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Yahya Kemal Beyatlı has been a principal figure of Turkish public both with his propositions regarding the cultural sphere and with his poems. His poetical self that he revealed during a period when his calls for social transformation became a source for continuous activism is not bereft of tensions. This article is an attempt to reinterpret one of Yahya Kemal’s most repeated themes, the past, in the light of Jacques Lacan’s conceptualization of lack. The mode of presentation belonging to the historical ethos that became the source of the ethical and pathetic anxiety in Yahya Kemal has to tackle with an attempt for compensation. His poems have the romantic motivation of enchanting the disenchanted world. It is not surprising to encounter the manifestations of this motivation in his poems, which nourish social imagination and also progress from a more individual point of departure. These manifestations, however, do not always present a unidirectional appearance; they harbor both arrogance and withdrawal. The main quest of this article is to identify this dual movement and thereby problematize the dominant position of Yahya Kemal in Turkish poetry.

Yahya Kemal Beyatlı, Jacques Lacan, past, lack.

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