Poems of Tevfik Fikret and Mehmet Akif Ersoy

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Evocations f Utopia are as time-honored as Turkish culture. As nomads in Central Asia (before their exodus into Asia Minor started in the ninth century), Turks had already given eloquent expression to their yearning for heavenly havens. Having embraced Islam in the succeeding centuries, they became enamored f the Koran's irresistible descriptions f paradise.


The most tantalizing episode f escape into Utopia occurred at the turn f the century when a group f prominent romantic poets and novelists, including Tevfik Fikret, Cenap Sehabettin, Mehmet Rauf, et alia, no longer able to endure the sultan's repressive regime, planned to sail together to New Zealand, where they hoped to establish their own commune in pursuit f their vision f ideal life. Shortly before their departure they had a change f heart: some members f the group felt apprehensive about cultural disorientation in far-off New Zealand. The grand design fell through, but their aspiration for Utopia endured. Turkish poetry was later to experience the agonized Utopian visions f the symbolist Ahmet Hasim and the self-deluding millenarian promises f Marxist-Leninists like Nazim Hikmet.
Perhaps for the first time in Turkish literature, Hilmi Yavuz (b. 1936), a prominent poet and essayist, offers a philosophical Utopia. His vehicle does not conform to any pat genre: it is neither a tract nor a novella. The author identifies it as "anlati," a nebulous neologism which connotes description, narrative, narration, et cetera. It is a stimulating inquiry into Greek, European, and Islamic thought. ...
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