Writing with a somewhat condescending tone in 1917, Charles F. Horne wrote: “Turkish literature is of a less advanced character than that of most of the Semitic literatures from which it is sprung. An epigrammatic summary of the Turkish character has said that every fourth word of Turkish is Arabic, every third idea Persian, and every second impulse Muhammadan. This, while not seeming to leave much of the original Turk, is perhaps not an unfair estimate of the extent of the Turks' indebtedness to the earlier races and religion upon which their civilization is built. The Ottoman Turks, that is, the Turks who founded the present Turkish Empire, were a Tartar or Turanian tribe from Central Asia who adopted the Muhammadan faith and began their conquest of the Muhammadan world about the year 1300. They then possessed legends or childish tales of their own which still survive; and these are still told among the mass of the people with simple faith. One or two of these are given here, to show the natural human character of the race. The Turks next turned, in literature, to poetry. Persian Muhammadan poetry was then at its best; and the Turks imitated, but scarcely improved upon, its forms. So great, indeed, became the Turkish admiration for poetry that almost every Turkish Sultan, from the year fourteen hundred down to the present, has written poetry. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271]
Paul Halsall wrote of Fordham University: “Horne's early 20th century translations are useful to have online, but note that his introductions are resolutely "orientalist" in tone, even when they are not downright insulting.” But “In the texts below much comes through.”
Queen of Night: An Old Turkish Tale
“Once upon a time there was an old man who had three daughters. All of them were beautiful, but the youngest, whose name was Rosa, was not only more lovely, but also more amiable and more intelligent than the others. Jealous and envious exceedingly were the two sisters when they found that the fame of Rosa's beauty was greater than the fame of theirs. They, however, refused to believe that Rosa was really more lovely than they were, and they resolved to ask the Sun's opinion on the subject. So, one day at dawn, the sisters stood at their open window and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanders all over the world, say who is the most beautiful among our father's daughters?" The Sun replied, "I am beautiful, and you are both beautiful; but your youngest sister is the most beautiful of all." [Source: From the Sacred Books of the East series, Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
“When the two girls heard this, they were beside themselves with anger and spite, and determined to get rid of the sister who so outshone them. Saying nothing to her of what the Sun had told them, they on the following day invited Rosa to accompany them to the wood to gather a salad of wild herbs for their father's dinner. The unsuspecting Rosa at once complied, took her basket, and set out with her sisters, who led her to a spot she had never before visited, a long way from her father's house, and surrounded on all sides by forest. When they were arrived, the eldest sister said, "Do thou, Rosa, gather all the herbs that are here; we will go a little farther on, and when we have filled our baskets we will return."
“The wicked girls, however, went straight home, abandoning Rosa to her fate. When some hours had passed, and she found that they did not return, she feared that she might, while seeking for the herbs, have wandered from the spot where her sisters had left her. Too innocent to suspect them of the wicked treachery of which they had been guilty, she only blamed herself for her carelessness, and wept bitterly at the thought of remaining all night alone in the wild and lonely wood.
“After a time the sun set, the twilight came and passed, and darkness fell. The birds ceased their songs, and the silence of the forest was broken only by the flutter of a bat or great gray moth, the melancholy hoot of an owl, and the faint little rustle made by the other flying and creeping things that come forth with the stars. Seated on a great tree-trunk, Rosa wept more and more bitterly as the darkness deepened, and no one came to her aid. Hours passed, the air grew chilly; and faint with hunger and cold, she was about to lay herself down to die, when suddenly a brilliant light, like the sparkling of many stars, shot through the wood and advanced toward the spot where she sat. It was the Queen of Night, who, attended by all her court, was returning to her palace after her usual journey, for it was now near dawn. Rosa, dazzled and frightened, covered her face with her hands, and wept more bitterly than ever. Attracted by the sound of her sobbing, the Radiant Lady approached the weeping girl, and in a kind and gentle voice asked how she came to be there. Rosa looked up, and, reassured by the benign countenance of the Queen of Night, told her story.
“"Come then and live with me, dear girl; I will be your mother, and you shall be my daughter," said the Queen, who knew perfectly well how it had all happened. Gladly the poor girl accompanied the Queen to her palace, and being, as we know, as amiable and intelligent as she was beautiful, her protectress soon became very fond of her, and did everything in her power to make her adopted daughter happy. She gave Rosa the keys of all her treasures, made her the mistress of her palace, and let her do whatever she pleased.
“But let us now leave this lucky girl with the Queen of Night for a little while, and return to her sisters. Though they fully believed she must either have perished of hunger or been devoured by wild beasts, they after a time, to make quite certain, went again to their window and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanders all over the world, tell us who is the most beautiful of our father's daughters?"
“The Sun replied as before, "I am beautiful, and you are both beautiful; but your youngest sister is the most beautiful of all." "But Rosa has long been dead!" "No," replied the Sun, "Rosa still lives, and she is in the palace of the Queen of Night."
“When the sisters heard this, their rage and spite knew no bounds. Long they consulted together as to the best means of bringing about her death; and finally these wicked girls decided to obtain from a witch of their acquaintance an enchanted kerchief which would make the person wearing it appear to be dead. Well, they set out, and presently arrived at the palace at an hour when they knew that the Queen of Night would be absent and they might find their sister alone. Rosa was delighted to see them, for though they had often been unkind to her, she loved her sisters very dearly, and welcoming them warmly, she offered them everything she had, and pressed them to remain. They, on their part, pretended to be overjoyed at finding again the sister they had mourned as lost, and congratulated her on her good fortune. When they had eaten and drunk of the good things she set before them, and were about to take their departure, the eldest sister produced from her basket the enchanted kerchief.
