Yahya Kemal Beyatlı

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı 
Turkish-American News, "Turkish Poets", s. 6 
İstanbul Üniversitesi 


By Bülend ECEVIT

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı transplanted into the soil of Occidental culture what shoots he could save out of the ashes of six hundred years of Ottoman poetry, and gave the Turkish poetic idiom a last chance of survival after the radical westernisation of Turkey.

He has thus relieved the younger Turkish poets of a great burden during this period of transition. Almost all poets of the younger generation acknowledge this service with gratitude, and, inspite of their differing tastes, both in feeling and expression, regard him as the greatest benefactor of modern Turkish poetry.

Born in 1894, Yahya Kemal Beyatlı was brought up in the atmosphere of old Istanbul, but, from his early youth, he came into contact with the Western culture. Long years of ambassadorial service in Europe must also have played some part in enhancing his understanding of this culture.

Through his conception of form, he has broken away with the tradition of loosely connected couplets, and introduced coherent meditation into Turkish poetry. The two examples given below of Beyatlı’s work illustrate this break, as well as his departure from the formulated sentiments and descriptions of the Ottoman poetic tradition.


The boat sailing in full wind towards the horizon!
Your departure is clear from the evening hour that you have chosen
As you go further from that shore where you have spent your time,
As you come nearer to that fancy-born clime,
Solitude behind the curves begins to enlarge,
The frame of the world assumes in time a different marge,
A different light begins to cover the axis where you stare;
The night is above, the sea underneath, blue everywhere...
The hours that pass alone with the stars as you sail
Resemble an endless, a charming tale...
Yet soon the pleasant sleep is bound to come to end.
The creation wakes up from its dream. Lights of dawn extend.
As you go on the pure silver waters of your way
Curtains are removed in the distants by the breaking day..
A world is born from the music that rolling seas recite.
The kingdom of the sea and sky then comes to sight.
In the mirror you have entered as the next world, never say,
With doubt in your heart, "whither this way?"
Do not recover from that joyful drunken spell,
Do not be scared of the void that looks like a fearful well!
Feel for a while that you too are a god in nature!
This feeling, for the soul, is the truest pleasure.
In this journey you started alone with open sail,
Your eyes never turning back, your face never turning pale,
Forward you must go as far as the free azure's extreme.
Men live in this world to that degree as they can dream.


Intimacy causes worry, yet seclusion bores one.
To enjoy these remaining few years what must be done?
No mystery left in men; none in the world either.
If a single golden arrow were left in my quiver
I wouldn't shoot it to my horizon for the sweetest cause.
Into my final sleep I wish that my eyes should close!
That "only he who lives can feel", they claim is true;
Only he that feels does suffer, if the truest thing I knew.
The adventure of living I've witnessed and understood,
If the soul's lasting, that it didn't last, I rather would.
When one con no longer dream what joy is left in life?
Let this futile autumn end without any strife!
The most tragic part of life is not death at all,
The trouble is that one dies before death's call.

Note for correction :

In the article on "the Consul", in our last issue, the first part of the seventh paragraph should read as follows:

"At home, everyone is an individual, enjoying a private world with private troubles, but at the consulate of the land of freedom, where the Consul never has time to spare for you, you cease to be an individual with a private world" 





“Yahya Kemal Beyatlı,” Bülent Ecevit Yazıları 1950-1961, 25 Nisan 2024, https://ecevityazilari.org/items/show/128 ulaşıldı.