I’m Compelled To You
By Attila İlhan
I’m compelled to you, you cannot know
I’m holding your name in my mind like a nail
Your eyes are getting bigger and bigger
I’m compelled to you, you may not know
I’m warming myself up with you.
Trees are getting ready for autumn
Is this city that old Istanbul
Clouds are coming apart in the dark
And street lamps are kindling suddenly
Rain smell on the sidewalks
I’m compelled to you, you are not here
Loving is sometimes dismally apprehensive
And man all of a sudden gets tired in the nightfall
Of living as a captive on the razor’s edge
Sometimes his passion breaks his hands
And he displaces a few lives out of his living
Which door he knocks now and then
Behind him the wicked howl of loneliness.
A pauper gramophone is playing in Fatih
A Friday is playing from the old times
If I stop at the corner and listen carefully
And bring a brand-new sky to you
Weeks are chipping off in my hands
Whatever I do whatever I hold wherever I go
I’m compelled to you, you are not here.
Maybe you are the blue-freckled kid in June
Ah, nobody knows you, nobody
A freighter is running out from your solitary eyes
Maybe you are getting on a plane in Yeşilköy
You’re all wet, your hairs are shivering
Maybe you’re troubled, broken and alarmed
The evil wind is blowing your hair.
Whenever I think about a living
In this board of wolves maybe it’s difficult
Without any shame but without dirtying our hands
Whenever I think about a living
I say ‘hush!’ and begin with your name
Your hidden seas are moving within me
No, it won’t be any other way
I’m compelled to you, you cannot know.
Translated by Mustafa Burak Sezer
21 July 2009 / Islamabad
Biography: Attilâ İlhan (June 15, 1925 – October 10, 2005) was a Turkish poet, novelist, essayist, journalist and reviewer.
Attilâ İlhan was born in Menemen in İzmir Province, Turkey. He received most of his primary education in İzmir. However, because of his father's job, he completed his junior high school education in different cities. Aged 16 and enrolled in İzmir Atatürk High School, he got into trouble for sending a poem by Nazım Hikmet, a famous dissident communist Turkish poet, to a girl he was in love with. He was arrested and taken into custody for three weeks. He was also dismissed from school and jailed for two months. After his imprisonment, İlhan was forbidden from attending any schools in Turkey, thus interrupting his education.
Following a favourable court decision in 1941, he received permission to continue his education again and enrolled in Istanbul Işık High School. During the last year of his high school education, his uncle sent one of his poems to CHP Poetry Competition without telling Attilâ. The poem, Cebbaroğlu Mehemmed won the second prize among many poems written by famous poets. He gratuated from high school in 1942 and enrolled in İstanbul University's law school. However, he left midway through his legal education to pursue his own endeavours and published his first poetry book, Duvar (The Wall).
Years in Paris
In his second year at Istanbul University, he went to Paris in order to take part in supporting Nazım Hikmet. His observations of the French and their culture were to influence many of his works.
After returning to Turkey, he repeatedly ran into trouble with the police. Interrogations in Sansaryan Han influenced his works based on death, thriller, etc.
He went back to Paris again in 1951 because of an official investigation about an article in Gerçek newspaper. In this period he learned to speak French and studied Marxist philosophy. In the 1950s Attilâ İlhan spent his days along an İstanbul–Paris–İzmir triangle and during this period he started to become popular in Turkey. After returning to Turkey, he resumed studying law. However, in his last year at law school, he left university and took up a journalistic career. His relationship with the cinema also started in this year. He began writing movie reviews and critiques in Vatan newspaper.
After completing his military service in Erzurum in 1957, İlhan returned to İstanbul and concentrated on cinema. He wrote screenplays for nearly 15 movies under the nom de plume Ali Kaptanoğlu. However, cinema didn't meet his expectations and he went back to Paris in 1960. During this period, he analyzed the development of socialism and television. The unexpected death of his father caused him to return to his hometown of İzmir, where he would remain for the next eight years. During this period, he served as the editorial writer and editor-in-chief of the Democratic İzmir newspaper. During the same years, he also wrote poetry books, Yasak Sevişmek and Bıçağın Ucu of the Aynanın İçindekiler series.
In his later life he appeared on television programs where he discussed literary and social issues. Although he was a devoted communist, he never espoused Stalinism and he always took a nationalistic point of view within communism. He was also an intellectual figure in Turkey where his nationalist ideas influenced the public. In his series of books entitled Hangi …, he questioned the imitative intellectualism which dominated the cultural and political life of Turkey.
He married in 1968 and remained so for 15 years.
He was the brother of famous Turkish actress Çolpan İlhan, wife of the late Sadri Alışık, himself a famous actor. Attilâ İlhan died of a heart-attack in İstanbul. Attilâ İlhan was laid to rest at Aşiyan Asri Cemetery.