“"Here, dear Rosa," said she, "is a little present which we should like you to wear for our sakes. Let me pin it round your shoulders. Good-bye, dear!" she added, kissing her affectionately on both cheeks, "we will come and see you again before long and bring our father with us." "Do, dear sisters, and tell my dear father that I will go to see him as soon as my kind protectress may give me leave."
“Rosa watched her sisters from the window till they were out of sight, and then turned to the embroidery-frame which she had laid aside on their arrival. She had not, however, made many stitches, before a feeling of faintness came over her; and letting her work slip from her hands, she fell back on the sofa and lost consciousness. When the Queen of Night came home, she went first, as was her wont, to the chamber of her dear adopted daughter, and finding her thus, she said, as she bent over the maiden and kissed her beautiful mouth, "She has tired herself, poor child, over that embroidery-frame; she is so industrious."
“But the beautiful lips were cold and white, and the maiden neither breathed nor stirred. Distracted with grief, the Queen of Night began to unfasten Rosa's dress in order to ascertain whether her death had been caused by the bite of some poisonous reptile, and while doing so, she observed that the kerchief on her shoulders was not one that her daughter was in the habit of wearing. When she had unpinned and taken it off, Rosa heaved a deep sigh, opened her eyes, and seeing the Queen bending over her, smiled and stretched out her arms to her dear mother, saying, "I must have slept a long time! Oh, I remember!" she added, "I was feeling faint and giddy and lay down, and, I suppose, fell asleep immediately, for I don't recollect anything else."
“"But where did you get this?" asked the Queen, picking up the kerchief from the floor. "I don't remember having given it to you." "Oh, I have not told you that I had a great pleasure yesterday. My sisters, who had thought me forever lost, found out where I was and came to see me, bringing this kerchief as a present. Is it not pretty?" These words told the Queen of Night the secret of the whole matter; but, not wishing to distress her daughter by acquainting her with her sisters' cruel perfidy, she only replied, "Yes, very pretty. Will you give it to me, Rosa? I should like to have it for myself."
“Rosa was naturally only too pleased to be able to give her kind protectress something in return for all her favors; and she also promised her, though not without tears, never again to receive any visitors, not even her sisters, when she was left by herself in the palace. These wicked creatures in a little while again stood at their window and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanders the world over, say, is there now any one more beautiful than we are?" But the Sun only replied as before, "I am beautiful; you, too, are beautiful; but Rosa is the most beautiful of all!"
“The sisters looked at each other in dismay. "The kerchief has then failed," said the elder to the younger. "We must try some other method of getting rid of her." So the wretches went to the same old witch who had given them the magic kerchief, and got from her an enchanted sugarplum. When at nightfall they again knocked at the door of the palace, the porter informed them that his mistress was absent, and had given orders that the palace-gates were not to be opened until her return. They, however, saw Rosa at her window, and pretending to be greatly distressed at their exclusion, asked her at least to accept from them the delicious sugar-plum which they had brought for her.
“"Let down a basket," said the eldest; "I will put the sugarplum inside, and you can draw it up." Rosa did so, and drew up the sweetmeat. "Taste it at once," cried the second sister, "and if you like it, we will bring you more of the same kind." The poor girl, suspecting no evil, put the sugar-plum into her mouth; but scarcely had she tasted it, than she fell back as if dead; and her sisters, seeing this, hurried away home.
“When the Queen returned and again found her favorite lifeless, she was both grieved and angry. All her servants, however, when questioned, assured her that no one had entered the palace during her absence, and that Rosa's sisters had only been allowed to speak to her from a distance as she stood at her high window. In the hope of bringing her to life again, as on the previous occasion, the Queen of Night searched every fold of the maiden's dress, but in vain; she could not discover the fatal charm. "Perhaps," said she to herself, as she sat and gazed on the lifeless features of her adopted daughter, "what I can not discover, chance may, and I could never bring myself to bury her, dead though she seems to be." So the grieving Queen sent for a cunning workman, who made at her orders a coffer of silver; and after dressing Rosa in her most beautiful clothes and jewels, she laid her in it, closed the lid, fastened the coffer on the back of a splendid horse, and let him loose to wander at will.
“The horse, following his fancy, carried his fair burden in a few hours' time into a neighboring country, the ruler of which was the handsomest man of his time; and this King, being that day out hunting with his court, happened to catch sight of the horse. Attracted by its beauty and fleetness, and by the strange shining burden it bore on its saddle, he approached, and seeing the animal to be masterless, he bade his people seize and lead it to the palace. The silver coffer the King caused to be carried into his bed-chamber, and there he opened it. Imagine, if you can, his surprise on seeing within the form of a beautiful maiden. Though apparently lifeless, she was more lovely than any living woman he had ever beheld, and his heart became filled with such ardent love for her that he would sit for hours together gazing upon her beautiful features, neglecting duties and pleasures alike; and when his ministers came and prayed him to accompany them to the council chamber, he only said, "Go, I pray you, and do justice in my name."
“Days passed, his gentlemen tried to tempt him out hunting, but again he only replied, "Do you go without me." The royal cooks vied with one another in preparing the most delicious dishes for his table; but these he hardly tasted, nor did he even appear to notice what he was eating. When this state of things had continued for some days the ministers became alarmed, and sent a messenger to inform the Queen mother, who was away at her country palace. She came with all speed, and was much distressed to find her son so dispirited and melancholy. To all her anxious inquiries, however, he only replied that he was quite well, but preferred to remain alone in his bed-chamber. The Queen had, of course, already heard from the courtiers the story of the riderless horse and the silver chest; and she rightly guessed that her son had been bewitched by what he had found in it, and determined to discover what this might be.
