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Nightingales and Pleasure Gardens
Turkish Love Poems

Edited and Translated from the Turkish by Talat S. Halman

Associate Editor, Jayne L. Warner

Paper $16.95    |    0-8156-0835-7    |   2005

The first anthology of Turkish love poetry in English, featuring more than one hundred poems by over fifty poets from centuries ago to the most recent decades.

ForeWord Magazine selects Nightingales and Pleasure Gardens: Turkish Love Poems as one of the Big Ten Exceptional Books from University Presses.

"This volume deserves a warm welcome. Presenting poetry in translation calls for courage: technical difficulties can overwhelm. Because few readers (and certainly not this reviewer) can compare originals and translations, the latter simply have to ‘work,’ and a surprising number of Halman’s do. Some sixty poets, from Aprin Çor Tigin (sixth century A.D.) to contemporaries, appear here; for each, the translator provides an identifying note. Though Rumi and Yunus Emre are well represented, twentieth-century poets dominate.

Contrasting styles abound. Suleyman the Magnificent fixes upon exotic imagery: ‘My sheer delight, my revelry, my feast, / My torch, my sunshine, my sun in heaven; / My orange, my pomegranate, / The flaming candle that lights up my pavilion’; while a folk poet combines concision with force: ‘Without fruit, the branch is dry- / Can the stars abandon the sky? / They tell me to leave my love. / Can't give up love-how can I?’

Nazit Hikmet, whom persecution failed to wean from communism, gets generous treatment here. His ‘prison poems’ confirm the power of personal beliefs; one is particularly poignant: ‘How lovely to remember you, / in the midst of the news of death and victory, / in prison, / when I am past forty.’

This book offers not only the delights of Islamic poetry, but also a cultural education."
dash ForeWord Magazine

"Nightengales & Pleasure Gardens is a gathering of Turkish poetry from the sixth century A.D. to the present day, including passages from epics, classical poems of the Ottoman Empire, folk poems, and enduring verses by immortal authors such as Rumi, Yunis Emre, and Nazim Hikment, all skillfully translated into English by Talat S. Halman. A collection of brief biographical notes of the various authors rounds out this excellent romantic gift or contribution to poetry shelves."
dash Midwest Book Review

The earliest Turkish verses, dating from the sixth century A.D., were love lyrics. Since then, love has dominated the Turks' poetic modes and moodsdashpre-Islamic, Ottoman classical, folk, modern. In style, form and sensibility, this collection offers a broad spectrum: virtually all types and varieties are represented here. The English versions are loyal to the originals and strive to be authentic poems in English.

Here are lyrics from pre-Islamic Central Asia, passages from epics, mystical ecstasies of such eminent thirteenth-century figures as Rumi and Yunus Emre, classical poems of the Ottoman Empire (including Süleyman the Magnificent and women courtly poets), lilting folk poems, and the work of the legendary communist Nazim Hikmet (who is arguably Turkey's most famous poet internationally) and the greatest living Turkish poet, Fazil Hüsnü Dag larca. The verses in this collection are true to the Turkish spirit as well as universal in their appeal. They show how Turks praise and satirize love, how they see it as a poetic experience. Poetry was for many centuries the premier Turkish genre and love its predominant theme. Some of the best expressions of that happy coalescence can be found in this volume.

View other books in this series

Talat S. Halman is professor and chair of Turkish literature at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey. He is the author of many books including Contemporary Turkish Literature and Living Poets of Turkey. He has also written two volumes of poetry in English: Shadows of Love and A Last Lullaby.

Jayne L. Warner is director of research at the Institute for Aegean Prehistory in New York.

6 x 9, 176 pages, preface, biographical notes on poets

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