Translated from the Turkish
by Mevlut Ceylan
* * * *
Yahya Kemal Beyatli
Poet (b. 2 December 1884, Skopje d. 1
November 1958, İstanbul). His father was
originally from Nish. He published his poems
of juvenile years with the pen name Mehmet
Agâh, which was his real name. He used also
the pen names Agâh Kemal and Süleyman Sâdi.
He attended primary school in Skopje. He
could not complete his secondary education
in Skoplje and Thessalonica due to the
problems of his family and was sent to the
İstanbul Vefa High School (1902).
Influenced by the groups opposing to the
administration of Abdülhamit, Beyatlı had to
flee to Paris (1903), where he met the Young
Turks. Firstly, he adopted the ideas of
defenders of socialism, which was popular
those days, and even participated in their
his memories, he put that he opposed religious ideas in
those days. After improving his French at College de
Meax in Paris, he enrolled in the Department of Foreign
Affairs at the School of Political Sciences. There his
ideas changed, mainly with the influence of the
historian Albert Sorel, one of his professors. With the
inspiration he acquired from French nationalism, he
began to conduct researches on Turkish nationalism and
history. Once, he went to London, where he met Abdülhak
Hamit (1906), and there, attempted to write a Turkish
epic on the old Ottoman raids.
During his days in Paris of nine years, he carefully
examined the works of famous representatives of French
literature, Victor Hugo, De Banville, Paul Verlain, Jose
Maria Heredia and particularly Charles Baudelaire. He
wrote his ballad-like poems such as Nazar (The Evil Eye)
and Mehlika Sultan (Sultan Mehlika) in this atmosphere,
under the influence of the French poets. With the
literary delight of these men of literature, he started
to search for a new poetical style in Turkish, other
than the poetry of Scientific Wealth movement, which he
did not appreciate any more. In this period, under the
influence of translations of the Ancient Greek poetry
and attempts of Heredia in this way, he was washed away
by the dream of creating a new poetry in Turkish
literature, imitating the old Greek and Latin poetry, as
in French literature. He wanted to start a movement in
Turkish to reflect white and nude beauty as in Greek,
with a Neo-Greek flavor. On his return to İstanbul, he
tried to realize his dream a few times, together with
Yakup Kadri (as in his poems such as Sicilya Kızları
(Girls of Sicily) and Biblus Kadınları (Women of Biblus)
etc.). With the influence of the ideas of Mallarme
praising the classical French poetry, he attended
lectures at L'Ecole des Langues Oriantales during his
last years in Paris in order to advance his Arabic and
Persian, and sought for the ways to understand the
After returning to İstanbul in 1913, he gave lectures on
history, and Turkish and Western literature at the High
School for Orphans (1913), the Madrasah Muslim School of
Preachers (1914 and İstanbul University (1916-19). After
the national independence war began, he wrote articles
supporting the national struggle in the newspapers Âti
(where he was the editorial columnist), Tevhid-i Efkâr
and Hakimiyet-i Milliye, and in the review Dergâh, which
he published together with his friends. He was included
in the journalist delegation to the London Conference.
In 1923, he was selected the deputy of Urfa, where he
had never been to. He was appointed as an ambassador to
Poland (1926), Spain (1929) and Portugal (1931); and was
elected the deputy of Yozgat and Tekirdağ for two terms,
and İstanbul for one term (1946); and then became an
ambassador once again to Pakistan (1947). He was retired
when he was in this office and returned home (1949). He
went to Paris for the treatment of his aggravated
illness (1957). He died the next year. His grave is at
the Rumelihisarı Graveyard.
One of the leading representatives of Turkish poetry in
the Republican period, Yahya Kemal examined Ottoman
history and literature with the motivations of national
history to which he tended in Paris, and got an
outstanding place in Turkish literature with his poems,
expressing his pain for losing the Balkan cities, where
he had spent his childhood, and reflecting the spiritual
climax and natural beauties of İstanbul, which he
regarded as a mirror of Ottoman history and culture. In
most of his poems, he pursued tradition of Divan* poetry
in form and trite phrases, and wrote in metrics. In his
understanding of nationalism, he starts Turkish history
with the victory of Malazgirt in 1071, in contrary to
from Ziya Gökalp.