“So the very next day, while the King was at dinner with his vizier, his mother went to his chamber--for she had a master-key that would open all the doors in the palace—and there, extended on the divan, she saw the silver chest. Going hastily up to it, she raised the lid which the King had closed before leaving At first she could only gaze in astonishment at the wonderful beauty of the maiden lying within; but her admiration presently changed to anger when she thought of her son; and seizing poor Rosa by her long hair, she dragged her out of the coffer and shook her violently, saying, "You wicked dead thing! Why are you not decently buried instead of wandering about casting spells on Princes?" But as the Queen shook her the enchanted sugar-plum was jerked out of Rosa's mouth, and she immediately came to life again, and gazed around her in bewilderment. And as she opened her large, lovely eyes, the Queen's anger passed away, and she embraced and kissed Rosa tenderly, weeping with delight the while. The poor girl was so astonished by the strangeness of everything around her, that it was some minutes before she could ask: "Where am I, noble lady, and where is my dear mother?"
“"I know not, my child, but I will be your mother. For you shall marry my son, the King, who is dying for love of you." As she spoke, footsteps were heard at the door, and the King entered. Imagine, if you can, his amazement and joy at finding, seated on the divan by his mother's side, the maiden he loved so dearly, restored to life, and twenty times lovelier than before. Not to make too long a story of it, the King took her by the hand, and asked her to be his wife. And when Rosa heard of his love for her, and saw how handsome and noble he was, she could not but love him in return. So they were married with great splendor, and there were feasts for the poor, and fountains running honey and wine, and rejoicing for everybody.
“Well, the King and Rosa lived very happily together for some time; but her troubles were not over, for her wicked sisters had not yet done their worst to her. They had for long feared to go near the palace again, and nearly a year passed before they learned what had been the result of their last visit. One day, however, in order to make quite sure that Rosa was dead, they once more stood at their window, and cried, "Sun, shining Sun, who wanders all over the earth, tell us if thou hast, since our youngest sister died, seen any maiden fairer than we?" But the Sun only replied as before, "I am beautiful; you, too, are both beautiful; but your youngest sister is the fairest of all." "But Rosa is dead!" "No, Rosa lives, and she is the wife of the King of the neighboring country."
“Well, if these wicked women could not bear that their sister should be considered fairer than they, still less could they allow her to be a Queen. So, disguised as two old women, they set off at once for Rosa's palace. When they arrived in the royal city, great rejoicing were going on because a baby prince had just been born. "That is good news," said the elder to the younger when she heard this, "for now we will be the nurses." So they went to the Queen-Mother and gave themselves out to be wonderfully clever nurses from the neighboring country who had nursed the princes there; and the Queen-Mother, deceived by their story, put them in charge of her daughter-in-law and the baby. On the pretext of keeping the young Queen and her child free from evil spells, the make-believe nurses sent away all the other attendants from her apartments; and when they were left alone with their sister, they stuck into her head an enchanted pin.
“She was immediately changed into a bird, and flew away out of the window; and her eldest sister laid herself down on her bed in her place. When the King came in to see his wife, he could hardly believe his eyes. This could not be his wife. The false Queen, guessing his thoughts, said, "You find me changed, dear husband? It is because I have been so ill." The King, however, pretended not to have observed anything, but his heart froze within him as he looked on the object of this pretended transformation. It was his custom to breakfast alone every day in the garden; and one day while he was sadly musing there, a pretty bird flew down, perched on a branch overhead, and said, "Tell me, my lord, have the King, and the Queen-Mother, and the little Prince slept well?" The King smiled and nodded, and the bird continued, "May they ever sleep sweetly. But may she whom they call the young Queen sleep the sleep that knows no waking, and may all things over which I fly wither away!"
“This said, the bird spread its wings, and wherever it passed, the grass and flowers withered, and the place became a desert. The gardeners, in despair, asked the King if they might not kill the bird which caused the mischief; but he forbade them, on pain of death, to do it any injury. Afterward the bird came every day while he was at breakfast in the garden; and the kind voice of the Prince soon made it so tame and fearless that it would perch on his knee and eat from his hand. This familiarity enabled the Prince to observe the bird's plumage more closely, and one day he caught sight of the pin in its head. Surprised at this, he ventured to withdraw it, when the bird disappeared, and his own dear wife stood again by his side. When he had recovered a little from the joy and surprise caused by this strange event, and had welcomed his wife back, he asked her to tell how it had all happened. And Rosa, whose eyes were now fully opened to the malice and wickedness of her sisters, told him all she knew of her own adventures.
“When the Prince had learned the evil deeds of his sisters-in-law, he bade his guards bring these wretches before him, and condemned them both to a death suitable to their crimes. In vain did Rosa entreat him to pardon them. The King was inexorable. But when, at sunset, the criminals were being led away to execution, the Queen of Night appeared on the scene, followed by all her train; and touched by the distress of her adopted daughter, she prevailed upon the king to change the sentence he had pronounced. The two evil-doers were then offered the choice of dying a violent death, or living to witness their sister's happiness while deprived of the power of ever again being able to injure her. They chose the latter fate; and it was not long before they both died of spite and jealousy.
