Cenge Giderken by Mehmet Emin Yurdakul

November 15, 2007

 The Warpath

I am a Turk, my faith, my kin are awesome
My heart and my essence are filled with fire
A true man is the slave of his fatherland
An offspring of the Turks rests not at home, so I shall go.
These lands are the abode of my ancestors
My house, my village are all part of this home
Behold the fatherland! Lo the embracement of God!
Father, your home finds none of its children, I too shall go.
I will not have the book of the Creator abrogated
I will not have Osman’s flag removed
I will not have my enemy charge my fatherland
The House of the Lord can not be laid to ruins, I shall go.
The Lord is my witness I shall keep my vow
The love of my people is in my essence
Naught but the fatherland have I set my sight on
The enemy will not take the beloved’s bed, so I shall go.
With a white shirt shall I wipe my tears
With a black stone shall I sharpen my knife
For my fatherland, I wish exaltion
None shall remain in this world, I too shall go.

Cenge Giderken

Ben bir Türk’üm dinim, cinsim uludur
Sinem, özüm ateş ile doludur
İnsan olan vatanının kuludur
Türk evlâdı evde durmaz, giderim.
Bu topraklar ecdâdımın ocağı
Evim köyüm hep bu yurdun bucağı
İşte vatan! İşte Tanrı kucağı!
Ata yurdun evlât bulmaz, giderim.
Yaradanın kitabını kaldırtmam
Osmancığın bayrağını aldırtmam
Düşmanımı vatanıma saldırtmam
Tanrı evi viran olmaz giderim.
Tanrım şâhid duracağım sözümde
Milletimin sevgileri özümde
Vatanımdan başka şey yok gözümde
Yâr yatağın düşman almaz, giderim.
Ak gömlekle gözyaşımı silerim
Kara taşla bıçağımı bilerim
Vatanımçün yücelikler dilerim
Bu dünyada kimse kalmaz, giderim

Some notes

  • Yurdakul (1869 – 1944),belonged to that batch of poets for whom nationalism was everything. They witnessed the decline of the Ottoman empire and the rising nationalism in former Ottoman territories. They reacted by forging a Turkish nationalism, led by writers like Ziya Gökalp, Halide Edip Adıvar and Ömer Seyfettin. They chose to write in “simple” Turkish, instead of Ottoman Turkish that was riddled with Arabic and Persian.
  • This poem was first published in the influential literary magazine Servet-i Fünun in 1897. This magazine was at the very core of the new literary movement (Edebiyat-ı Cedid) and published works of great poets like Abdülhak Hamid Tarhan, Tevfik Fikret. It also influenced people like Yahya Kemal Beyatlı. Paradoxally, as opposed to Yurdakul’s plain Turkish, these writers used a poetic language that was very difficult to understand for common people.
  • When Yurdakul proclaims that he “shall go”, he means that he will go out and fight a war.
  • Ulu, an old Turkic word, means big or large. However, we are talking about an order of magnitude which is usually awe-inspiring. This is why ulu, in Turkish, will only be used in relation to God or to things “as big as mountains”. Hence the translation as awesome.
  • It is very strange to see how Yurdakul prefers to use the old Turkic word Tanrı over the (what I assume was) prevalent Allah, a word of Semitic origin. Both words mean technically the same thing: God. With Yaradan (Creator) he again casts aside the Arabic word Allah (or even Halik or Rabb for that matter) and uses a less common Turkic word. Keep in mind, that Yurdakul does not have any problems with using other words that are Arabic in origin: even the beloved Vatan (Fatherland) is an Arabic word. Let us not forget that this poet belongs to the same group of people that wanted to have the Koran, the adhan (call to prayer) and the religious sermons in the mosques in Turkish in the stead of Arabic.

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