Seven nations marching in unison!
Australia goose-stepping with Canada!
Different faces, languages, skin tones!
Everything so different, but the mindless bludgeons!
Some warriors Hindu, some African, some nameless, unknown!
This disgraceful invasion, baser than the Black Death!
Ah, the 20th century, so noble in its own estimation,
But all its favored ones nothing but a parade of worthless wretches!
For months now Turkish soldiers have been vomited up
Like stomachs’ retched contents regarded with shame.
If the masks had not been torn away, the faces would still be admired,
But the ***** called civilization is far from blameless.
Now the ****** demand the destruction of the doomed
And thus bring destruction down on their own heads.
Lightning severs horizons!
Earthquakes regurgitate the bodies of the dead!
Bombs’ thunderbolts explode brains,
rupture the ******* of brave soldiers.
Underground tunnels writhe like hell
Full of the bodies of burn victims.
The sky rains down death, the earth swallows the living.
A terrible blizzard heaves men violently into the air.
Heads, eyes, torsos, legs, arms, chins, fingers, hands, feet...
Body parts rain down everywhere.
Coward hands encased in armor callously scatter
Floods of thunderbolts, torrents of fire.
Men’s chests gape open,
Beneath the high, circling vulture-like packs of the air.
Cannonballs fly as frequently as bullets
Yet the heroic army laughs at the hail.
Who needs steel fortresses? Who fears the enemy?
How can the shield of faith not prevail?
What power can make religious men bow down to their oppressors
When their stronghold is established by God?
The mountains and the rocks are the bodies of martyrs!...
For the sake of a crescent, oh God, many suns set, undone!
Dear soldier, who fell for the sake of this land,
How great you are, your blood saves the Muslims!
Only the lions of Bedr rival your glory!
Who then can dig the grave wide enough to hold you. and your story?
If we try to consign you to history, you will not fit!
No book can contain the eras you shook!
Only eternities can encompass you!...
Oh martyr, son of the martyr, do not ask me about the grave:
The prophet awaits you now, his arms flung wide open, to save!

Keywords/Tags: Ersoy, Turk, Turkish, translation, earth, world, life, death, grave, underground, shadows, darkness, remember, remembrance, memory, tyranny, cruelty, oppressor, oppressed, ancestors, elders, injustice, injustices, evil, justice, martyrs, mrbtran
Melting
by Michael R. Burch

for Beth

Entirely, as spring consumes the snow,
the thought of you consumes me: I am found
in rivulets, dissolved to what I know
of former winters’ passions. Underground,
perhaps one slender icicle remains
of what I was before, in some dark cave—
a stalactite, long calcified, now drains
to sodden pools whose milky liquid laves
the colder rock, thus washing something clean
that never saw the light, that never knew
the crust could break above, that light could stream:
so luminous,
                       so bright,
                                         so beautiful . . .
I lie revealed, and so I stand transformed,
and all because you smiled on me, and warmed.

Keywords/Tags: spring, melting, snow, winter, icicle, stalactite, underground, cave, transformation, love, warmth
rig f laurel Feb 24
back to the end of
summers and school innocence,
the sun sets upward.
Chris Slade Feb 15
It’s a dystopian gloom and doom saga...
Also you may notice I’m still crusading for Littlehampton to feature on the world stage.

(and btw… I do know that US presidents only get
to have two terms of office… But, like most world leaders…
we never let the truth get in the way of a good story).

You know what’s coming doncha?
It’s not the end of the world (yet) but…
slowly and, as with all evolutionary stuff,
things are changing - and I for one… Well, I’ve had enough!
But you do know what’s coming doncha?

Like a glacier melts and the oceans rise.
and the maps change shape and,
unfortunately, also each country’s size.
The scary cry goes out…
‘we’ll have to move to higher ground’.
And it ain’t just Shoreham, Worthing or LA
(that’s Littlehampton) It’s EVERY worldwide coastal town!
You know what’s coming don’tcha

Yeh!…It’s official folks - Littlehampton IS a world class coastal town!

