I "met" Susan Watson, a fellow American Kivanç fan, on the Kivanç Tatlitug North America FB FORUM. When she shared her essay with me comparing a poignant poem by Matthew Arnold with our beloved Kuzey, I knew you all would love it.
Please give her a warm welcome, and let her know in the comments how much you enjoyed her essay! (You all never lack words when it comes to Kuzey!)
*Warning: Essay contains spoilers!
I recently read a short poem by Matthew Arnold that reminded me of Kuzey, a character portrayed by actor Kivanc Tatlitug in the Turkish TV series Kuzey Guney.
Some critics have stated that Arnold was torn between a passionate nature and that of a rationalist, and that while he could feel and express passion for a woman (the mysterious Marguerite), he could not relinquish his self-control and integrity to claim her love. He was torn between his Byronic love and his Platonic love.*
Kuzey is something of a Byronic hero, a charismatic, attractive, intelligent but moody young man struggling to accommodate his personal values with his passionate nature.
He feels bound to a tradition that honors his brother’s betrothal to a woman he desperately loves but believes he can never have. Kuzey’s Imprisonment ~ First & Second Stanzas
In the first and second stanzas, the poet asks his beloved to come to him in his thoughts and dreams to cure him of his longing for her. He wants her to come as she has a thousand times before and bring him a message from a bright world where she smiles and shows kindness to others as she has shown kindness to him.
Languishing in prison, Kuzey holds Cemre in his heart and cherishes his every memory of her. But because Cemre belongs to his brother, Kuzey builds a wall around his heart and locks his love for her deep inside.
During Kuzey’s days and nights in prison when his existence is filled with loneliness and danger, he longs for the love he might have had with Cemre. Her savors her letters which provide a keyhole-view of life on the outside, and her words of concern for his well-being are like water to his parched soul.
Remembering Cemre’s smiles and their teasing nicknames, “Blondie” and “Ugly” help him face the harsh realities of his dark days. His heartache fuels his anger, toughens his soul to endure, and provides him with an iron will and determination to fight to survive.
Unfortunately, along with the good dreams come bitter reminders of an image cemented in his heart—the day he saw Cemre kissing Guney. The day that changed his life forever.
Kuzey’s Return ~ Third Stanza
In the third stanza, the poet says to his beloved. . .but since you never came to me in real life, come to me in my dreams, that will be my truth, my reality; come to me, caress my hair and kiss my brow, call me your love and ask me why I am suffering.
Kuzey’s only relief from the suffering of his prison life comes from Cemre’s letters and his dreams of what might have been. When Kuzey is released, he returns to the neighborhood, but he doesn’t feel “at home”—he feels lost. The first person he looks for is Ali, the friend he considers a “brother” because of his love and loyalty.
Without his ever having spoken of it, Kuzey’s love for Cemre is apparent to Ali. He senses Kuzey’s feelings; he sees it in Kuzey’s eyes and the expression on his face when Cemre is with them.
Cemre is surprised to learn that Kuzey is madly in love with her. When later Kuzey calms her from throwing a rock at a window in a jealous rage, Cemre suddenly sees a Kuzey she hasn’t recognised before. A Kuzey who is no longer a child playing silly tricks, but a man who won’t allow her to do something foolish that she would later regret.
Seeing this new, mature, and reasonable man she kisses him--passionately.
But Kuzey pulls away. Cemre is spoken for. She's forbidden.
This moment, the kiss, is real life, but it cannot be a real moment for Kuzey.
Although it rekindles his passion for her, he only allows her to remain in his dreams because she “belongs” to his brother. He is only allowed to long for her, and his feelings for her must be subjugated to his sense of honor and what is proper.
On the day of her audition, she asks Kuzey to accompany her for moral support. As she recites her lines, her gaze drifts to Kuzey and she realizes that the words she is speaking reflect her feelings for him. The words are like a balm to his wounded soul, and Kuzey glows with admiration.
Kuzey’s Searching & Awakening ~ Fourth stanza
In the final stanza, the poet echoes the first verses again saying that dreaming of his loved one will absolve the longing for her he experiences during the day. He wants desperately to be well again.
Kuzey also longs to be “well again,” not only from his nightmare of Ferhat and his disastrous marriage to Simay, but also from his hopeless love for Cemre. He begins a relationship with Zeynep, believing that she might be a woman he could love, perhaps even marry, but Cemre’s presence constantly interrupts them as does Ferhat’s torment.
And when Cemre, no longer able to stifle her love for Kuzey, confesses that she loves him, Kuzey remains committed to his sense of honor. He fortifies the walls around his heart, only allowing their love to flourish in his dreams.
Undeterred by Kuzey's repeated rejection, Cemre holds fast. When Ali dies, Cemre stands by Kuzey and tries to buffer his pain. When Simay’s treachery endangers Kuzey, Cemre stands by him. In Kuzey's final confrontation with Ferhat, Cemre is willing to die for Kuzey. When Baris threatens to imprison Kuzey, Cemre stays in the marriage to protect him. When Kuzey tries to leave Istanbul, Cemre rushes to the airport to flee with him.
Like the poet Matthew Arnold who never pursued his love for Marguerite, Kuzey’s integrity and self-control prevent him from following his heart.
But Cemre's unwavering love is like a thousand blows, and the walls around Kuzey's cemented heart begin cracking.
Kuzey finally confesses his love for her, but only when he was sure he was about to die.
Her surprise visit to Samsun deals the fatal blow to the fortress surrounding his heart. Being with her and holding her validates his being, and Kuzey finally opens his heart.
"That one day, just that one day was the best gift I ever received in my life. ... A missing part of my life is complete because of you. ... My dreams can only come true with you."
She replies, "After today I will never leave you."
Unlike the poet, Kuzey's days of longing for a love he believed he could never possess ended. Kuzey's dreams are truth; he is well again.
Cemre is his.
*Citation: “Matthew Arnold" www.poetryfoundation.org
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