Charles F. Horne wrote in 1917: “Turkish poetry has chiefly followed the Arabic fashion of expending itself upon language rather than upon thought. We are told that when the first Turkish epic poet Ahmedi presented to Sultan Bajazet's son his long epic history of Alexander the Great, the prince rebuked the poet's years of labor, saying that one tiny, perfectly polished poem would have been worth more than all the epics. Hence it is chiefly to the polishing of tiny poems that the poetic genius of the Turks has been applied. They have a favorite form called the "gazel," which might be likened to our English sonnet, except that the gazel is by far more intricate. It is, in fact, compared by the Turks to a flower with its petals constantly overlapping, forming a circle, and ending at the point where they began. In rhyme, for instance, the gazel opens with a rhyming couplet, and then through the whole poem the second line of each couplet repeats this opening rhyme. [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
“Their first poet Ashiq, who died in 1332 and whose very name is forgotten, since ashiq means merely "the lover." In other words, Turkish poetry begins with the passion of an unknown lover, not apparently for woman, but for life and God. The collected poems of Ashiq are called a "divan," the usual Persian and Turkish word for such collections; but very little of the divan of Ashiq has survived. Among Turkish epic poets, the earliest is Ahmedi (died 1412), who wrote the Book of Alexander the Great. The first romantic song is that of Sheykhi (1426) on the loves of the maiden Shireen. The first religious epic is that of Yaziji-Oglu (1449), called the Book of Muhammad. These, then, were the early singers. Of poets accounted of the highest rank, the earliest was Nejati (1508). Lamii was the scholar poet, a dervish or monk who delved into the older Persian literature and drew his themes perhaps from ancient Zoroastrian tales. He is usually named as the second greatest of Turkish poets. Gazali, Buzuli, and Nabi were also noted singers of the sixteenth century, which was the great age of the Turkish Empire, both in literature and in military glory.
“Of the two poetesses on our list, Mihri has been called the Turkish Sappho. Yet as the life of a Turkish woman of rank is carefully secluded, no scandal ever attached to her personal life. Her poems are mere dreams of fancy. Zeyneb was equally honored, a lady of high rank and a student of the Persian and Arabic poets.
“All other singers, however, are accounted by the Turks inferior to the great lyric poet Baqi (1526-1600). Baqi was at first a saddler, but he studied law and rose to the highest legal position of the empire. Poetry was the avocation of the great lawyer's leisure, and it won him the admiring friendship of the four successive Sultans who reigned during his life. The very name Baqi means “that which lasts," or “the enduring," so it has been frequently punned upon. The poet himself used a seal with a Persian couplet, "Fleeting is the world, and without faith God alone endures (or, Baqi alone is god); all else is fleeting."
Early Turkish Poems
The Divan of the Lover:
All the universe, one mighty sign, is shown;
God hath myriads of creative acts unknown:
None hath seen them, of the races jinn and men,
None hath news brought from that realm far off from ken.
Never shall thy mind or reason reach that strand,
Nor can tongue the King's name utter of that land.
Since 'tis his each nothingness with life to vest,
Trouble is there ne'er at all to his behest.
Eighteen thousand worlds, from end to end,
Do not with him one atom's worth transcend. —The Oldest Turkish Poem [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
Book of Alexander the Great
Up and sing! O 'anqa-natured nightingale!
High in every business doth thy worth prevail:
Sing! for good the words are that from thee proceed;
Whatsoever thou dost say is prized indeed.
Then, since words to utter thee so well doth suit,
Pity were it surely if thy tongue were mute.
Blow a blast in utt'rance that the Trusted One,
When he hears, ten thousand times may cry:
"Well done!" Up and sing! O bird most holy! up and sing!
Unto us a story fair and beauteous bring.
Let not opportunity slip by, silent there;
Unto us the beauty of each word declare.
Seldom opportunities like this with thee lie;
Sing then, for th' occasion now is thine, so hie!
Lose not opportunities that thy hand doth find,
For some day full suddenly Death thy tongue shall bind.
Of how many singers, eloquent of words,
Bound have Death and Doom the tongues fast in their cords!
Lose not, then, th' occasion, but to joy look now,
For one day thy station 'neath earth seek must thou.
While the tongue yet floweth, now thy words collect;
Them as Meaning's taper 'midst the feast erect,
That thy words, remaining long time after thee,
To the listeners' hearing shall thy record be.
Thy mementoes lustrous biding here behind,
Through them they'll recall thee, O my soul, to mind.
Those who've left mementoes ne'er have died in truth;
Those who've left no traces ne'er have lived in sooth.
Surely with this object didst thou come to earth,
That to mind should ever be recalled thy worth.
"May I die not!" say'st thou, one of noble race
Strive, then, that thou leavest here a name of grace.
Once unto his Vizier quoth the crowned King:
"Thou, who in my world-realm knowest everything!
With my sword I've conquered many and many a shore;
Still I sigh right sorely: >Ah! to conquer more!'
Great desire is with me realms to overthrow;
Through this cause I comfort ne'er a moment know.
Is there yet a country whither we may wend,
Where as yet our mighty sway doth not extend,
That we may it conquer, conquer it outright?
Ours shall be the whole earth—ours it shall be quite."
Then, when heard the Vizier what the King did say,
Quoth he: "Realm-o'erthrowing Monarch, live for aye!
May the Mighty Ruler set thy crown on high,
That thy throne may ever all assaults defy!
May thy life's rose-garden never fade away!
May thy glory's orchard never see decay!
Thou'st the Peopled Quarter ta'en from end to end;
All of its inhabitants slaves before thee bend.
There's on earth no city, neither any land,
That is not, O Monarch, under thy command.