On another but very related matter - Social media…
That’s developing apace. cyber chatter! Not face 2 face!
It helps spell the future for the whole human race.
We can chat, chew the fat and generally carry on communication.
with pretty much everyone in every first world nation.
Of course - You can see what’s coming can’tcha?

Even Boris’s next election win and Trump’s 3rd term
could be voted for on-line. Press one for a **** - 2 for a clone…
And evil dictatorial leaders can be rubbed out by drone…
Now you just might think that’s fine,
but the terrorists will lash back - (back/slash, the swine)
and come stalking down your street…
with machetes and suicide vests - real ones this time -
looking for your hatch, your subterranean retreat…
Cos we won’t be living on it but below the street!
You can see what’s coming can’tcha?

Yeh, we’ll be, underground, overground (Stop it!)
yeh… under that dryer, higher ground
and still be in be touch and on the ball so,
with food & stuff grown by hydroponics (naughty).
padded out by UBER drone delivered Just Eats.
We ARE preparing for Armageddon.
Drone warfare will also cure the need for extermination
nation on nation skirmishes… Just Sweet!
So you do know what’s coming don’tcha?

Yep… cast your mind way forward a decade or two…
There’ll be Amazon drones dropping goods for you;
the things you want  - your culinary needs
Dry Goods… rice, noodles, seeds.
Spices (for the very rich) - and freeze dried veg
and, if you are really wealthy, and for you life’s not on the edge
the city’s centralised, homogenised cooking crews
The takeaway kings… the Just Eats & the Deliveroos.
They’ll still be at it!
And you can see what’s coming can’tcha?

You might think that’s a good thing yeah,
well maybe! But, if we all start living underground…
to get away from the blizzards and the scorching wind(s).
The Summer Hot hot… The winter Not not - yeh sub zero,
that’ll be the only way to stay in touch
no more roaming… (that’ll still be extra).
Just as well because the latest proliferating virus
makes messaging just as popular as face to face or phoning.
And you do know what’s coming don’tcha?

Things are going to be SOooo... different in our not so Brave New World…
Talk about alternative. We’ll ALL be ‘Underground’…
but not because we’re ‘Hip’ or Hippy… Or even happy…
but, because above ground just ain’t where you’ll want to live.
and then… The doubters will shape up…
A toss is suddenly something they’ll rapidly give!
NOW…you DO know it’s coming don’tcha?

You’re gonna need Armour for Armageddon!
neth jones Sep 2019
This generation knows only darkness
and sleeps on its back

the sleeper windmills violence in upon
it’s own sensory plate
                                       (the turbulence of
                                        fit-fusion
           ­                             and shapeless
                                        mood based dreams)

                
protest whine

offence

a life less of assurance
awaiting instruction

bore
froth
tend
endurance

Days are no fun
played out underground

A Mole baring task-force
A clunder

Muscle beings
reading the darkness

              

Tales held of the higher plane
an existence firm upon the roof terrain

Once a thriving insistence
ocular culture and unpushed air

This is what came to the generation
of post surface availability

              

The Moles are quaked
they raise in hunch
reach out for their boots and tools
begin the awake shift
Notes of The Post Apocalyptic Underground
annh Sep 2019
Subway skip jive,
Off and on,
Up and over,
Been and gone.

Mind your wallet,
Watch your step,
Take your seat,
Turn right, lean left.

Token trav’lers,
Quick, quick, slow,
We’re underground,
And on the go.

‘I loved the abandoned subway stations, rushing past the darkened platforms, the sprawl of graffiti like old letters. Letters left by ghosts.’
- Hannah Lillith Assadi, Sonora
DC Hall Jul 2019
Wet bodies
electric
drugs and disease
disobedience accepted
the wild run free
don't wear the uniform of  9-5
come naked, impartial
Enjoy the ride
Hurricane Jul 2019
I don't live within the walls,
I don't live between parentheses,
I don't grow towards the light,
I live underground,
Overwhelmed and dissatisfied,
Detached and fretful,
Still thinking my life is my own and my choices have meaning.
I'm back , divinely uninspired to a hellish extent

for the yellow wallpaper & HMT
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