Winter: Warrior of Wine

Ten Poems for Ezra Pound[1]

(from Ezra & Gary: Poems for Ezra Pound and Gary Cooper)

Ülkü Tamer

Translated by Efe Murad




This is the station of my night,

where sweepers come in the fall

and do things unaware of others...


Having shut the moss door and

drawn into the night, fondness 

for fires, barrels, 

it is the cupbearers getting wind of winter

who don’t know what is 



From which weary foams 

did the night’s silence remain...


The station of my night and the inn 

where the butlers step out to have snowball fights,

outstretching from the inn to X’temmas.



who hears of me when it snows, the Ezra whom I’ve heard.




Has ankles smeared in tar.

On the deserted roads of innkeepers,

Arnaut, unacquainted with poetry, 

has sent this old codger, Daniel,[2] 

with ankles smeared in tar.


At night, glows his name on trees

from Italy up to his beard;

as it gets dark,

crushing a cup by the gallows at night,

three people swill,

there exists, tar. 


You had a river

with a name that haunts.




A poet charms his voice with royal sorrow.[3]

In pools forlornness is

a voice of fish

that no longer sails in ships.

Poetry is

his noble noontide,

the voice of fireplace that smiles.


Having pulled towards the port,

he begins to chisel

cups out of wood

and servants who’d never seen the sea,

o servants, drowned when overboard.


'Cause his poetry

borders autumn shores,

resembling the bells

of a church heard from boats.




The multitude of birds appalls.


Oars made out of snow in their hands

they’ve rushed towards the sea,

and only the village idiot gave a look,

using his fishnet for a wide map,

the idiot who finds his lips in an old mount.


Gravely mixed his blood with wine

so that they 

would recite poetry in the inn

once back with fish which cost them months.


The adventure of rain is over. Those 

who have ridden horses to the bridge

never turn out.


Birds see the night

when their eyes’re shut.




A caïque, not visible from the end

of another, and there chanting



At the hour of the year, the night.

Saddling his horse gravely

going for the forest by the palace

the king sees the temple that we’ve 

burnt down, but a caïque, not visible 

from the end of another.


We’ve spent that highnoon in Dalmatia.

Carrying aged letters that are exiled[4]

with boats,

they’ve given us wine and fresh food. 


Those who felt drowsy in Ten-Shin[5]

used to fall asleep on our side.




It is time to shiver ever after.

Know this well, the peoples

of Mantua,[6] tending the crows

cuz crows carry that

sword, stuck in the shield

made out of a never-ending 

poem, they bear

that sword.


Zan Lottieri,[7] having examined the steps,

realized that it’s now the time to

shiver, it has been a year

since the winter has begun.


I’ll head for the wall one day

to see the garden full of invincible

flowers, to see the watchmen 

in the tower who talk about 



Only then maybe we’ll

pull a cork, and come to 

the realization that the time

to shiver has come.




Marienne Ydole,[8] winter has come,

tell her,

our hearts desire the warmth

when winter comes, she must

go to the city and Hell



Marienne Marienne all

should convene, let’s read your poetry

and check your beard, because


has come.


A great wide sea that

vessels can’t put an end to;

it snows in France,

nor can caïques put an end.


Ydole Marienne Ydole,

she cast an eye on him,

how were her eyes? 


Now winter.

On doorsteps.

Seas cannot put an end

to him, his voice

how was it? Jacques d’Allmain[9]




Ahead a panther[10] moves to Ventadour.[11]

Having passed the waters

they’ll go up to the mountains.

From there, towards where the month of

February is, to Ventadour

they will navigate. 


Musicians can’t pass the ditch

when there are no drawbridges 

rolled up, a king, as young

as a child, listens to the musicians

thinking of Margot.[12]

Going for a hunt in the morning.


When the drawbridges aren’t rolled up

upon entering the castle 

Margot will look 

at the stones and

bring down the heavy sword 

from the wall.


Ahead a panther moves

to make use of Margot’s blood.




Jesters have carried coals 

first and then served

the king’s tall drink. 


Seeing the fires, there’ll be 

no rainfall, said Thiess,

it’d have been great if

halberdiers would have thrown

their halberds, he said, where

have they been?


