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I’m Listening to Istanbul By Orhan Veli



I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
At first some wind is blowing slightly
And leaves are swaying slowly on the trees;
Far out, far away
The unceasing bells of the water carriers;
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed.

I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
Birds are passing by, just then
Clouds of birds, crying in the sky,
And nets are drawn in the kiddles;
Some woman’s feet are touching to the water;
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed.

I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
The Grand Bazaar is fresh and cool,
And Mahmutpaşa is chirping;
Courtyards are full of pigeons,
Hammer sounds are coming from the docks,
And in a beautiful spring wind, the smell of sweat;
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed.

I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
The drunkenness of old kingdoms in my head
A mansion with its dusky boathouses,
Is in a clatter of ceased sou'westers
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed.
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
Some coquette is passing by the sidewalk;
Swearwords, songs, ballads and innuendos…
Something falls on the ground out of her hand,
It must be a rose;
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed.

I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
Some bird is fluttering in your skirts;
I know your forehead is warm or not;
I know your lips are wet or not;
A white moon is rising beyond the pistachios
I figure it out from your heart’s beating
I’m listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed.

Translated by Mustafa Burak Sezer

September ’09 / Istanbul



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Biography*

Orhan Veli Kanık (April 13, 1914 – November 14, 1950) was a Turkish poet. Together with Oktay Rıfat and Melih Cevdet, he founded the Garip Movement. Orhan Veli was born in Istanbul. His father was a conductor of the Presidential Symphony Orchestra. His younger brother, Adnan Veli, was a well known journalist whose memoir of his time in prison on political charges, "Mahpushane Çeşmesi (The Prison Fountain)", was published in 1952. Orhan Veli studied at the Ankara Gazi High School before he started his university education which lasted one year at Istanbul University's philosophy department before dropping out in 1935. He was employed by the Ministry of Education as a translator from 1945 to 1947. Later, he worked as a freelance translator and journalist. In 1949, he helped the publication of Yaprak, a literary magazine. As also evidenced from the contents of some of his deeply humorous poetry, he was a heavy drinker. His death was due to a brain hemorrhage a few days after he fell into a pot hole on the street while intoxicated.

He is known for advocating a poetry without excessive stylistic elements and adjectives, and preferring a style closer to free-verse. He is known for his unique voice, and depth of emotion underlying the seemingly easy-coming nature of his verse. His poetry is highly admired by the public as well as in academic circles.

Works

* Garip (Together with Oktay Rifat and Melih Cevdet, 1941)
* Garip (1945)
* Vazgeçemediğim (1945)
* Destan Gibi (1946)
* Yenisi (1947)
* Karşı (1949)
* Collected Poems (1951, 1975)

*Wikipedia

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