GALLIPOLI – A POSTWAR EPIC

“What land were you torn away from,

what makes you so sad having come here”

Asked Mehmet, the soldier from Anatolia

addressing the Anzac lying near

“FROM THE UTTERMOST ENDS OF THE WORLD I come

so it writes on my tombstone”

answered the youthful Anzac “and here I am

buried in a land that I had not even known”

“do not be disheartened mate”

Mehmet told him tenderly

“you share with us the same fate

in the bosom of our country

you are not a stranger anymore

you have become a Mehmet just like me”

a paradise on earth Gallipoli

is a burial under the ground

those who lost their lives in fighting

lie there mingled in friendly compound

Mehmet then asked an English soldier

who seemed to be at the playing age

“how old are you little brother

what brought you here at such an early stage”

“I am fifteen forever” the English soldier said

“in the village from where I come

I used to play war with the children

arousing them with my drum

then I found myself in the front

was it real or a game before I could tell

my drum fell silent

as I was struck with a shell

a place was dug for me in Gallipoli

on my stone was inscribed “DRUMMER AGE FIFTEEN”

thus ended my playful task and this is the record

of what I have done and what I have been”

A distant drum bereaved of its master

was weeping somewhere around

as drops of tear fell on it

with the soft rainfall on the ground

what winds had hurled

all those youthful braves

from four continents of the world

to the Gallipoli graves

Mehmet asked in wonder

they were English or Scotch

they were French or Senegalese

they were Indians or Nepalese

they were Anzacs

from Australia and New Zealand

shipfuls of soldiers who had landed

on the lacy bays of Gallipoli not knowing why

climbed the hills and slopes rising high

digging trenches cutting the earth like wounds

to shelter as graves those were to die

Some were “BELIEVED TO BE BURIED”

in one cemetery or other

some were in “GRAVES UNKNOWN”

all had “ENTERED INTO REST”

in the language of the tombstone

at the age of sixteen or seventeen or eighteen

under the soil of Gallipoli

thus their short-lived stories were told

as inscriptions on tablets of old

buried there Mehmet of Anatolia

without a stone to tell

consoled them saying “brothers

I understand you well

for centuries I also had to die

in distant lands not knowing why

for the first time I gave my life not feeling sore

for I gave it here for my own in a war

thus the sultan’s fief tilled for ages with my hand

has now become for me a motherland

you who died in this land you did not know

are no more foreigner or foe

for the land which you could not take

has taken you to her bosom too

you therefore belong here

as much as I do”

In Gallipoli a strange war was fought

cooling off the feelings

as fighting became hot

it was a ruthless war

yet breeding respect

in heart-to-heart exchange

as confronting trenches

fell into closer range

turning foe to friend

as the fighters reached their end

the war came to a close

those who survived

returned to their lands and homes

leaving the dead behind

wild flowers wave after wave

replaced the retiring soldiers

wild roses and mountain tulips and daisies

were spread as rugs on the ground

covering trench-by-trench

the wounds of fighting on the earth

the sheep turned the bunkers into sheds

the birds replaced the bullets in the sky

nature with hands holding the plough instead of guns

captured back the battlegrounds

with its flowers and fruits and greenery

and life returned to the soil

as traces of blood were effaced

turning the hell of the battlefield

into a paradise on earth

Gallipoli now abounds

with gardensful

with nationsful

of burial grounds

a paradise on earth Gallipoli

is a burial under the ground

those who lost their lives in fighting

lie there mingled in friendly compound

“lying side by side”

as “friends in each other’s arms”

they may “sleep in comfort and peace”

in the land for which they died

by BULENT ECEVIT