O, now the night

making towards winter

he said, where has 

this old codger been?


Among the jesters

there was that old codger, who, having donned

his cap, impressed his seal on the king’s table 

with inconsolable ink, and inscribed 

the name of Thiess.[13]


Yes, no end of years.

Night moves towards 

the stagnant lock of the bridge.




They’ve gone with the long shelves 

of wine, and set sail

changing course, they’ve

left to look for the rice spring.


Zagreus[14] would have veiled himself

if he were to see it.


Veering towards the sea 

of silence, they’ve gone

to the plant of exuberance.


Poets would only know 

the voice of the alder tree.

A certain poet, only. 


A note on the text:

Ülkü Tamer’s cycle of poems, “Winter: Warrior of Wine,” is an homage to Ezra Pound’s magnum opus The Cantos written in the form of a “drinking-song”[15]—especially imitating the styles of the late medieval Provençal and Occitan troubadour poets, as well as the French poète maudit François Villon (1431-63).[16] Spanning a vast geography in Europe from Normandy to Catalonia and Northern Italy, Tamer’s cycle suggests an alternative ending to The Cantos, often juxtaposing with the repeated themes of metamorphosis, rebirth, ecstasy, spring rites, fertility, and the joy of life that appear in the early cantos.

Pound took an initial interest in the study of Provençal poetry as an undergraduate at Hamilton College when he took Dr. William Pierce Shepherd’s course in the autumn of 1904. For him translating medieval poetry was like gaining a new identity in English, i.e. creating “masks of the self” in his native language.[17] 

Pound sees Provence as the cradle of the Western vernacular lyrical tradition, and sets the troubadour landscape as his imagined “Earthly Paradise.”[18] Ülkü Tamer, in contrast, reverses the mood and confines his lyrics to a darker tone. The melancholy of the alba in the troubadour tradition, i.e. the genre of Occitan lyrics depicting the parting of lovers, is now extended to the parting summer and sun. In Tamer’s version, troubadours have already sung their worldly songs, cherishing the spring, and now winter is about to come. “Winter: Warrior of Wine” has an apocalyptic mood that implies that winter could be permanent this time and the spring might never come back. Pound’s Cantos begins with an ambitious journey in search of Paradise, in a world where there is so much room for hope, new beginnings, and repentance. Yet in Tamer’s poems, the end of the feast signifies the end of days. Poets, kings, and palace ladies now prepare themselves to the endless winter by drinking to oblivion.

Efe Murad (Wellesley College)


Ülkü Tamer (1937-2018)

Poet, actor, and translator Ülkü Tamer was one of the leading modernist poets of Turkey, as well as a member of a generation of poets during the 1950s, who would be later known as the İkinci Yeni (The Second New). He was born in the city of Gaziantep in Southwest Turkey. Educated at the American Robert College of Istanbul, he went on to study at Istanbul University’s Institute of Journalism. Since 1954 his poems were published in the prevalent literary journals of the period, such as Pazar Postası, Yeditepe, Yeni Dergi, Papirüs, and Sanat Olayı. He published seven books of poetry, which were collected under the title Yanardağın Üstündeki Kuş (The Bird Above the Volcano) in 1986, and was awarded the prestigious Yeditepe Poetry Prize with his book İçime Çektiğim Hava Değil Gökyüzüdür (What I Inhale Is Not Air but the Sky) in 1966. For a while he worked as an actor, and then became the editor-in-chief of the literary monthly “Arts on the Move” published by the daily newspaper Milliyet. He later published a book of short stories, which received the Yunus Nadi Award in 1981, poetry anthologies, as well as a celebrated memoir. Tamer was a skillful translator who translated over 70 books into Turkish along with tens of poems from English and Spanish. He received The Turkish Language Association’s 1965 Translation Award with his translation of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes, and also prepared the Turkish edition of Ezra Pound’s Cathay in 1987. For the young generations, Tamer is often remembered as the Turkish translator of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2001. According Turkish poet and short story writer Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar, “at his best, he has given memorable examples of both the purely lyrical and socially committed poetry” (see Fergar’s Modern Turkish Poetry (Hertfordshire: The Rockingham Press, 1992), p. 23).

