Friday, June 19, 2009

you and i and the sea

camille pissaro "regates a argenteuil"

promised land

let it play with your hair, this gentle breeze
blowing from the seven seas.
if only you knew
how lovely you are the way you gaze at the edge of the night
steeped in the grief of exile and longing, in sorrow.

neither you
nor i
nor the dusk that gathers in your beauty
nor the blue sea.
that safe harbour for the distress that assaults the brain-
we spurn the generation which knows nothing of the soul's pain.

mankind today
brands you merely a fresh slender woman
and me just an old fool.
that wretched appetite, that filthy sight
can find no meaning in you or me
nor a tender grief in the night
nor the sullen tremor of secrecy and disdain
on the calm sea.

you and i
and the sea
and the night that seems to gather silently,
without trembling, the fragrance of your soul,
far away
torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway,
we are forever doomed to this exile here.

that land?
stretches along the chaste regions of imagination, and
a blue nightfall
reposes there for all;
at its outer edges, the sea
pours the calm of sleep on each soul...

there, women are lovely, tender, nocturnal, pure.
over their eyes your sadness hovers,
they are all sisters or lovers:
the tearful kisses on their lips can cure,
and the indigo quiet of their inquiring eyes
can soothe the heart's suffering.
their souls are violets
distilled from the night of despair,
in a ceaseless search for silence and repose.
the dim glare from the moon's sorrows
finds haven in their immaculate hands.

ah, they are so frail-
the mute anguish they share,
the night deep in thought, the ailing sea ...
they all resemble each other there.

that land
is on which imaginary continent, and
dimmed by what distant river?
is it a land of illusions- or real,
a utopia bound to remain unknown forever?

i do not know ... all I know is
you and i and the blue sea
and the dusk that vibrates in me
the strings of inspiration and agony,
far away
torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway
we are forever doomed to this exile here.

ahmet hasim (1884-1933)
translated by talat sait halman

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