Archive for the ‘NAMIK KEMAL’ Category

1. The laws of the age
Swerved before our eyes
From honesty and decency
And so turned we
And glory turned and fortune
From governance’s gate

2. Being human
Means service to the people,
Not withholding
Aid from the oppressed

3. The body is leavened
By her earth—
Ah motherland!—
For her sake, ungrieved,
Let tyranny and torment
Return my body to dust.

4. Though fallen,
The nation keeps
Its glory.
The gem
Loses no value
By dropping to the earth.

5. Mean spirits
Accomplice tyrants
In this world.
And in the world
It pleases only a dog
To serve the cruel hunter.

6. For a moment’s pleasure
They’d abandon
An eternal gift,
Think living on
Of more worth
Than a good name.

7. Why are the people
Enamored so
Of living long?
I can’t imagine
The profit
In clinging to safety.

8. Self-seen
Lower than the lowest
In all the world,
Who knows no shame,
Shamed only
By another’s reproach.

9. To the wise
It takes vengeance
On fate,
To profit,
By renewed striving,
From regret.

10. Principles of victory
Lie in the oneness
Of the nation’s heart.
Traces of Divine Mercy
Emerge from difference
In the people’s views.

11. The world spins
On the potent resolve
Of the steadfast.
The earth trembles
Beneath the firm tread
Of the resolute.

12. Fate saves its every gift,
Its every grace
For one moment alone.
‘Ware languishing
For a nation
Feeble and lethargic.

13. The lion in chains
Cannot be blamed
For the impotence of its limbs.
But shame on the stars
For the destitution
Of those who care

14. Of need
The beam shines far
From its summit of origin.
But nature is shamed
By ability
Left in the dust.

15. We are Ottomans,
Noble lineage,
Noble race.
Leavened throughout
By the blood
Of zealotry.

16. We are a people
Of lofty purpose
Serious, striving;
Who made of a tribe
An empire,

17. We are the celestial
Of temperament
On the battlefield of zeal.
The earth of the grave
Seems easier to us
Than the soil of abasement.

18. Though freedom’s struggle
Be fraught
With flames of terror,
Is it manly to flee
Endeavor’s field
Merely to survive?

19. Though the hangman’s
Life-rending noose
Be serpent irresistible,
A thousand times
Preferred it is
To chains of slavery.

20. Let destiny come,
Gather its teeming arsenal
Of afflictions.
I am a whore
If on the nation’s path
I abandon my goals.

21. Think on the hardship
And oppression
I suffered in a career
Whose meanest pleasure
Exceeds a vizierate
Or first ministry.

22. The motherland has become
A wanton coquette,
Faithless, disdainful;
Who cannot discern
By exile’s agonies
Her truest lovers.

23. I am free
Of expectation
And of fear.
Duty is more to me
Than profit,
Right than ruin.

24. Unjust ruler,
Beware contention
With the nation’s brave young men.
The sword of your tyranny
Will melt
In the fiery blood of zeal.

25. How can freedom
Be erased
By tyranny, injustice?
Work, if you’re able
To raise it up
From annihilation.

26. In the heart
The jewel of zeal
Is a diamond,
By violent suppression
Or oppression’s might

27. How enchanting
You are
Oh, vision of freedom,
We are the captives
Of loving you
Thus freed from captivity.

28. Yours is the power
To draw the heart.
Your beauty be ever unveiled,
Your loveliness
Be not remote
From the community’s gaze!

29. Oh, what a soul’s beloved
You are,
Hope of the future,
Liberator of the world
From a thousand
Griefs and afflictions!

30. Yours dominion over fortune;
Enforce your decree
On all the world.
May God protect
Your destiny
From all calamities.

31. The wilds you wandered disdainful
Have gone to the dogs
Of oppression.
Wake, wounded,
Fierce lion
From heedless slumber!

Translated by Walter G. Andrews


If you die, your mother will mourn;
the imam will arrange the funeral rites;

wolves and birds and fields and hills
will eat your flesh—

just don’t die!
I hit a grave with my spade:

bones came out, all broken in bits.
If you give your life, don’t be deceived:

your loved one will move on—
just don’t die!

Translated by Bernard Lewis

Let us truly renounce all hope and desire
Let us break the cage of flesh if it bars our resolve
As our country moans in pain with every breath
And calls for help—listen, this is the voice of God.

Zeal befits us; compassion is God’s.
Neither pauper nor emperor can decide the future—
Listen to her cry for help, her sigh of pain,
Hear what our country says, as she moans with every breath.

Even the nightingale kills itself for freedom.
Will this calamity withdraw for this world full of affliction?
For the faith, for the state, for this nation in agony?
Could the crumbling cage of flesh bar our resolve?

The country is finished—no it is not finished, as long as
you and I are there.
We can have no greater enemy than ourselves.
We are in the hands of the foe. For God’s sake, countrymen,
Enough! Let us renounce every whim and desire.

Translated by Bernard Lewis

Namık Kemal (1840-1888)

He was brought up by his grandfather and received private tutoring. He joined the Department of Translation (Tercüme Kalemi) in 1863. Upon İbrahim Şinasi’s departure for Paris in 1865, he became the editor-in-chief of Şinasi’s journal Tasvir-i Efkar. The works in which he relied upon Rousseau’s and Montes-quieu’s ideas were not welcomed by the political regime, so he went abroad. In London, he published a newspaper entitled Hürriyet (1868). Returning to Turkey, he published another newspaper entitled İbret (1870). He was sent to Cyprus in 1873, where he was imprisoned for 38 months and spent time in exile in Mytilene (1877), Rhodes (1884) and Chios (1887). Even though he argued for modernization, he still used traditional poetic forms; his novels and plays are only important in that they are the first pieces in these genres in Turkish. POETRY: Namık Kemal Hayatı ve Şiirleri (1933, edited by Sadettin Nüzhet). PLAYS: Vatan yahut Silistre (1873), Zavallı Çocuk (1873), Akif Bey (1874), Gülnihal (1875), Celaleddin Harzemşah (1881), Karabela (1908). NOVELS: İntibah (1876), Cezmi (1880). OTHER WORKS: Devr-i İstila (1867, history), Barika-i Zafer (1872, history), Silistre Muhasarası (1873, history), Konjiye (1873, history), Evrak-ı Perişan (1875, biographies), Emir Nevruz (1875, biography), Tahrib-i Harabat (1883, criticism), Mukaddime-i Celal (1888, criticism), Renan Müdafanamesi (1908, history), Osmanlı Tarihi (1910-1911, 4 vols., history), Makalat-ı Siyasiye ve Edebiye (1911, essays).