In the Peopled Quarter Seven Climes are known,
And o'er all of these thy sway extends alone!" — Ahmedi
The Loves of Shirin
The spot at which did King Khusrev Perviz light
Was e'en the ruined dwelling of that moon bright.
Whilst wand'ring on, he comes upon that parterre,
As on he strolls, it opes before his eyes fair.
Among the trees a night-hued courser stands bound
(On Heaven's charger's breast were envy's scars found).
As softly moved he, sudden on his sight gleamed
A moon that in the water shining bright beamed.
O what a moon! a sun o'er earth that light rains—
Triumphant, happy, blest he who her shade gains.
She'd made the pool a casket for her frame fair,
And all about that casket spread her dark hair.
Her hand did yonder curling serpents back throw—
The dawn 'tis, and thereof we never tired grow.
He saw the water round about her ear play;
In rings upon her shoulders her dark locks lay.
When yon heart-winning moon before the King beamed,
The King became the sun—in him Love's fire gleamed.
The tears e'en like to water from his eyes rolled;
Was't strange, when did a Watery Sign the Moon hold?
No power was left him, neither sport nor pleasure;
He bit his finger, wildered beyond measure.
Unconscious of his gaze, the jasmine-breasted—
The hyacinths o'er the narcissi rested.
When shone her day-face, from that musky cloud bare,
Her eyes oped Shirin and beheld the King there.
Within that fountain, through dismay and shamed fright,
She trembled as on water doth the moonlight.
Than this no other refuge could yon moon find
That she should round about her her own locks bind.
The moon yet beameth through the hair, the dark night,
With tresses how could be concealed the sun bright?
To hide her from him, round her she her hair flung,
And thus as veil her night before her day hung.
When Ferhad bound to fair Shirin his heart's core,
From out his breast Love many a bitter wail tore.
On tablet of his life graved, shown was Shirin;
Of all else emptied, filled alone with Shirin.
As loathed he the companionship of mankind,
In wild beasts 'midst the hills did he his friends find.
His guide was Pain; his boon companion, Grief's throe;
His comrade, Sorrow; and his closest friend, Woe.
Thus wand'ring on, he knew not day from dark night;
For many days he onward strayed in sad plight.
Although before his face a wall of stone rise,
Until he strikes against it, blind his two eyes.
Through yearning for his love he from the world fled;
From out his soul into his body Death sped.
Because he knew that when the earthly frame goes,
Eternal, Everlasting Being love shows,
He fervent longed to be from fleshly bonds free,
That then his life in very truth might Life see.
In sooth, 'till dies the body, Life is ne'er found,
Nor with the love of life the Loved One e'er found. — Sheykhi
Book of Muhammad: The Creation of Paradise
Hither come, O seeker after Truth! if joy thou wouldest share,
Enter on the Mystic Pathway, follow it, then joy thou'lt share.
Harken now what God (exalted high his name!) from naught hath formed.
Eden's bower he hath created; Light, its lamp, he did prepare;
Loftiest its sites, and best and fairest are its blest abodes;
Midst of each a hall of pearls—not ivory nor teak-wood rare.
Each pavilion he from seventy ruddy rubies raised aloft—
Dwellings these in which the dwellers sit secure from fear or care.
Round within each courtyard seventy splendid houses he hath ranged,
Formed of emeralds green—houses these no fault of form that bear.
There, within each house, are seventy pearl and gem-incrusted thrones;
He upon each throne hath stretched out seventy couches broidered fair;
Sits on every couch a maiden of the bourne of loveliness:
Moons their foreheads, days their faces, each a jeweled crown doth wear;
Wine their rubies, soft their eyes, their eyebrows troublous, causing woe:
All-enchanting, Paradise pays tribute to their witching air.
Sudden did they see the faces of those damsels dark of eye,
Blinded sun and moon were, and Life's Stream grew bitter then and there.
Thou wouldst deem that each was formed of rubies, corals, and of pearls;
Question there is none, for God thus in the Qur'an doth declare.
Tables seventy, fraught with bounties, he in every house hath placed,
And on every tray hath spread out seventy sorts of varied fare.
All these glories, all these honors, all these blessings of delight,
All these wondrous mercies surely for his sake he did prepare:
Through his love unto Muhammad, he the universe hath framed;
Happy, for his sake, the naked and the hungry enter there.
O Thou Perfectness of Potence! O Thou God of Awful Might!
O Thou Majesty of Glory! O Thou King of Perfect Right!
Since he Eden's heaven created, all is there complete and whole,
So that naught is lacking; nothing he created needs repair.
Yonder, for his righteous servants, things so fair hath he devised,
That no eye hath e'er beheld them; ope thy soul's eye, on them stare.
Never have his servants heard them, neither can their hearts conceive;
Reach unto their comprehension shall this understanding ne'er.
There that God a station lofty, of the loftiest, hath reared,
That unclouded station he the name Vesila caused to bear,
That to his Beloved yonder station a dear home may be,
Thence ordained is Heaven's order free from every grief and care.
In its courtyard's riven center, planted he the Tuba-Tree;
That a tree which hangeth downward, high aloft its roots are there:
Thus its radiance all the Heavens lighteth up from end to end,
Flooding every tent and palace, every lane and every square.
Such a tree the Tuba, that the Gracious One hath in its sap
Hidden whatsoe'er there be of gifts and presents good and fair;
Forth therefrom crowns, thrones, and jewels, yea, and steeds and coursers come,
Golden leaves and clearest crystals, wines most pure beyond compare.
