Birds of Imagination, by ATTILA ILHAN (1925-2005)

attila in love

the most frightening crimson ones hit the windows of my sleep

with pointed beaks shiny like the scales of fish

their loneliness is untamed their eyes are heavy maharajah eyes
their magnetic crests like a handful of sparks

their slender necks reach out to all kinds of daydreams
you think they’re the red velvet holders of purple hubble-bubbles

when they open their wings the clouds change their colors
in their complicated feet they wear cloven slippers of lightning

the echo of their horrible green screech narrows the horizons
their shrieks pierce the bloody palms of the tyrants

they’re the birds of imagination elusive turn into dust when touched
to exist in freedom only is their most unforgivable crime

Translated into English by Nilűfer Mizanoğlu Reddy

ATTILA ILHAN, who died on this day in 2005, was a Turkish Poet with a socialist outlook and a popular orientation. Aged 16, in 1941, he got into trouble for sending a poem by Nazım Hikmet, a famous dissident communist Turkish poet, to a girl he was in love with. Informed on by school authorities, he was arrested and taken into custody for three weeks. He was also dismissed from school and jailed for two months. He continued to be persecuted for his courage and his beauty all his life, but never gave in. He died a free and undefeated human whose life and work will continue to inspire the revolt of love and imagination against oppression and conformity.

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