The bow by Behçet Necatigil


The Bow

Sounds well up from the deep
not even your love can help
Wait until it passes
Don’t strain the bow much tighter
you’ll snap it

The eye within you cannot see
the crawling thought in the dark
For now I am swathed in layers
from you the cloths have fallen
you are naked

A cool breeze is blowing
You, are all heat
My hands have slipped from yours, the bridge destroyed
How can I bring you to my side
You are distant

by Behçet Necatigil

translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2015 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature



Derinden sesler geliyor
Durduramaz beni aşkın
Bekle geçinceye kadar
Yayı daha germe

Karanlıkta kımıldayan düşünceyi
Göremez sendeki göz
Örtülere büründüğüm şu anda
Düşmüş senden kumaşlar

Eser serin bir rüzgar
Sen çok sıcaksın
Koptu senden ellerim, köprü yıkıldı
Seni benim tarafa nasıl alabilirim


So many by Behçet Necatigil

Image result for unsent letters


So many

What became of
So many love letters
That illuminated
Nights of longing
Maybe they weren’t sent
For fear of the dark

So many love letters
Written, left unsent
Years later
Read without being received,
Answers came
Without being sent
So many love letters

by Behçet Necatigil

translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2015 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature


Nerelerde kaldı
Özlem gecelerini
Nice aşk mektupları
Karanlık korkusundan
Belki de yollanmadı

Nice aşk mektupları
Yazıldı yollanmadı
Almadan okunduğundan
Yıllar sonra yanıtları
Geldi yollanmadan
Nice aşk mektupları


Poem for evening by Behçet Necatigil

Image result for evening

Poem for evening

Suddenly you remember
And he you – suddenly sometimes
Where is he? What’s he doing now?
A longing sparkles between the memories.

This ‘evening’ – what a strange word
It’s like hearing it for the first time, it makes me uneasy
Evening: Will I find him if I look upon the roads?
I don’t know

The fire will extinguish soon
and longing cool
We’ll meet again one day
One day, one half evening.

by Behçet Necatigil

Translated by Caroline Stockford

at the 2015 Cunda Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature


Akşam Şiiri

Birden hatırlarsın,
O da seni – – birden bazan:
Nerde, ne yapar şimdi
Parlar bir özlem anılar arasından.

Bu akşam ne garip sözcük
Sanki ilk duydum, yadırgıyorum:
Akşam. Bilmem bulur muyum
Yollara baksam?

Söner yangın birazdan
Yatışır özlem.
Bir gün karşılaşırız
Bir gün, bir yarım akşam.

Blood by Behçet Necatigil



Within sheaths and layers, blood cannot be seen
A pink wave on rose cheeks
A blue ribbon on snow-white hands
Red blood cells suddenly drop
In blind wells, lost

Family traits passed on in white milk
Greed hides for years in a generous soul
Ugliness in the skin-tight shirt of a beauty
Imposes itself on a coming generation
Blood can’t be seen buried under the skin

The murderer, psychopath, the epileptic
Wakes, having slipped into transient sleep
A dirty drop seeping from far-distant breasts
A poor soul still in childhood
Suffers sins of faces he’s never seen

Year upon year a friend hides his enmity
Pus building up within
Releasing its familiar voice through us alone
The buried link in the chain of genes
Awakes, slyness of the deep exposed

Blue or red
Leaks down from deaths
Arriving in strange feelings
A so-distant relative lives in our body
Suckles the same hope as us in our sleep

Suddenly a thin vein is blocked by a blood clot
One always cheerful, never seen to be sad
Hears from a secret voice hushed in his artery
The awful news that toppled his grandfather
And collapses whilst walking the street

Ferhat and Kerem walk towards a mirage
Their legs are tired, the road is long
Thirsty for Şirin, hungry for Aslı
They are united, is that the lot?
Blood pushes, it is weary.
Held back by shame, pride and fear
On the outside people veil what they say
topped with foam
Says everything

Eve lives on in blood from girls and women
In guns and knives
Lives on

Tomato carnation cherry blood
Sun fire coral winter summer blood
Humankind earth water air
First there was blood
Only later
Came white


Behçet Necatigil

(Varlık, 418, 1 Mayıs 1955)

translated by Caroline Stockford and Arzu Eker-Roditakis

at the 2015 Cunda International Workshop for Translators of Turkish Literature