For his sake there into being hath he called the Tuba-Tree,
That from Ebu-Qasim's hand might every one receive his share. — Yaziji-Oglu
“The young Oguz prince Uruz accompanies his father Kazan on a hunting expedition near the Georgian border: the Georgian attack and capture Uruz. Kazan, not knowing this, returns home, where the boy's distraught mother questions him in the lines which follow. The tale ends happily: after a counter-attack in which his mother takes part, Uruz is freed. [Source: “The Book of Dede Korkut, compiled c. 13th century, translated by Geoffrey Lewis, Turkish Poetry Homepage]
“My lord Kazan,
Luck of my head, throne of my house,
Son-in-law of the Khan my father,
Loved of the lady of my mother,
He to whom my parents gave me,
Whom I see when I open my eyes,
Whom I gave my heart and loved,
My prince, my warrior, Kazan!
You rose up from your place and stood,
With your son you leaped on to your black-manned Kazilik horse,
You sent out hunt over the great mountaints with their lovely folds,
You caught and laid low the long-necked deer,
You loaded them on to your horses and turned homeward.
Two you went and one you come ; where is my child?
Where is my child whom I got in the dark night?
My one prince is not to be seen, and my heart is on fire.
Kazan, have you let the boy fall from the overhanging rocks?
Have you let the mountain-lion eat him?
Or have you let him meet the infidel of dark religion?
Have you let them tie his white hands and arms?
Have you let him walk before them?
Have you let him look fearfully around, his tongue and mouth dry?
Have you let the bitter tears flow from his dark eyes?
Have you let him cry for his lady mother, the prince his father?
“My son, my son, O my son,
My portion, my son!
Summit of my black mountain yonder, my son!
Lightof my dark eyes, my son!
The poison winds are not blowing, Kazan, yet my ears are ringing.
I have not eaten garlic, Kazan, yet I burn within.
The yellow snake has not stung me, yet my white body rises and swells.
In my breast, which seems dried up, my milk is leaping.
I cannot see my only son, and my heart is aflame.
Tell me, Kazan, about my only son.
If you will not, I shall curse you, Kazan, as I burn with fire...
I meant to rise up from my place and stand,
To mount my black-maned Kazilik horse,
To go among the teeming Oghuz,
To find a chestnut-eyed daughter-in-law,
To set up white tents on the black earth,
To walk my son to his bridal bower,
To bring him to his heart's desire.
You did not let me attain my wish,
May my dark head's curse seize you, Kazan.
My one prince is not to be seen, and my heart is on fire.
Tell me what you have done,
Or I shall curse you, Kazan, as I burn with fire.
Poems by Ottoman Sultans
Cupbearer, bring, bring here again my yester even's wine;
My harp and rebec bring, them bid address this heart of mine:
While still I live, 'tis meet that I should mirth and glee enjoy;
The day shall come when none may e'en my resting-place divine. — Sultan Murad II (r. 1421-1451) [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East,” (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
There's an o'erhanging castle in which there flows a main,
And there within that castle a fish its home hath ta'en;
The fish within its mouth doth hold a shining gem,
Which wastes the fish as long as it therein doth remain.
This puzzle to the poets is offered by Murad;
Let him reply who office or place desires to gain. —Sultan Murad IV
Allah! Lord who liv'st for aye! O Sole! O King of Glory's Ray!
Monarch who ne'er shalt pass away! show thou to us thy bounties fair.
In early morning shall our cry, our wail, mount to thy Throne on high:
"Error and sin our wont," we sigh: show thou to us thy bounties fair.
If cometh not from thee thy grace, evil shall all our works deface;
O Lord of Being and of Space! show thou to us thy bounties fair.
Creator of security! to thy Beloved greetings be!
These fair words are in sincerity: show thou to us thy bounties fair
Iqbali sinned hath indeed, yet unto him thy grace concede;
Eternal, Answerer in need! show thou to us thy bounties fair. —Sultan Mustafa II (r. 1695-1703)
Gazels by Ottoman Sultans
Souls are fluttered when the morning breezes through thy tresses stray;
Waving cypresses are wildered when thy motions they survey.
Since with witchcraft thou hast whetted keen the lancet of thy glance,
All my veins are bleeding inward through my longing and dismay.
"Why across thy cheek disordered float thy tresses?" asked I her.
"It is Rum-Eyli; there high-starred heroes gallop," did she say.
Thought I, though I spake not: "In thy quarter, through thy tint and scent,
Wretched and head-giddy, wand'ring, those who hope hope not for stray."
"Whence the anger in thy glances, O sweet love?" I said; then she:
"Silence! surely if I shed blood, I the ensigns should display."
Even as thou sighest, 'Avni, shower thine eyes tears fast as rain,
Like as follow hard the thunder-roll the floods in dread array.—Sultan Muhammad II (r. 1451-1481) [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
Fragment of a Gazel
Torn and pierced my heart has been by thy scorn and tyranny's blade;
Rent by the scissors of grief for thee is the robe that my patience arrayed.
Like the mihrab of the Kaaba, as shrine where in worship to turn,
Thy ward would an angel take, if thy footprint there he surveyed.
They are pearls, O mine eye! thou sheddest her day-bright face before;
Not a tear is left—these all are dried by the beams by her cheek displayed. —Sultan Muhammad II
To obey, Fight hard for Allah, is my aim and my desire;
'Tis but zeal for Faith, for Islam, that my ardor doth inspire.
Through the grace of Allah, and th' assistance of the Band Unseen,
Is my earnest hope the Infidels to crush with ruin dire.
On the Saints and on the Prophets surely doth my trust repose;
Through the love of God, to triumph and to conquest I aspire.
