Leyli – My Leyli

By | February 8, 2014

yesilulas_ahmedarifLeyli – My Leyli
Leyli – my Leyli – when half our world
Is red and green with spring
And half all snow
Still brothers and tribes are at each other’s throats
Still, the scorpion
The yellow adder
On our white foreheads harlot oppression
And during bright midnights
Against the double-winged gates, gallows
And the fountain in the prison yard
Is flowing on the side
Death came and felt me
Between the ribs
Let it feel…

It is their time, I cannot resist them
The time, most forked and rebellious
Of your hell-budding breasts
It is the time, forty days and nights
Your arms were noosed around my neck
And my heart bent on evil…
What can I say
Their bullets in place
Their hands bloodstained
When the patrols crush our sleep
My heart is taken by you
Though the mirrors may not echo you

I cannot plunder your garden
Now, I say, this is the soft spot of the bastard
Now my knife is bright as hell
Then you come to my mind
My hands are lifeless

All the thieves know
About our love
The curved dagger, the black rifle, the bloody ambush
Have found out
And that most shameful fruit of human thought
The mad uranium
It has found out
Let them
Let them see
How I burn for you
Oh bride

Before the blood-smeared pirates
The rabid dogs
Fed on forbidden flesh
The false prophets
And their dwarfs
Their gelded, idiot slaves
One more time I say it
While this soul is mine
I am mad for you
Oh bride

These taboos
Are remnants of the Pharaohs
Old stories
For your secret innermost being traps are set
Some days hopeless
Of doing their filthy work
Some days waiting
To see you fall
Do not fall!
I would die…
Left without your eyes, your eyes

Leyli – my Leyli
When quinces become pomegranates
And you become mine
When for our troubled heads
The world becomes narrow

Ahmet Arif

Translated by  Murat Nemet-Nejat (1982)

“Leylim – Leylim,” Hasretinden Prangalar Eskittim (1992 – 32nd printing / first edition 1968). Istanbul: Cem Yayinevi, pp. 75-79.

Ahmed Arif (1927-1991)
Studied philosophy at Ankara University. His education was interrupted by several political arrests. Published in various literary journals, his poems were widely read due to their original lyricism and imagery influenced by Anatolian folk cultures. He has published only one collection of poetry: Hasretinden Prangalar Eskittim (Fetters Worn Out by Longing/1968) – a volume which has gone through a record number of printings.

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