Thursday, March 26, 2009

I come pretty close, I feel it, I can't explain it

My buddy K. Curtis Lyle and I had one of those freewheeling conversations over the phone today that are possible only among very old friends who can speak in telegraphic shorthand about complex subjects and veer into very dangerous and profane territory without fear of judgment or exposure.

It was fun. It opened my head a little wider.

He told me one story about a man who lived just a little bit above his means, emotionally and in terms of epistemology. It made me think of a poem about reaching for something amazing that you can't quite reach.

This poem is by Orhan Veli, one of the fathers of modern Turkish poetry. With his friends Oktay Rifat and Melih Cevdet, Orhan Veli founded a literary movement known as Garip, a word that translates as both "strange" and "lonesome".


(moro romantico)

If I cry
Will you hear
My voice
In lines of verse?
Can you touch my tears?

I never knew songs were so beautiful
And words so insufficient
Before falling into this trouble

There is a place, I know
Where it's possible to say everything
I come pretty close
I feel it
I can't explain it

[April, 1940]

By Orhan Veli
Translated by Defne Halman and Chris King


I cotranslated Orhan Veli's collected poems with a wild child of Turkish literature, the punk rock actor chick Defne Halman. Defo is the daughter of Talat S. Halman, the dean of Turkish letters; among a thousand other accomplishments, Papa is the translator of Shakespeare into Turkish.

Defo moved to Istanbul :( I miss her.

Image of the poet poached from the Project for Innovative Poetry blog.

1 comment:

Murat Nemet-Nejat said...


I am glad Veli keeps being translated and re-translated, to reach the secret of the elusive beauty of his poetry.