What if I with soul and gold strive here to wage the Holy War?
Praise is God's! ten thousand sighs for battle in my breast suspire.
O Muhammad! through the chosen Ahmed Mukhtar's glorious aid,
Hope I that my might may triumph over Islam's foes acquire! —Sultan Muhammad II
From Istambol's throne a mighty host to Iran guided I;
Sunken deep in blood of shame I made the Golden Heads to lie.
GIad the Slave, my resolution, lord of Egypt's realm became:
Thus I raised my royal banner e'en as the Nine Heavens high.
From the kingdom fair of Iraq to Hijaz these tidings sped,
When I played the harp of Heavenly Aid at feast of victory.
Through my saber Transoxania drowned was in a sea of blood;
Emptied I of kohl of Isfahan the adversary's eye.
Flowed adown a River Amu from each foeman's every hair—
Rolled the sweat of terror's fever—if I happed him to espy.
Bishop-mated was the King of India by my Queenly troops,
When I played the Chess of empire on the Board of sov'reignty.
O Selimi, in thy name was struck the coinage of the world,
When in crucible of Love Divine, like gold, that melted I. —Sultan Selim I (r. 1512-1520)
My pain for thee balm in my sight resembles
Thy face's beam the clear moonlight resembles.
Thy black hair spread across they cheeks, the roses
O Liege, the garden's basil quite resembles.
Beside thy lip oped wide its mouth, the rosebud;
For shame it blushed, it blood outright resembles.
Thy mouth, a casket fair of pearls and rubies,
Thy teeth, pearls, thy lip coral bright resembles.
Their diver I, each morning and each even;
My weeping, Liege, the ocean's might resembles.
Lest he seduce thee, this my dread and terror,
That rival who Iblis in spite resembles.
Around the taper bright, thy cheek, Muhibbi
Turns and the moth in his sad plight resembles. —Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (r. 1520-1566)
Ta'en my sense and soul have those thy Leyli locks, thy glance's spell,
Me, their Mejnun, 'midst of love's wild dreary desert they impel,
Since mine eyes have seen the beauty of the Joseph of thy grace,
Sense and heart have fall'n and lingered in thy chin's sweet dimple-well.
Heart and soul of mine are broken through my passion for thy lips;
From the hand of patience struck they honor's glass, to earth
The mirage, thy lips, O sweetheart, that doth like to water show;
For, through longing, making thirsty, vainly they my life dispel.
Since Selimi hath the pearls, thy teeth, been praising, sense and heart
Have his head and soul abandoned, plunging 'neath love's ocean-swell. —Sultan Selim II (r. 1566-1574).
Thy veil raise, shake from cheeks those locks of thine then;
Unclouded beauty's sun and moon bid shine then.
But one glance from those soft and drooping eyes throw
The heart through joy to drunkenness consign then.
Were I thy lip to suck, 'twould heal the sick heart;
Be kind, an answer give, Physician mine, then.
Beware lest evil glance thy beauty's rose smite,
From ill-eyed rival careful it confine then
O heart, this is Life's Water 'midst of darkness,
In night's gloom hidden, drink the ruby wine then.
My love's down grows upon her rosy-hued cheek,
A book write on the woes it does enshrine then.
Thy wine-hued lip, O love, grant to Selimi—
And by thy parting's shaft my tears make wine then. —Sultan Selim II
Soon as I beheld thee, mazed and wildered grew my sad heart;
How shall I my love disclose to thee who tyrant dread art?
How shall I hold straight upon my road, when yonder Torment
Smitten hath my breast with deadly wounds by her eyelash dart?
Face, a rose; and mouth, a rosebud; form, a slender sapling—
How shall I not be the slave of Princess such as thou art?
Ne'er hath heart a beauty seen like her of graceful figure;
Joyous would I for yon charmer's eyebrow with my life part.
Farisi, what can I do but love that peerless beauty?
Ah! this aged Sphere hath made me lover of yon sweetheart. —Sultan Osman II (r. 1617-1623)
Gazels By Ottoman Princes
Ah, thine eyes lay waste the heart, they 'gainst the soul bare daggers dread;
See how sanguinary gleam they—blood aye upon blood they shed.
Come, the picture of thy down bear unto this my scorched breast—
It is customary fresh greens over the broiled flesh to spread.
Said I: "O Life! since thy lip is life, to me vouchsafe a kiss."
Smiling rose-like, "Surely, surely, by my life," she answered.
As I weep sore, of my stained eyebrow and my tears of blood,
A 'Tis the rainbow o'er the shower stretched," were by all beholders said.
While within my heart thine eye's shaft, send not to my breast despair;
Idol mine! guest after guest must not to one same house be led.
Through its grieving for thy hyacinth down, thus feeble grown
Is the basil, that the gardeners nightly o'er it water shed.
Quoth I: "O Life! do not shun Jem, he a pilgrim here hath come";
"Though a pilgrim, yet his life doth on a child's face hang," she said. —Prince Jem (1481) [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
Lo! there the torrent, dashing 'gainst the rocks, doth wildly roll;
The whole wide realm of Space and Being ruth hath on my soul.
Through bitterness of grief and woe the morn hath rent its robe;
See! O in dawning's place, the sky weeps blood, without control
Tears shedding, o'er the mountain-tops the clouds of heaven pass;
Hear, deep the bursting thunder sobs and moans through stress of dole. —Prince Jem
If 'tis state thou seekest like the world-adorning sun's array,
Lowly e'en as water rub thy face in earth's dust every day.
