CAN YUCEL
(1926-1999)


THE WALL OF LOVE

Was it you or your loneliness
In the blind dark we opened bleary eyes 
Last night's curses on our lips
We would frequent art-lesbian-lovers,
Galleries and public places
My daily care was to remove you into the midst of men
An ammoniac flower in your button hole
My loneliness my incontinent countess
The lower we sink the better


We loitered in the pubs at Kumkapğ
With beanstew, beer and wine before us
And police battalions behind us; in the mornings
My Guardian Saints would find my carcass in the gutters
Hot as the garbage-collecfors' hands,
With their hands I caressed you.
My loneliness my bristle-haired beauty,
The higher we stink the better


I looked in the sky a red flash a plane
Steel and stars and human beings galore
One night we leapt the Wall of love
Where I fell was so clear so open
You and the universe at my side.
Uncountable my deaths, their resurrections.
O loneliness my many songs
The more we can live without lies the better.


Translated by Ruth Christie

 

SPEAK UUUPPP!

All these bells
are hung in the window's mouth;
all these whirligigs
all these screws
all these windmilis
these kites and planes
face the north-east wind.

All these trees, acacia, mimosa, magnolia
including their leaves,
all these living and lively people
have skipped to the next world
with their hands, arms, ears
at the sound of an early crowing bird.
They've bequeathed their voices
as a gift to this death-driven world..

Translated by Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar

MAN'S PRlNClPAL LAW

This is man's law of the blood:
to make wine from the grape
to strike fire from the stone
and human beings from kisses

This is man's law of the soul:
no matter what happens to live
in the face of poverty and wars
and a thousand and one calamities!

This is man's law of reason:
to convert water to light
to render the dream true
to make the enemy a friend!

This is man's principal law
from the child on all fours
to the runner in space
to be always on course!

Translated by Ruth Christie

 

THE GREEN POEM

The more you look the more the stars multiply,
To count them you'll need more fingers than you have.
Some stars are audible, some are not,
The more you listen, the more you'll find in the night.
Sounds come,
Some come quickly, some take time.

Everything carries a voice of its own,
Even under the cover of darkness
the night keeps its colors going
in the branch of the tree, in the wind, 
Every thing has a colour of its own. 

He would wait under his closed eyelids.
Extending his leaf-like hands and palms,
he would wait till he could hear
the coming of the green
in the branch of the tree and in the wind.
He would then fall asleep in his dream.

Translated by Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar

 

Can Yücel (1926 - 1999) Born ln Istanbul, the son of Education, Hasan Ali Yücel. Read classics at the University of Ankara and then Cambridge. He was for almost five years a programme asistant in the Turkish Section of the BBC External Selvices. On his return to Turkey he was sentenced to fifteen years for translating works by Che Guevera and Mao. He was relaesed within two years because of a general amnesty. He is a, man of vast knowledge and culture, as well as keen political and social awareness. He is a superb translator of Shakespeare, Eliot, Dylan Thomas and the Greek combination epigrammatic poets. His poetry thrives on a strong combination of lrycism, warm irony and sarcasm This quality is especially evident in his Poems of a Political Prisoner(1974) His, other collections are Wall ot Love (1973), Death and My Son (i976), The Music ot Colours (1982), The Steep Heaven (l984), Life Offering (l988) and The Child Colours the Man (l988) Can Yücel has earned himself a leading place in today's Turkish Poetry as, man who upholds what c bright and what gives hope and courage to life. The matuilty of his imagination and lyrical thinking manifested itself in his very first book Manuscript published 1950. His translations of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest were successfully staged in Turkey and are considered as turning points in the life of the Turkish theatre and social awareness.

(Poems and biography from; "THE POETRY OF CAN YUCEL", edited by Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar, Papirus pub. june 1993)