The full moon over Ayvalik

Aziz Isa  Elkun 
Translated from Uyghur by Abdusami Sadir

The shadow of the full moon over Ayvalik1
Is drifting on the Marmara Sea tonight.
It is dancing with the lively fish,
Singing praises of love!

On the opposite shore
I am subject to solitude.
With yesterday’s thoughts and feelings
Only adding to my sorrow and confusion.

This evening, which took shape before my eyes
and captivated me, is exhausted.
My heart is pierced by the wild feelings
Newly born within me tonight.

The moon-like siren at Ayvalik
Is singing on the Marmara Sea,
Urging me forward towards her.

From the closest shore to you
Cannot wait until you come,
So I catch your shadow and make a boat,
Wishing to set a-sail.

I wish to take you,
Bind you,
Carve you
Onto my parched heart,
burning like fire in the Teklimakan.2

O, Moon…
Have the pearl-like eyes in the sky
Made a place for you to stay?
Have the precious stones in the sea
Fallen down from you?
They are twinkling and cutting through the horizon,
On this mysterious night.

O, Moon…
Together with the stars you become a torch,
A warship between the darkened clouds.
You are unmatched in this world
So I obey you in silence.
The night, which kisses the horizon,
Also pays homage to you.

O, Moon…
The full moon over Ayvalik,
I have begun to recognise you now,
I have made a mark on you.
Have you been here before?
Have you come from my own distant sky?
From the nights of
And the six cities?7

“O Moon,
You moon of mine…”
I wish to shout out with all my heart.
Born as a diver upon the beach of Ayvalik,
Questions have come to me and
I wish to find the answers:

A place in Turkestan,8 far from the sea,
Which saw you this very night.
Did you recognise the people from Ayköl?
Was darkness enshrouding Aydingköl?9
Were the dogs barking in Aqsu?10
When young men became martyrs in Lükchün,11
When vultures filled the evening skies of Yilqa,12
Were the doe which disappeared from Maralbéshi,13
Crying by the Tarim River?14

Full moon over Ayvalik,
Did you recognise on your trip today;
The people, who love the crescent moon and stars,
Who say: “We are not a white flag”?
Those who believe in Khan Tengri,15 which every evening
lays out like a white carpet onto your path?
And the Teklimakan,
A mystical place with an ocean of sand,
Capturing precisely your own reflected shape?

Since I have gone through so much
My feelings are rushed,
Moving in every direction.
The early arrival of God’s light
Adds sorrow to my peaceful heart.
It wishes to steal it away,
so drags the full moon over Ayvalik
away to the west!

Life continues as normal in the streets of Ayvalik,
The sound of Adhan16 in the loudspeakers,
Calling us to the morning prayer…
In the amusement arcades on the seafront
Foreign music is playing.
The barking of dogs,
The clucking of hens,
Sweethearts on the street corner being driven away.

Full moon over Ayvalik,
I am an artist tonight
So I shall paint on my heart
The shadows on the Marmara Sea.
My pen has drawn a chain to tie you to the ocean,
Yet the ink became blood and I scribbled you out,
Staining your face!

O, Moon…
If you leave at this very moment,
Then I beg from you on your return
When you see the Teklimakan,
When you kiss the Tengri Mountains,
To bring greetings from your slave who loves you,
From this exiled Uyghur,
From Ayvalik!

O, Moon…
I was waiting for you in Ayvalik,
But is life really this romantic?
I cannot smile,
I do not even have a smile,
So how is it possible to force one?!

O, my moon…
The full moon over Ayvalik,
I shall never give up hope.
I shall never abandon my desire.
Through this night,
Through your light,
I am in love with you.

Ayvalik, Turkey
23rd August 2013



Read the original version of this poem in Uyghur language:

Read the poem in Turkish:


1. Ayvalik (Turkish: Ayvalık) is a sea-side town on the North-Eastern coast of Turkey.

2. The Teklimakan (Uyghur: تەكلىماكان) is the world’s second largest shifting-sand desert, located in the current Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

3. Ayköl (Uyghur: ئايكۆل ) is a town currently in Aqsu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

4. Aybagh (Uyghur: ئايباغ ) is a township currently in Awat County, Aqsu Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

5. Küybagh (Uyghur: كۈيباغ ) is a town currently in Poskam County, Kasghar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

6. Altay (Uyghur: ئالتاي ) is a city currently in Ili Kazakh Autonomous County, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. This city is named after the Altay Mountain Range, which holds great symbolic meaning for the Turkic people of the region.

7. The ‘Six Oasis Cities’ (Uyghur: ئالتە شەھەر ) is a traditional name for the major oases towns of the region, namely: Khotan, Yarkand, Kashgar, Üch-Turpan, Yengisar, and Aqsu.

8. Turkestan is a Persian word, literally meaning ‘Place of the Turks’. It refers to the cultural and linguistic sphere of the Turks, used generally to define the region of modern-day Turkic Central Asia.

9. Aydingköl (Uyghur: ئايدىڭكۆل) meaning ‘Moonlit Lake’ is a lake, currently situated approximately 30km from Turpan City, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

10. Aqsu (Uyghur: ئاقسۇ ) is a major city and seat of the Aqsu Prefecture, currently in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

11. Lükchün (Uyghur: لۈكچۈن ) is a town currently in Pichan County, Turpan Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

12. Yilqa (Uyghur:يىلقىچى ) is a township currently in Kargilik County, Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

13. Maralbéshi (Uyghur: مارالبېشى) is a county currently in Kashgar Prefecture, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China. Its name literally means ‘Doe’s Head’, hence the reference to the doe in the text.

14. The Tarim River (Uyghur: تارىم دەرياسى ) is the main river of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China.

15. Khan Tengri (Uyghur: خانتەڭرى) is one of the tallest mountains in the Tengritagh Mountain Range, situated between the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The name Tengri refers to a deity in Old Turkic and Mongolic belief, literally meaning ‘sky’.

16. Adhan (in  Arabic: أَذَان‎ ) is the Islamic call to worship, which is called out from mosques five times a day.

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