Poetry Day Guest Post by Beste Barki

Poetry day is on Friday!

Today's guest blogger is Beste Barki!

More difficult than dying

Once we hit the age of 65, reconciling with our past becomes more of a concern. It is not possible to envision the future without examining the past. There may be those who proclaim they never look back, but they are likely not speaking the truth. After 65, commonly, the idea of dying gains permanency in the mind, for death becomes more of a relevant possibility. And haven’t we all thought more about death since the virus has taken over? It is certainly better to wear a mask, keep our distance and not hug even our loved ones than to die short of breath in a hospital bed. You may say, why tell us all this, we know it so well! I am over 65 and I feel the need to vent.

People who are older, like me, are saying, “We have limited time ahead of us and this bug is stealing our precious years.” They are right, of course. Looking at personal and media photos from the past fills us with wonder at how we all sat in crowds and ate and drank all together. How fearlessly we touched each other and breathed the same air.

There is no slipping away from death, but realizing the things we’re going to miss makes the event difficult. What we might miss; going on a trip, relaxing in a lounge chair at the beach, rice pilaf and beans, especially with pickled peppers on the side…the yellow of the mimosa, the light of the full moon, the smell of a new book, the laughter of a grandchild...

The Turkish poet Yahya Kemal Beyatlı (1884–1958) expresses this sentiment well in his poem “Eylül Sonu / End of September”:
Günler kısaldı... Kanlıca'nın ihtiyarları
Bir bir hatırlamakta geçen sonbaharları.

Yalnız bu semti sevmek için ömrümüz kısa...
Yazlar yavaşça bitmese, günler kısalmasa...

İçtik bu nâdir içki'yi yıllarca kanmadık...
Bir böyle zevke tek bir ömür yetmiyor, yazık!

Ölmek kaderde var, bize ürküntü vermiyor;
Lâkin vatandan ayrılışın ıztırâbı zor.

Hiç dönmemek ölüm gecesinden bu sâhile,
Bitmez bir özleyiştir, ölümden beter bile.

The days have grown shorter...the elderly of Kanlıca
Remember one by one the autumns past.

However, a lifetime is too short to love this district...
If only the summers didn’t come to an end slowly, the days didn’t shorten...

We drank of this rare drink and weren’t quenched
Alas, a lifetime is not enough to savour it!

To die is our fate, it doesn’t scare us;
Yet, the anguish of separating from our native land is difficult to bear.

Never to return to this shore from the night of death,
Is a never-ending longing, even more difficult than dying.

Knowing we’re going to die and yet to live as if there was no death is a human feat. We still have so much to be grateful for. Thanks to science there are vaccines to protect us. There is a majority who believe we are going to get out of this together even if we can’t be close now. Soon we are going to dive into the crowds. We are going to be able to listen live to the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, directed by their new conductor Rafael Payare. We will go for walks along the redesigned Lachine Marina. Summer will arrive, ice cream shops will open, the International Fireworks Competition will be held. We will all enjoy life together, even if there is death at the end of it.

Thank you, mom (anneciğim we say in Turkish), for your lovely thoughtful post!

Thursday next week is Tolkien Reading Day 2021!

"What is Tolkien Reading Day?
Tolkien Reading Day is held on the 25th of March each year. The date of the 25th of March was chosen as the date on which the Ring was destroyed, completing Frodo’s quest and vanquishing Sauron.

It has been organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages. We particularly encourage schools, museums and libraries to host their own Tolkien Reading Day events.

March Events
For this year’s Tolkien Reading Day the Tolkien Society is extremely excited to be teaming up with the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic at the University of Glasgow to host and celebrate the event.

We are working with the Centre for Fantasy and the Fantastic to create engaging and interactive social media throughout March. On the 25th March we will come together and you will be able to attend one of the three Zoom meetings that will be taking place throughout the day for readers around the world to share their favourite passages and react to the passages shared by others. Did we also mention that these events are free to attend?"

Which poems are you reading or rereading this week?


Jeff said…
I love that poem. And, as I approach 65, I do think more and more about death, not in a fearful way, but out of curiosity. I am reading Cormac McCarthy's "Suttree." in the opening, a old hobo says something like, "They say death slips up on you in the middle of the night. I wish he'd hurry up, I'll hug his neck."

Hi Deniz and Beste - wonderful poem ... so emotive to read. We will get through ... I have to say I always return to the days of the First World War and what horrors awaited those youngsters - I just consider myself lucky to be where I am in life - in the last quarter probably - and yes I've missed so much - yet that is who we are, and where life has taken us. I hope to live at peace as I continue ... with no regrets - those can't dampen the spirit ... and now I will expand my mind as I travel towards the denouement ... stay safe and live to enjoy all we can do in these times. All the best - Hilary
Deniz Bevan said…
So glad you both enjoyed the post! I think I have a copy of that story somewhere, Jeff, I'll look out for it!