Orhan Veli

Orhan Veli Kanık (b., 1914, Istanbul; d., November 14, 1950, Istanbul)

from Contemporary Turkish Writers – A Critical Bio-Bibliography Louis Mitler – Indiana University Uralic and Altaic Series, 1988. p. 142-144.

“Son of the conductor of the Presidential Symphony, Orhan Veli received a good liberal education but left 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. His younger brother, Adnan Veli, himself a writer, was imprisoned for political offense in 1949 but Orhan Veli was able to publish a literary journal, Yaprak [Leaf], for 28 issues until a cerebral hemorrage ended his life. ”

“Orhan Veli was more influenced by the sketch image of the 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”

“It is no exaggeration to say that Orhan Veli and the Garip movement represents a watershed in Turkish literature. After him free verse and an unlimited range of themes became the rule, while ‘aruz’ meter and ‘the rose and the nightingale’ became anachronisms. Though not a prolific writer himself, Orhan Veli broke the conventional mold of polite Turkish verse. While discarding rhyme and meter Orhan Veli expresses an almost nihilistic world view that replaced him firmly in the company of modern western man. 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.”


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 Kanık – Translated by Anil Mericelli


These fine days have been my ruin.
On this kind of day I resigned
My job in “Pious Foundations.”
On this kind of day I started to smoke
On this kind of day I fell in love
On this kind of day I forgot
To bring home bread and salt
On this kind of day I had a relapse
In my versifying disease.
These fine days have been my ruin.

– Orhan Veli Kanık – Translated by Bernard Lewis (1982)


How pleasant, oh dear God, how pleasant
To journey on the blue sea
To cast off from shore
Aimless as thought.

I would set sail to the wind
And wander from sea to sea
To find myself one morning
In some deserted bay.

In a harbor large and clean
A harbor in coral isles
Where in the wake of clouds
A golden summer trails.

The languid scent of oleasters
Would fill me there
And the taste of sorrow
Never find that place.

Sparrows would nest in the flowered
Eaves of my dream castle
The evenings would unravel with colors
The days pass in pomegranate gardens.

– Orhan Veli Kanık – Translated by Ozcan Yalım, William Fielder and Dionis Coffin Riggs (1982)



  • Garip (The Stranger) 1941 (with Oktay Rıfat and Melih Cevdet Anday, edition consisting only of his own poems) 1945
  • Vazgeçemediğim (What I Could Not Give Up) 1945
  • Destan Gibi (Like a Legend) 1946 Yenisi (The new one) 1947
  • Karşı  (Against) 1949
  • Istanbul’u dinliyorum (I am Listening to Istanbul) 1966 (Eng. trans. New York, Corinth Books, 1971)
  • Folktales La Fontaine’nin masalları (Tales of La Fontaine) 1943
  • Nasreddin Hoca’nın hikayeleri (Stories of Nasreddin Hodja) 1949

Prose writings

Orhan Veli, Nesir Yazıları  (Orhan Veli, his prose writings) 1953 (reprinted as Denize Doğru [To the Sea] 1970)

Complete works

  • Orhan Veli, bütün eserleri (Orhan Veli, complete works):
  • Edebiyat dünyamız (Our literary world) 1975 (vol. 1)
  • Bütün şiirleri (His complete poems) 1975 (vol. 2)

About Orhan Veli Kanık

  • Son Yaprak (Last Leaf) 1950 (Commemorative edition of Yaprak [Leaf] a journal coedited by Orhan Veli) Kanık
  • Adnan Veli Kanık,  “Orhan Veli için” (For Orhan Veli), 1953
  • Asım Bezirci, “Orhan Veli Kanık”, 1967 [Bibliography]In Papirus magazine, special Orhan Veli edition, January 1967
  • Muzaffer Uyguner, “Orhan Veli, hayatı, sanatı, seçme şiirleri” (Orhan Veli, his life, his art and selected poems) 1967
  • Yüksel Pazarkaya, in Yeni Dergi, June, 1967.

About Suresh Emre

I have worked as a physicist at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and the Superconducting Super Collider Laboratory. I am a volunteer for the Renaissance Universal movement. My main goal is to inspire the reader to engage in Self-discovery and expansion of consciousness.
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