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Attila İlhan

(1925-2005)

Another Man

They beter leave her alone

unmolested

that blind Alsatian woman

who plays polkas by heart on her harmonica

the girl in whom the songs start and end

had beter go along the Boulevard Raspail each night

just leave her alone

that woman who plays the harmonica

when the lights vanish some night

don’t drag me behind the walls

don’t drag her away

 

the drugged clouds of Zuider Zee

haunt his memory

while a Dutch painter

paints nothing but turqouise skies

from dawn to dusk

on the quay of Orf evre

kids drift along the shore of a song

their hands cleansed pure in the rain

barefoot and dreamy-eyed

their laughter endless

their teras unwept

 

I saw the stars scuttling along the seashore

their irises were ridged deep

with flaming lines

while the South wind fushed

I shivered

 

beyond all enormity

as the beacons stared into darkness like orphans

on the coast of Palermo and Calabria

sailors stood on decks vagrant and sad

with melancholy eyes

unknown

unseen

unfelt

on the coast of Palermo and Calabria

the beacons stared

into darkness like orphans

and I the poet of the anvil and the wrench

poured forth righteous poems

humane poems

line by line

as one would cast lead

all the way from İstanbul to Marseille

 

wind in the boulevards

wind in the Luxembourg gardens

kids toss the last leaves in the air

and down below

like the pulse-beat of another world

miners’ hammers clang and subways scurry like baby moles

the harmonica soundb timid

and distant

on the pavements the sghts of Paris linger

and in the sky now swift

now open

a fast blue

fast clouds

red birdsare embroidered on your mittens

and sky and the pavements you and Paris

you and Paris my love

and each singing a different tune

those trips and fare wells

 

In Ubengi-Shari

under virgin stars

in pure and honest eyes

within four walls cityless and unradioed

and an unsurpassed adulation

fiercely and savagely

the wildest ivies burn

 

then a man

shoulders

the susurrant forest

the arrogant howls of jackals

and the jackals themselves

a greasy jet-black man

with a greasy pitch-black kinky beard

 

I am a man

another man

a vagabond

who dumped his youth headlong into the streets

and tossed away his hopes like pigeons

lost them time and time again

lost them in the graveyard of ships

in his cruel poems and songs

found them time and time again

then he dragged the dawn’s shrieks by the hair

there goes the sea and there goes he

there goes the cloud and there goes he

a man

a different man

a vagabond

(Translated by Talat Sait Halman, 101Poems by 101Poets An Anthology of Turkish Poetry)