This article is also available in: Italiano
On October 29th the Republic of Turkey turns 100 and to celebrate I believe there is nothing better than discovering together its anthem, the İstiklâl Marşı, one of the most patriotic in the world
The birth of the İstiklâl Marşı
To discover the birth of the İstiklâl Marşı, the anthem of Turkey, we must go back in time to 1921, the year in which this problem was raised for the first time. We are in the midst of the Turkish War of Independence and it is precisely to this historical moment that the İstiklâl Marşı owes its particularly patriotic verve and military features; In fact, Atatürk needed a march for his soldiers to sing to be particularly motivated in battle and this is why he organized a real competition in which 724 compositions participated.
Finally, the one chosen was that of the great poet Mehmet Akif Ersoy, one of the most important in all of Turkish history, and on 1 March 1921 his poetry was unanimously proclaimed the winner. Once the text had been chosen, however, it was necessary to establish what the melody should be, a question that was resolved only in 1924 with a new competition, the winner of which was the composer Ali Rıfat Çağatay; it must be said, however, that his victory lasted just 6 years, as in 1930 Osman Zeki Üngör’s melody was adopted.
The curious thing is that this however was not the definitive version of the anthem, as in 1932 it was harmonized by the composer of Armenian origin Edgar Manas, giving it the music and the definitive form that we still know today.
The lyrics of the Turkish anthem
Below you will find the English translation of the İstiklâl Marşı and its Turkish version, both texts are taken from the Wikipedia page of the same name; it is good to note that in the hymn sung only the first 2 verses are recited, even if the complete text is present in the official text. Happy reading and best wishes to Turkey and the Turkish people.
The English translation
Fear not! The red banner that ripples in this dawn, shall fade not,
Before the last hearth that is ablaze within my homeland is extinguished.
It is the star of my people, which shall shine;
It is mine; only it belongs to my people.
Frown not, I beseech you, oh you coy crescent!
Smile upon my heroic nation once! What is this violence, what for is this rage?
Or our blood which we shed for you shall not be worthy afterwards…
Freedom is the right of my God-worshipping nation.
Since the beginning I have lived free, I live in freedom,
What madman shall fetter me? I would be surprised.
Like a roaring flood I am, I would trample my banks, I would exceed,
I shall tear mountains apart, exceed the Expanses and overflow.
If the steel armored wall surrounds the horizons of the West,
I have a borderline like my faithful chest.
You are mighty, fear not! How can this faith be drowned,
By the single toothed beast they call “civilization”?
Comrade! Do not ever let ignobles visit our homeland,
Shield your chest, this disgraceful offense shall be stopped.
The days promised to you by God shall arise,
Who knows, perhaps tomorrow, perhaps even sooner than tomorrow.
View not the soil you tread on as mere Earth – recognize it!
And think about the shroudless thousands who lie so nobly beneath you.
You are the glorious son of a martyr – take shame, grieve not your ancestors!
Unhand not, even when you are promised worlds, this heavenly homeland.
Who would not sacrifice their life for this paradise of a country?
Martyrs would burst forth should one simply squeeze the soil! Martyrs!
May God take my life, my loved ones, and all possessions from me if He wills,
But let Him not deprive me of my one true homeland in the world.
Oh glorious God, the sole wish of my pain-stricken heart is that,
No heathen’s hand should ever touch the bosom of my sacred Temples.
These adhans and their testimonies are the foundations of my religion,
And may their noble sound prevail thunderously across my eternal homeland.
For only then, shall my fatigued tombstone, if there is one, prostrate a thousand times in ecstasy,
And tears of blood shall, oh Lord, spill out from my every wound,
And my lifeless body shall burst forth from the earth like an eternal spirit,
Perhaps only then, shall I peacefully ascend and at long last reach the heavens.
So ripple and wave like the bright dawning sky, oh you glorious crescent,
So that our every last drop of blood may finally be blessed and worthy!
Neither you nor my kin shall ever be extinguished!
For freedom is the absolute right of my ever-free flag;
For independence is the absolute right of my God-worshipping nation!
The original text
Korkma! Sönmez bu şafaklarda yüzen al sancak,
Sönmeden yurdumun üstünde tüten en son ocak.
O benim milletimin yıldızıdır, parlayacak;
O benimdir, o benim milletimindir ancak.
Çatma, kurban olayım, çehreni ey nazlı hilal!
Kahraman ırkıma bir gül; ne bu şiddet, bu celal?
Sana olmaz dökülen kanlarımız sonra helal…
Hakkıdır, Hakk’a tapan milletimin istiklal.
Ben ezelden beridir hür yaşadım, hür yaşarım,
Hangi çılgın bana zincir vuracakmış? Şaşarım.
Kükremiş sel gibiyim, bendimi çiğner, aşarım,
Yırtarım dağları, enginlere sığmam, taşarım.
Garbın afakını sarmışsa çelik zırhlı duvar,
Benim iman dolu göğsüm gibi serhaddim var.
Ulusun, korkma! Nasıl böyle bir imanı boğar,
“Medeniyet” dediğin tek dişi kalmış canavar?
Arkadaş! Yurduma alçakları uğratma sakın,
Siper et gövdeni, dursun bu hayâsızca akın.
Doğacaktır sana vadettiği günler Hakk’ın,
Kim bilir, belki yarın belki yarından da yakın.
Bastığın yerleri “toprak” diyerek geçme, tanı,
Düşün altındaki binlerce kefensiz yatanı.
Sen şehit oğlusun, incitme, yazıktır atanı,
Verme, dünyaları alsan da bu cennet vatanı.
Kim bu cennet vatanın uğruna olmaz ki feda?
Şüheda fışkıracak, toprağı sıksan şüheda.
Canı, cananı, bütün varımı alsın da Hüda,
Etmesin tek vatanımdan beni dünyada cüda.
Ruhumun senden İlahî, şudur ancak emeli:
Değmesin mabedimin göğsüne namahrem eli.
Bu ezanlar, ki şehadetleri dinin temeli,
Ebedî, yurdumun üstünde benim inlemeli.
O zaman vecdile bin secde eder, varsa taşım,
Her cerihamdan, İlahî, boşanıp kanlı yaşım,
Fışkırır ruhumücerret gibi yerden naaşım,
O zaman yükselerek arşa değer belki başım.
Dalgalan sen de şafaklar gibi ey şanlı hilal!
Olsun artık dökülen kanlarımın hepsi helal.
Ebediyen sana yok, ırkıma yok izmihlal.
Hakkıdır, hür yaşamış bayrağımın hürriyet;
Hakkıdır, Hakk’a tapan milletimin istiklal.
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