Efe Murad

Born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey, Efe Murad studied philosophy at Princeton University and completed his doctoral studies in Ottoman History and Islamic Philosophy at Harvard University. He has published six volumes of poetry and six books of poetry translations in Turkey, including the first complete translation of Ezra Pound’s Cantos in Turkish, as well as volumes by American poets Susan Howe, Lyn Hejinian, and C.K. Williams. His poems, writings, and translations in English have appeared in a wide range of journals, including Guernica, Five Points, Jacket, Two Lines, The Critical Flame, and The American Reader, and in exhibitions including the 13th Istanbul Biennale. A recipient of “Meral Divitçi Prize for Turkish Poetry in Translation” together with Sidney Wade, he prepared a selection from the œuvre of Turkish modernist poet Melih Cevdet Anday under the title Silent Stones (Talisman Press, 2017). He teaches religion and history at Wellesley College, and his new work combines paleography, found footage, and soundscapes.


[1] I want to thank Archie Henderson for his invaluable comments and editing suggestions. The cycle of poems is originally published in Ülkü Tamer, Ezra ve Gary İçin Şiirler (Istanbul: İstanbul Matbaası, 1962): pp. 9-20.

[2] Arnaut Daniel, an Occitan troubadour poet of the twelfth century, who was praised by the Italian poets Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) and Francesco Petrarca (1304-74). Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot made various intertextual references to the poet in their poetic works.

[3] The line here that reads “Bir şair sesini satranca çeker” is ambiguous since satranç in Turkish denotes “the game of chess,” and satranca çekmek is an expression that does not make sense unless Ülkü Tamer means şah çekmek, i.e. to check in chess. Steingass’ Persian dictionary associates the Persian shaṭranj with the possible shāh-ranj, which means “the royal care or sorrow.” I played with this connotation in the translation.

[4] This reference may suggest Pound’s “Exile’s Letter,” a translation from Li Po with a melancholic tone, suggesting the parting of friends and soldiers (Edmund White, “Ezra Pound’s “Exile’s Letter,”” Paris Review (February 2, 2012).

[5] Also mentioned in Pound’s “Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin,” an onomatopoeic droning in “Lament of the Frontier Guard” that arouses a sense of lament and pathos in line with Tamer’s intention (James Wilson, “His Own Skiffsman: Pound, China, & Cathay Revis(it)ed,” Paideuma 29.3 (2000), 26-7).

[6] Mantova, a city in Lombardy, where the thirteenth-century troubadour poet Sordello da Goito was born. As for other contexts of Mantua in The Cantos: When Piccolomini became Pope Pius II in 1458, he immediately called an international congress in the city of Mantua to fight against the Ottoman threat to Europe. All the delegates agreed that the countries nearest the Turks should do the fighting, while the Italians should supply funds. It was only Sigismundo Malatesta, Lord of Rimini and Fano, went against this decision (Carroll F. Terrell, A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1984), vol. I, p. 51). Mantua was originally Virgil’s native city, and according to a passage by Virgil, the River Adige by Mantua provided an appropriate bank, underlying Pound’s conviction that mythology, topography, and economics mesh (Terrell, vol. II, p. 562). One of the leading women of the Italian Renaissance Isabella d’Este (1474-1539), also the wife of patron lord Francesco Gonzaga, was a Marchioness of Mantua, and Pound references her patronage of the arts and fashion on many occasions in his Cantos: d’Este was also known for the motto inscribed in her ducal palace Nec Spe Nec Metu (i.e. “neither by hope nor by fear”).

[7] Zanobi Lottieri is the Florentine ambassador to Naples, who corresponded to the famous Florentine banker Filippo Strozzi (1426-91). Strozzi’s family was driven into exile in 1434 to Naples and Filippo became an established banker there (see Pound’s Canto X, and also Terrell, vol. 1, p. 50).

