Song of the Istanbul Hamsi Fishermen

Oh I am a fisherman
and I fish in Emirgan
and I haul the mighty hamsi from the deep
I fish there come what may
and they seldom get away
and the ones I bring ashore I always keep.

Peep in my yoghurt pot
and you’ll see I’ve caught a lot
although, with cig in mouth, I try to look blasé
I never show delight
even when my line is tight
as if ‘eight at once’ just happened every day.

Oh the hamsi he is strong
several centimetres long
and he wriggles like a devil to be free
but he knows he’s had his lot
when I slip him in my pot
for he has a dinner-date at home with me.

So it’s home at evening’s chill
to Reshitpasha up the hill
with my hamsi pot a-bobbing on my knee
I’m not a layabout
and the bus is crowded out
so why does no-one come and sit near me?

– Hugh Mitchell
(Translator’s note: ‘Hamsi’ is the Turkish word for ‘anchovy’.)