banner













  • Subscribe to our e-letters



  • Facebook_icon


The Stephen Spender Prize 2019 for poetry in translation
in association with the Guardian

14-and-under category, third prize

Read the judges’ comments
Download the 2019 booklet
Email to request a free hard copy of the booklet (UK addresses only)
Read the winning entries from previous years


Ebrar Aygin

I am Listening to Istanbul


Listen to 'I am Listening to Istanbul'

I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed
At first there is a gentle breeze
The soft sway
And the leaves on the trees
Out there, far away,
The bells of water-carriers' endless ring
I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed

I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
Then suddenly birds fly by,
High up, flocks of them, with a hue and cry
While the nets are drawn into the fisheries
And a women's feet dabble in the water
I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed

I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed
The Grand Bazaar is calm and cool,
The chitter chatter at Mahmud Pasha
Mosque yards are full of pigeons
The hammers bang and clang at the docks
Spring winds and the smell of sweat;
I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed

I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
The drunkenness of the old worlds
A sea coast with dim boathouses
In the hum of the dead southern winds
I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed

I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed
A pretty girl walks by on the path
Words, whistles, and songs, rude-remarks;
Something falls out of her hand
It must be a rose;
I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed

I am listening to Istanbul, my eyes are closed;
A bird flutters around your skirt
Is your forehead hot? Cold? I know
Are your lips wet? Or not? I know
A silver moon rises between the pine trees
I can sense it all in your heart's beating
I am listening to Istanbul

Translated from the Turkish by Ebrar Aygin
top


İstanbul'u Dinliyorum


İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı
Önce hafiften bir rüzgar esiyor;
Yavaş yavaş sallanıyor
Yapraklar, ağaçlarda;
Uzaklarda, çok uzaklarda,
Sucuların hiç durmayan çıngırakları
İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı

İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Kuşlar geçiyor, derken;
Yükseklerden, sürü sürü, çığlık çığlık.
Ağlar çekiliyor dalyanlarda;
Bir kadının suya değiyor ayakları;
İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı

İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Serin serin Kapalıçarşı
Cıvıl cıvıl Mahmutpaşa
Güvercin dolu avlular
Çekiç sesleri geliyor doklardan
Güzelim bahar rüzgarında ter kokuları;
İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı

İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Başımda eski alemlerin sarhoşluğu
Loş kayıkhaneleriyle bir yalı;
Dinmiş lodosların uğultusu içinde
İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı

İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Bir yosma geçiyor kaldırımdan;
Küfürler, şarkılar, türküler, laf atmalar
Birşey düşüyor elinden yere;
Bir gül olmalı;
İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı

İstanbul'u dinliyorum, gözlerim kapalı;
Bir kuş çırpınıyor eteklerinde;
Alnın sıcak mı, değil mi, biliyorum;
Dudakların ıslak mı, değil mi, biliyorum;
Beyaz bir ay doğuyor fıstıkların arkasından
Kalbinin vuruşundan anlıyorum;
İstanbul'u dinliyorum

Orhan Veli

© Orhan Veli Kanık, Yapı Kredi Kültür Sanat Yayıncılık Ticaret ve Sanayi A.Ş., 2003

top


Translation commentary

I chose this poem because my home language is Turkish and this poem has a really nice meaning to the Turks. It is one of the most effective Turkish poems that describes Istanbul. The poet, Orhan Veli, is in Istanbul and listening to the nature and the people surrounding him and puts all of it together in this poem. I really like this poem because every time I read it or hear somebody else read it I feel like I am in the setting because of the powerful vocabulary that the poet has used.

When I was younger I learnt Turkish and English at the same time and my Turkish is fluent but when I read poems I struggle on word meanings sometimes, so my parents helped me a lot whilst translating this poem. Also, the most difficult thing was getting the word order right and letting it make sense at the same time and what some specific words meant...

Due to the fact that this poem is very famous in Turkey and is written by a very important poet, every Turk that reads this poem will be reminded of Istanbul and its history because in Turkish literature everyone will have heard this poem at least once in their lifetime and it means a lot depending on your point of view to it.

Ebrar Aygin