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Tevfik Fikret

(1867-1915)

Free Meal

The meal which, gentlemen, trembling waits

To be devoured, is – the life of this nation,

This land of pain, this land of agony!

But gulp it down without hesitation.

 

The meal is served, eat, gentlemen, eat,

Till it makes you gag, till you feel replete!

 

You are hungry, gentlemen, your faces tell,

Eat while you may, for tomorrow, who knows?

The fleshpots welcome you with pride,

The spoils of victorp are yours!

 

The meal is served, eat, gentlemen, eat

Till it makes you gag, till you fell replete!

 

Count your visible assets now,

Rank, luxury, glory, blessing galore,

The wedding the bride, the mansion, the palace,

All easily yours, and many more.

 

The meal is served, eat, gentlemen, eat

Till it makes you gag, till you feel replete!

 

Though size impede digestion, think

Of sweet revenge, of proud display!

Give lustre to this dining-board:

Head, brain, lung morsels in bloody array.

 

The meal is served, eat, gentlemen, eat

Till it makes you gag, till you feel replete!

 

For this poor land will give its life,

Hope, fortune, dreams, all that’s in sight

Its daily comfort, its heart’s desire.

Dine, give no thought to wrong and right!

 

The meal is served, eat, gentlemen, eat

Till it makes you gag, till you feel replete!

 

The crops may fail, have one last bite,

The crackling hearth may turn to ash,

While stomachs are strong and the soup is hot

Scramble to fill your calabash!

 

The meal is served, eat, gentlemen eat

Till it makes you gag, till you feel replete!

(Translated by Nermin Menemencioğlu, 101Poems by 101Poets An Anthology of Turkish Poetry)