"I am Listening to Istanbul"
by Orhan Veli KanikI had a young Turkish teenage friend who was supposed to be learning English from me, but he was just as much the teacher, as he delighted in bringing me weekly linguistic treasure from his culture. We fell into the habit of each bringing each other one masterpiece from our native language every week. Of course, while his authors were Turkish, I had to read his offerings in English.
If you want to deepen your love of your own culture and language, try to narrow down your favorite creations to one masterpiece a week. It's hard! I shared Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" and my young friend said "If -- playing on the title -- If -- you believe there are men like that, you'll be single forever!" I had to laugh.
Then I shared another favorite: Teddy Roosevelt's "In the Arena." He liked that one. And yet another wonderful poem to share was "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost because my friend felt such delight when he instantly understood the metaphor at the end. "Invictus" by William Ernest Henley with its famous last two lines, and "Ozymandias" with its sly message against pride were hits. It was especially fun for me to pull out as many inspiring masculine poems as I could find and still I hadn't even yet cracked open the poetry books of Robert Service or shared Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire."
One masterpiece he shared with me from Turkish culture was the poem by Orhan Veli Kanik, "I am listening to Istanbul." My young friend read it to me in English. Now I think I know enough of the original language, I am going to try and learn it in Turkish. Maybe there are other poems I should try. Is there a more beautiful context for learning language?
"I have come to love English." my student said at the end of our time together. We ran out of weeks before I ran out of masterpieces.
The time we get to share with someone is so short, whomever it may be. I am so grateful for that experience.
Whom are you sharing with that brings you joy? Be grateful to share this moment. Appreciate it with enthusiasm, even if only to yourself.