[8] In Old French ydole means idol. Marienne Ydole probably refers to a statue of Virgin Mary

[9] One of the companions of the accursed French poet François Villon, who also appears in Ezra Pound’s second Villon poem called “A Villonaud. Ballad of the Gibbet.” Pound speaks in the same spirit of grim realism and irreligion that he associated with Villon himself, who, for him, also speaks in the “voice of suffering, of mockery, of irrevocable fact (see George J. Bornstein and Hugh H. Witemeyer, “From Villain to Visionary: Pound and Yeats on Villon,” Comparative Literature 19.4 (1967), p. 313). For Pound, Villon is a poet of “sincere self-expression,” since Villon as thief, murderer, pander and bully to a whore, “speaks of his emotions without fear or moral ambition” (Ibid., pp. 312 and 314). Pound writes that Villon’s sincere expression and realism helped him to cast off complete masks of the self in each poem published in Personae (Ibid., p. 312).

[10] The panther mentioned here might be a reference to Rilke’s “The Panther” or Pound’s lynx in Canto LXXIX. Lynx is sacred to the wine-god Dionysus and traditional emblem of keen-sightedness (Richard Sieburth’s editorial note on Canto LXXIX in Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos (New York: New Directions, 2003). According to Terrell, Pound associated lynx with the god of sex and wine, and the feline animal might be a reference to his wife Dorothy Shakespeare or later lover Olga Rudge (Terrell, vol. 2, p. 426).

[11] Ventadour is a commune in the Corrèze department (Corresa in Occitan) in Southwest France, particularly known for its late medieval castle called the Château de Ventadour. Also there could be an allusion to Bernart de Ventadour, whom Pound translated.

[12] The reference here might be Margot Asquith (1864-1945), witty widow and second wife of Herbert Henry A., 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, British statesman; prime minister between the years 1908 and 1916). Pound was fond of Margot, who supported his literary efforts, and she was known to have ordered copies of Blast in advance, and her portrait sketched by Gaudier-Brzeska. She was an enfant terrible of the late-Victorian high society. (Terrell, vol. I, p. 156; vol. II, p. 429). Margot here represents the women patrons of the arts going back to the late medieval France and the early Italian Renaissance.

[13] The name Thiess is part of the ancient legacy of the early Norman inhabitants who arrived in English after the Norman invasion of 1066. The word is derived from the Old French word tison, which means “fire-brand.”

[14] Another name for Bacchus, Dionysus, Iacchus or Lyaeus, who is originally a Cretan and known to be the god of wine, fertility, and ecstasy whose cult arose to challenge that of Apollo. Pound refers to Zagreus as the god of Orgia (religious ecstasy) and fertility associated with the Eleusinian Mysteries, arcanum, and the rites of spring The story of his birth includes that Zeus appeared to the pregnant Semele as a flash lightning (Terrell, vol. I, pp. 6, 21, and 73).

[15] See the section called “The Chorus of Drinkers” in Pound’s opera Le Testament de Villon (1923) for a possible reference of intertextuality in Tamer. The section is a drinking-song written as a tribute to the fifteenth-century French vagabond poet Villon.

[16] As for possible Turkish sources of Ülkü Tamer’s rendering, see translator and writer Sabri Esat Siyavuşgil (1907-68)’s famed translation of François Villon’s “Ballade des dames du temps jadis” under the title “Evvel Zaman Kadınları Balladı,” as well as the noteworthy article on the troubadour conception of courtly love (under the influence of Arab bards in the early medieval period) by the scholar Süheyla Baylav Artemel (1914-2018) of Istanbul University, who was one of the pioneers of the study of medieval French lyrics in Turkey (See her publication “‘Courtois’ Aşk Anlayışında Arap Etkisi,” Şarkiyat Mecmuası VI (1966): 47-60; and her later anthology Ortaçağ Fransız Edebiyatı (Istanbul: Multilingual, 2001)). In an essay on literary translation, poet İlhan Berk names Siyavuşgil’s translation as one of the most successful renderings into Turkish, praising the translator’s ability to create a unique voice for Villon in Turkish, which was significantly different from the voice that he crafted for his previous Paul Valéry translations (see İlhan Berk, “Çeviride Şiir Dili,” in Türk Dili: Çeviri Sorunları Özel Sayısı 322 (1978), p. 73). Siyavuşgil’s translation technique fits with Pound’s lyrical vision in this context.

[17] Stuart Y. McDougal, Pound and the Troubadour Tradition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1972), pp. 3-6.

[18] Ibid., p. 151.