His poems were published in the reviews Yeni Mecmua,
Dergâh, Şair, Nedim, Büyük Mecmua, Tavus, İnsan, Akademi,
Foto Magazin, İstanbul, Aile, Hayat, İstanbul Haftası,
and in the newspapers Akşam, Cumhuriyet, Hürriyet
(1955-57), and his articles in the newspapers Peyam-ı
Edebi, İleri, Payitaht, Tevhid-i Efkâr, Hakimiyet-i
Milliye, and in the reviews İnci and Dergâh after 1918.
Yahya Kemal began writing poems during his years at high
school. These poems were under the influence of the
poets of the Scientific Wealth movement, particularly of
Tevfik Fikret. He admitted this by saying: "He (Tevfik
Fikret) made the greatest influence on my soul,
morality, taste, language, arts, as on all children of
He initiated his attempts for a new poetry when he was
in France. He found his real identity in the metric and
formal beauty of French poets (Jean Moreas, Baudelaire,
Verlaine, etc.), with the taste of history that he took
at the lectures of the famous historian Albert Sorel.
Though he had fled to Paris because of the suppression
of Abdülhamit II, he did not participate in political
activities in France, and improved himself in the
artistic milieu. Thus, he escaped from the influence of
the poetry of Hamid and the Scientific Wealth movement.
He dealt with the classical Divan* poetry with the
understanding of integrity in Western poetry. The
understanding of "pure poetry" of the French symbolist
poets created in his mind the tendency to isolate poetry
from extra weights and to get away from prose. Thus, in
his works, he tried to complete the defect of the Divan*
poetry, bounding certain clichés and lacking integrity.
With influence of the courses he attended in Paris, he
evaluated Turkish history with a new point of view. When
he suggested that the identity of Anatolian Turkish was
created by the Anatolian soil during the process
beginning in 1071, he implied golden ages of this
history within the poetic format of Divan* poetry. He
expressed the air of the state of feast and joy during
the Tulip Age, on the one hand, and the traces of
religious and theosophical poetry into his poems.
He was recognized with his lyric poems and songs
published in the review Yeni Mecmua with the title "Bulunmuş
Sayfalar" (The Found Pages) on his return from Europe
(1918). These neo-classical poems indicate that his
starting point in poetry was the Ottoman history and
poetry, and that he remained generally loyal to the
Ottoman civilization and culture also in his later
poems, written in a new format and a pure language. In
his works, he deals with the love of history, homeland,
nation and İstanbul from this perspective. Yahya Kemal's
admiration of İstanbul, the Bosphorus and Turkish music
was due to their historical value, besides their natural
beauties, as the Ottoman civilization created its
greatest pieces in İstanbul. The poet, who fuses
emotion, thought and imagination skillfully, found the
themes of his epic-lyric poems, most of which were bore
a character of story, from love, nature, sea, death and
eternity. That he regarded internal harmony over all,
that he accepted poetry "as a music different from
music" led him to write all his poems in metrics, which
he regarded more suitable to establish such an harmony,
excluding his poem Ok (Arrow).
Yahya Kemal was a great master of our contemporary
poetry, with classical simplicity and might in his
poems, which were written with a strong cultural and
linguistic consciousness, with his efforts and success
in synthesizing the national and the modern, the
individual and the social, the historical and the
contemporary in the core and form of his art.
After his death, his friends and admirers founded the
Society of Lovers of Yahya Kemal in İstanbul. The
Institute of Yahya Kemal (1958) and the Museum of Yahya
Kemal (1961) were established by the İstanbul Society of
Conquest, and the aforesaid institute published the
Yahya Kemal Mecmuası (the Review of Yahya Kemal). His
poems, short stories, articles and memoirs, which had
not been included by books and remained in reviews in
his lifetime, were collected by the institute and
published after 1961. His statue was erected in a park
in İstanbul, and many busts of him were installed in
many cultural centers. The General Directorate of Post,
Telgraph and Telephone published his stamps in his
memory. A placate bearing his name was installed on the
door of the room 165 of the Park Otel, where he stayed
for 19 years.
POETRY: Kendi Gök Kubbemiz (Our Own Sky, 1961),
Eski Şiirin Rüzgârıyle (With the Wind of the Old Poetry,
1962), Rubailer ve Hayyam Rubailerini Türkçe Söyleyiş
(The Rubai*s and Rubai*s of Ömer Hayyam in Turkish,
1963), Bitmemiş Şiirler (Incomplete Poems, 1976).
