Despatches to my Gazan Son

A destroyed home in Jabaliya, northern Gaza, January 2009.

Ashraf Amra APA images

Well-known Turkish poet Cahit Koytak started writing his 50-page poem Gazze Risalesi — translated into English by Rogan Wolf with Mevlut Ceylan as Despatches to my Gazan Son — on the 10th day of the 2008-09 Israeli attack on Gaza which killed 1,400 Palestinians. The full work is to be published by the Yunus Emre Institute. The Electronic Intifada presents three extracts from the English translation of the poem. Video recitals of the poem are available in both Turkish and English.


I belong in the company
of the world’s old poets.
I thought I could decipher
the language of the grass, the birds, the stones.
(What presumption! What disappointment!)
Yet whenever I try to speak
in human words of the children of Gaza,
my voice begins to tremble and grows hoarse.
If you only knew
how I have struggled
to draw forth words
from my mouth
that can serve the pure and perfect voice
of the human heart
in face of the bombed schools
and the bombed homes and the hospitals —
this ruination of human conscience.


You have suffered so much, yet you can do this.
We let you suffer so much,
No one in the world more than you
deserves in the name of all of us
to talk both with God and the Dark Angel.

Speak out and yield no ground.
Ask for the Earth
in the name of all the children of the Earth.
Speak out and yield no ground.
Demand the Earth, Yusuf my Gazan son,
don’t settle for some new
concentration camp
with “State of Palestine” inscribed above its gate.

Additions – I

While death goes to work early in Gaza,
here in Istanbul,
this most beautifully named of all cities,
this softest-hearted
and most tearful city in the world,
the eyes of the morning
open like wounds made with a nail
on the cross of this new day.

And when evening falls again
after hours of distant shelling
another twilight spreads like a scab
on the dying conscience of Man.