Poetry International Poetry International
Poem

Mustafa Kör

IDYLL

The village where I should be buried
has gushing fountains in which travelers wash,
Anatolian sheepdogs keep watch over angora goats 

There are people older than trees
their patchwork faces metamorphosed into
warriors from ancient times steadily chewing on
life that was tough and gave as good as it got 

Children ate black mulberries and laughed with
slow Abidin who smoked filterless Bafras and walked with a limp
because he’d slipped out of his mother’s womb too soon

he sang along to our songs at the top of his voice 

it’s raining a storm’s brewing 
Tatar girls look out of the window

to see if their soldiers are coming 

Endless days and playing with sticks and rocks and bones
until the shadows no longer cared to follow us
and our mothers cried: Mustafa!
I hope your loot is too heavy, scamp
hurry to the spring

And us only wayward and perfectly drilled
obeying the sultana’s wish for water

My infantile shoulders have borne a terracotta Euphrates
the colour of the sunken and my girl
Circassian nomad’s daughter wearing no bracelets
but tendrils curled like grapevines
tinder of my fire
I loved her like my mother’s milk 

The cry of wolves and muezzins echoed in that vale of tears
where I learned the mores of grandpa’s orchard
I found balance there to be left for safekeeping
on the back of a grey horse

the rustling of poplars, odours of quince and medlar, the dogged industry, ridged mountains, gypsy songs, gullies, the snow, cornfields, the deltas of sacrificed blood in the soil, whirlwinds, vineyards, nights as black as earth, veiled maidens, storks on minarets, elderly people in harem pants, the web of stars, the braying, barking, crowing, lowing, up to here in my alienated, cursed mind

A shout going out from the back fields of Brabant
to my friends, my love and in particular you Mr Fahri Bey
for the heralded slap that taught me more
than I could comprehend at the time, I was strange and quick-witted
you had to keep it brief so that I would grow as proud
as the flag we swore allegiance to

So selam from me: Kör number 67 class 2A
grandson of Osman the blind
also known as the emigrant
because my old man refused to worship
the carmine red earth, preferring
to be a tourist and taste milk and honey 

Like seeds I have strewn my children
across the fields of tenant farmers
mother chastised all the way to the Black Forest
of her German deathbed

I have grubbed around
in that barren land of my ancestors
until my palms throbbed  

My heart burst open like a pomegranate
when I committed my brother the self-killer
to the ground that was no longer mine.

IDYLLE

IDYLLE

Dat dorp waar ik begraven hoor te worden
heeft klaterende fonteinen waar reizigers zich laven
en Sivas herders de wacht houden over kuddes angora

Er leven mensen ouder dan bomen
hun gezichten als lappendekens verpopt
tot krijgers van weleer gestaag kauwend
aan het leven dat taai was en van zich af beet 

Kinderen aten er zwarte moerbeien en lachten
met slome Abidin die filterloze Bafra rookte en mank liep
omdat hij voortijdig uit zijn moeder was geroetsjt
hij zong uit volle borst mee met onze liederen 

het regent het stormt
Tataarse meisjes kijken uit ramen
of hun soldaat al komt 

Eindeloze dagen en spelen met keien, stokken en bikkels
tot slagschaduwen ons niet langer wilden achtervolgen
en onze moeders riepen: “Mustafa!
Dat uw buit te zwaar moge wegen onverlaat
haast u naar de bron” 

En wij maar balorig en prachtig gedresseerd
gehoorzamen aan de sultane’s waterwens 

Mijn infantiele schouders hebben een Eufraat in terracotta getorst|
de kleur van het verzonkene en mijn meisje
Circassische nomadendochter die geen armband droeg
maar rank krulde als druivelaars
tondel van mijn vuur
Ik hield van haar als het zog van mijn moeder 

Gehuil van wolven en muezzins echode in dat tranendal
waar ik de mores leerde in opa’s appelgaard
Ik vond er het evenwicht om in bewaring achter te laten
op een wilde schimmelrug 

Dat geruis van populieren, geuren van kweeperen en mispels,
de noeste arbeid, gekartelde bergen, het gezang van zigeuners,
geulen, de sneeuw, korenvelden, de delta’s van geofferd bloed
in de aarde, windhozen, wijngaarden, aardedonkere nachten,
gesluierde maagden, ooievaars op minaretten, ouden van dagen
in harembroek, het weefsel van sterren, het gebalk, geblaf,
gekraai, geloei, tot hier in mijn vervreemde, verdomde kop
Een grote groet vanachter Brabantse velden
aan mijn vrienden, mijn lief en vooral u meester Fahri Bey
om de aangekondigde tik die me wijzer maakte
dan ik toen kon bevroeden, ik was vreemd en ad rem
dat moest je kort houden opdat ik fier als de vlag
waar we trouw aan zworen, worden zou

Selam dus, van mij: Kör, no. 67, klas 2A
kleinzoon van Osman de blinde
ook wel gekend als de uitgewekene 

omdat mijn ouwe weigerde de karmijnrode aarde
nog te beminnen
die toerist, moest en zou honing en melk proeven 

Als zaaisel over akkers van pachtboeren
heb ik mijn kinderen gestrooid
geselde moeder zich tot aan het Zwarte Woud
op haar Duitse sterfbed 