ESSAY-ARTICLE-MEMOIR: Aziz İstanbul (Great
İstanbul, 1964), Eğil Dağlar (Bow Down Oh Mountains,
essays on the National Independence War, 1966), Siyasî
Hikâyeler (Political Stories, 1968), Siyasî ve Edebî
Portreler (Political and Literary Portraits, 1968),
Edebiyata Dair (On Literature, essays, 1971), Çocukluğum,
Gençliğim, Siyasî ve Edebî Hatıralarım (My Childhood,
Youth, and Political and Literary Memories, 1973), Tarih
Musahabeleri (Evaluations of History, 1975),
Mektuplar-Makaleler (Letters-Essays, 1977).
|End of September
The days are brief, old folks of Kanlica
the autumns of the past.
Life is too
short to love this district only . . .
summers to last and days to be longer . . .
drink quenched our thirst for years . . .
Ah! Life is
too short for such a joy.
Death is our
end, we're not afraid of it,
hard to be away from the motherland.
return from death's night to this shore
Is worse than death, this is the heart's
* * * * *
Mustafa Pasha! Poor and distant Istanbul!
conquest you're a devout believer, and
those who deem sorrow is pleasure.
I was with
them all day in this lovely dream.
motherland and nation are inseparable twins.
alone have been seen, and have been heard.
frame radiant for five centuries;
near, so close.
an April rain.
On such a
day reality mingled with dreams.
on the scene, very near,
there's no dividing wall between,
One is a
step away from the other,
Seeing the beloved beyond is certain.
* * * * *
From Another Hill
I looked at
you from another hill, dear Istanbul!
I know you
like back of my hand, and love you dearly.
and sit on my heart's throne as long as I
Just to love
a district of yours is worth a whole life.
many flourishing cities in the world.
the only one who creates enchanting beauty.
I say, he
who has lived happily, in the longest dream,
Is he who spent his life in you, died in
you, and was buried in you.
Yahya Kemal Beyatli
posted 9 March 2006
* * *
* * *
Life on Mars
By Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to acceptor at least endurethe universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the books first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.
The Bodys Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.
* * *
Allah, Liberty, and Love
The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom
By Irshad Manji
In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and lovethe universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times. What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation?
* * * * *
By Nidaa Khoury
Khoury's poetry is fired by belief in
the human and the spiritual at a time
when many of us feel unreal and often
Huri, Ben-Gurion University
Written in water and ink, in between the
shed blood. Nidaa Khoury's poems take us
to the bosom of an ancient woman . . .
an archetype revived. The secret she
whispers is 'smaller than words.'Karin
Karakasli, author, Turkey
Nidaa Khoury was born in Fassouta, Upper
Galilee, in 1959. Khoury is the author
of seven books published in Arabic and
several other languages, including The
Barefoot River, which appeared in Arabic
and Hebrew and The Bitter Crown,
censored in Jordan. The Palestinian poet
is studied in Israeli universities and
widely reviewed by the Arab press. The
founder of the Association of Survival,
an NGO for minorities in Israel, Khoury
has participated in over 30
international literary and human rights
conferences and festivals. Khoury is the
subject of the award-winning film, Nidaa
* * *
1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus
By Charles C. Mann
a big fan of Charles Manns previous
New Revelations of the Americas Before
Columbus, in which he
provides a sweeping and provocative
examination of North and South America
prior to the arrival of Christopher
Columbus. Its exhaustively researched
but so wonderfully written that its
anything but exhausting to read. With
1493, Mann has taken it to a
new, truly global level. Building on the
groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby
The Columbian Exchange and, Im
proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer),
Mann has written nothing less than the
story of our world: how a planet of what
were once several autonomous continents
is quickly becoming a single,
Mann not only talked to countless
scientists and researchers; he visited
the places he writes about, and as a
consequence, the book has a marvelously
wide-ranging yet personal feel as we
follow Mann from one far-flung corner of
the world to the next. And always, the
prose is masterful. In telling the
improbable story of how Spanish and
Chinese cultures collided in the
Philippines in the sixteenth century, he
takes us to the island of Mindoro whose
southern coast consists of a number of
small bays, one next to another like
tooth marks in an apple.
We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato,
tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane
have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will
continue to do so until we are finally living on
one integrated or at least close-to-integrated
Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of
all this remarkable change will survive the
process they helped to initiate more than five
hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this
monumental and revelatory book, an open
* * *
The White Masters of the
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * * *
If you like this page consider making a donation
* * * * *
Negro Digest /
Browse all issues
* * * * *
The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan
The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Only a Pawn in Their Game
Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for
George Jackson /
* * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of
* * * * *
updated 19 October 2007