All of a sudden

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Everything happened all of a sudden.

All of a sudden daylight beat down on the earth;

There was the sky all of a sudden;

All of a sudden steam began to rise from the soil.

There were tendrils all of a sudden, buds all of a sudden.

And there were fruits all of a sudden.

All of a sudden,

All of a sudden,

Girls all of a sudden, boys all of a sudden.

Roads, moors, cats, people…

And there was love all of a sudden,

Happiness all of a sudden.

Orhan Veli Kanik
Translated by Anil Mericelli
Orhan Veli Kanik


b., 1914, Istanbul; d., November 14, 1950, Istanbul

Orhan Veli received a liberal education but left the University of Istanbul in 1935 before
completing his studies. He worked in the Ankara Post Office until he was called up during World War II. On his discharge in 1945 he obtained a post as translator in the Ministry of Education but left his job in less than two years to lead a bohemian existence. A cerebral hemorrhage ended his life. Orhan Veli was more influenced by Japanese haiku than by any Turkish or even conventional Western poetic source. He felt that we “must free ourselves from poetic conceptions and from the effort to make the use of words beautiful.”

“I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.

The drunkeness of ancient feastings in my head.

A seashore villa with dim -lit boathouse

With howling of the dying west wind

I am listening to Istanbul, with my eyes closed.”

Though not a prolific writer, Veli represents a watershed in Turkish literature. He broke the conventional mold of polite Turkish verse by discarding rhyme and meter. After him free verse and an unlimited range of themes became the rule.

“The problem and so on, it was not thus.
“To be or not to be” for him:

One evening he went to sleep:

He just didn’t wake up.

They took him; they carried him out.

Washed him, said their prayers, buried him.

If he creditors hear that he has died

Surely they will forgive his debts.

As for the money owed to him,

The late lamented, had no credit due to him for sure.”

from Contemporary Turkish Writers – A Critical Bio-Bibliography
Louis Mitler – Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, 1988.

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