A Beirut Story by Orhan Kemal

In Beirut
At “New Istanbul Restaurant”
Washing the dishes
I am eighteen years old,
My hair is combed and shiny,
White Eleni who works at the lithography,
On my mind.
What if she sees me washing the dishes?

“Should I run away?”
To Eleni for instance,
“Let’s run away together!”
I would tell her,
And hold her arm,
Drag her with me;
From the Beirut Port,
We would get on the ferry
With three chimneys.

In the evening,
My father, holding his beating heart
With his round fingers:
-My God! Where is he?
He would say.
While waiting in front of the Jewish owner’s shop
My mother would remember in panic:
“Hasan, the son of the herbalist,
had left one morning like this,
and did not return to his home, either!”
Days would pass.
Every evening,
With two loaves of bread and with his loving eyes,
Their son would not appear
In front of their knitted fabric door,
In the ruined walls of their garden.

What a tough thing to be in love.
What you plan at home,
Does not go with
The market!
Eleni is beautiful,
Roads are flawless,
The ferry is huge,
They are waiting for loaves of bread in the evening!

Translated by Nejla Karabulut


A Farewell Song Of White Clouds by Li Po (Li Bai)

Leonard Durso

The white clouds float over the mountains of Chu–
As over the mountains of Chin.
Everywhere the white clouds will follow you on.

They will follow you on everywhere–
With you they will enter the Chu mountains,
And cross the waters of the Hsiang.

Yonder across the waters of the Hsiang,
There is a cloak of ivy to wear,
And you may lie in a bed of white clouds.

Go swiftly home, O my friend!

translated by Shigeyoshi Obata

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