Ik heb in ze gewoeld
dat barre land van mijn voorvaderen
tot mijn palmen gonsden

Mijn hart barstte open als granaatappels
toen ik mijn broer de zelfdoder toevertrouwde
aan grond die niet langer de mijne was

Close

IDYLL

The village where I should be buried
has gushing fountains in which travelers wash,
Anatolian sheepdogs keep watch over angora goats 

There are people older than trees
their patchwork faces metamorphosed into
warriors from ancient times steadily chewing on
life that was tough and gave as good as it got 

Children ate black mulberries and laughed with
slow Abidin who smoked filterless Bafras and walked with a limp
because he’d slipped out of his mother’s womb too soon

he sang along to our songs at the top of his voice 

it’s raining a storm’s brewing 
Tatar girls look out of the window

to see if their soldiers are coming 

Endless days and playing with sticks and rocks and bones
until the shadows no longer cared to follow us
and our mothers cried: Mustafa!
I hope your loot is too heavy, scamp
hurry to the spring

And us only wayward and perfectly drilled
obeying the sultana’s wish for water

My infantile shoulders have borne a terracotta Euphrates
the colour of the sunken and my girl
Circassian nomad’s daughter wearing no bracelets
but tendrils curled like grapevines
tinder of my fire
I loved her like my mother’s milk 

The cry of wolves and muezzins echoed in that vale of tears
where I learned the mores of grandpa’s orchard
I found balance there to be left for safekeeping
on the back of a grey horse

the rustling of poplars, odours of quince and medlar, the dogged industry, ridged mountains, gypsy songs, gullies, the snow, cornfields, the deltas of sacrificed blood in the soil, whirlwinds, vineyards, nights as black as earth, veiled maidens, storks on minarets, elderly people in harem pants, the web of stars, the braying, barking, crowing, lowing, up to here in my alienated, cursed mind

A shout going out from the back fields of Brabant
to my friends, my love and in particular you Mr Fahri Bey
for the heralded slap that taught me more
than I could comprehend at the time, I was strange and quick-witted
you had to keep it brief so that I would grow as proud
as the flag we swore allegiance to

So selam from me: Kör number 67 class 2A
grandson of Osman the blind
also known as the emigrant
because my old man refused to worship
the carmine red earth, preferring
to be a tourist and taste milk and honey 

Like seeds I have strewn my children
across the fields of tenant farmers
mother chastised all the way to the Black Forest
of her German deathbed

I have grubbed around
in that barren land of my ancestors
until my palms throbbed  

My heart burst open like a pomegranate
when I committed my brother the self-killer
to the ground that was no longer mine.

IDYLL

The village where I should be buried
has gushing fountains in which travelers wash,
Anatolian sheepdogs keep watch over angora goats 

There are people older than trees
their patchwork faces metamorphosed into
warriors from ancient times steadily chewing on
life that was tough and gave as good as it got 

Children ate black mulberries and laughed with
slow Abidin who smoked filterless Bafras and walked with a limp
because he’d slipped out of his mother’s womb too soon

he sang along to our songs at the top of his voice 

it’s raining a storm’s brewing 
Tatar girls look out of the window

to see if their soldiers are coming 

Endless days and playing with sticks and rocks and bones
until the shadows no longer cared to follow us
and our mothers cried: Mustafa!
I hope your loot is too heavy, scamp
hurry to the spring

And us only wayward and perfectly drilled
obeying the sultana’s wish for water

My infantile shoulders have borne a terracotta Euphrates
the colour of the sunken and my girl
Circassian nomad’s daughter wearing no bracelets
but tendrils curled like grapevines
tinder of my fire
I loved her like my mother’s milk 

The cry of wolves and muezzins echoed in that vale of tears
where I learned the mores of grandpa’s orchard
I found balance there to be left for safekeeping
on the back of a grey horse

the rustling of poplars, odours of quince and medlar, the dogged industry, ridged mountains, gypsy songs, gullies, the snow, cornfields, the deltas of sacrificed blood in the soil, whirlwinds, vineyards, nights as black as earth, veiled maidens, storks on minarets, elderly people in harem pants, the web of stars, the braying, barking, crowing, lowing, up to here in my alienated, cursed mind

A shout going out from the back fields of Brabant
to my friends, my love and in particular you Mr Fahri Bey
for the heralded slap that taught me more
than I could comprehend at the time, I was strange and quick-witted
you had to keep it brief so that I would grow as proud
as the flag we swore allegiance to

So selam from me: Kör number 67 class 2A
grandson of Osman the blind
also known as the emigrant
because my old man refused to worship
the carmine red earth, preferring
to be a tourist and taste milk and honey 

Like seeds I have strewn my children
across the fields of tenant farmers
mother chastised all the way to the Black Forest
of her German deathbed

I have grubbed around
in that barren land of my ancestors
until my palms throbbed  

My heart burst open like a pomegranate
when I committed my brother the self-killer
to the ground that was no longer mine.

Sponsors
Gemeente Rotterdam
Nederlands Letterenfonds
Stichting Van Beuningen Peterich-fonds
Ludo Pieters Gastschrijver Fonds
Hendrik Muller fonds
Lira fonds
J.E. Jurriaanse
Literature Translation Institute of Korea
Partners
LantarenVenster – Verhalenhuis Belvédère