Fair to see, but short enduring is this picture bright, the world;
'Tis a proverb: Fleeting like the realm of dreams is earth's display.
Through the needle of its eyelash never hath the heart's thread past;
Like unto the Lord Messiah bide I half-road on the way.
Athlete of the Universe through self-reliance grows the Heart,
With the ball, the Sphere—Time, Fortune—like an apple doth it play.
Mukhlisi, thy frame was formed from but one drop, yet, wonder great!
When thou verses sing'st, thy spirit like the ocean swells, they say. —Prince Mustafa
Poem to Sultan Murad IV from a Pasha, and a Reply
To Sultan Murad IV
Round us foes throng, host to aid us here in sad plight, is there none?
In the cause of God to combat, chief of tried might, is there none?
None who will checkmate the foe, Castle to Castle, face to face
In the battle who will Queen-like guide the brave Knight, is there none?
Midst a fearful whirlpool we are fallen helpless, send us aid!
Us to rescue, a strong swimmer in our friends' sight, is there none?
'Midst the fight to be our comrade, head to give or heads to take,
On the field of earth a hero of renown bright, is there none?
Know we not wherefore in turning off our woes ye thus delay;
Day of Reckoning, aye, and question of the poor's plight, is there none?
With us 'midst the foeman's flaming streams of scorching fire to plunge,
Salamander with experience of Fate dight, is there none?
This our letter, to the court of Sultan Murad, quick to bear,
Pigeon, rapid as the storm-wind in its swift flight, is there none? —Hafiz Pasha [Source: Charles F. Horne, ed., “The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East,” (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 262-271.
In Reply To The Preceding
To relieve Bagdad, O Hafiz, man of tried might, is there none?
Aid from us thou seek'st, then with thee host of fame bright, is there none?
"I'm the Queen the foe who'll checkmate," thus it was that thou didst say;
Room for action now against him with the brave Knight, is there none?
Though we know thou hast no rival in vainglorious, empty boasts,
Yet to take dread vengeance on thee, say, a Judge right, is there none?
While thou layest claim to manhood, whence this cowardice of thine?
Thou art frightened, yet beside thee fearing no fight, is there none?
Heedless of thy duty thou, the Rafizis have ta'en Bagdad;
Shall not God thy foe be? Day of Reckoning, sure, right, is there none?
They have wrecked Ebu-Hanifa's city through thy lack of care;
Oh, in thee of Islam's and the Prophet's zeal, light, is there none?
God, who favored us, whilst yet we knew not, with the Sultanate,
Shall again accord Bagdad, decreed of God's might, is there none?
Thou hast brought on Islam's army direful ruin with thy bribes;
Have we not heard how thou say'st, "Word of this foul blight, is there none?"
With the aid of God, fell vengeance on the enemy to take,
By me skilled and aged, vizier, pious, zeal-dight, is there none?
Now shall I appoint commander a vizier of high emprise,
Will not Khizar and the Prophet aid him? guide right, is there none?
Is it that thou dost the whole world void and empty now conceive?
Of the Seven Climes, Muradi, King of high might, is there none? —Sultan Murad IV (r. 1623-1640)
Poems Praising Ottoman Sultans
Sultan Muhammad! Murad's son! the Pride of Princes all;
He, the Darius, who to all earth's kings doth crowns ordain!
Monarch of stars! whose flag's the sun, whose stirrup is the moon!
Prince dread as Doom, and strong as Fate, and bounteous as main! —Nejati
From His Qasida On The Accession Of Sultan Bayezid II
One eve, when had the Sun before her radiant beauty bright
Let down the veil of ambergris, the musky locks of night;
(Off had the royal hawk, the Sun, flown from the Orient's hand,
And lighted in the West; flocked after him the crows in flight;)
To catch the gloomy raven, Night, the fowler skilled, the Sphere,
Had shaped the new-moon like the claw of eagle, sharp to smite;
In pity at the doleful sight of sunset's crimson blood,
Its veil across the heaven's eye had drawn the dusky Night.
Sultan of Rome! Khusrev of the Horizons! Bayezid!
King of the Epoch! Sovereign! and Center of all Right!
The tablet of his heart doth all th' affairs of earth disclose;
And eloquent as page of book the words he doth indite.
O Shah! I'm he who, 'midst th' assembly where thy praise is sung,
Will, rebec-like, a thousand notes upon one cord recite.
'Tis meet perfection through thy name to my poor words should come,
As to rose-water perfume sweet is brought by sunbeam's light. —Nejati
A Qaisda On Sultan Suleiman
One night when all the battlements Heaven's castle doth display,
Illumed and decked were, with the shining lamps, the stars' array,
Amidst the host of gleaming stars the Moon lit up his torch;
Athwart the field of Heaven with radiance beamed the Milky Way.
The Secretary of the Spheres had ta'en his meteor-pen,
That writer of his signature whom men and jinns obey.
There, at the banquet of the sky, had Venus struck her lyre,
In mirth and happiness, delighted, joyed and smiling gay.
Taking the keynote for her tune 'neath in the vaulted sphere,
The tambourinist Sun her visage bright had hid away.
Armed with a brand of gleaming gold had leapt into the plain
The Swordsman of the sky's expanse, of heaven's field of fray.
To give direction to the weighty matters of the earth
Had Jupiter, the wise, lit up reflection's taper's ray.
There raised aloft old Saturn high upon the Seventh Sphere
Sitting like Indian elephant-conductor on did stray.
"What means this decking of the universe?" I wond'ring said;
When, lo! with meditation's gaze e'en whilst I it survey,
Casting its beams on every side, o'er all earth rose the Sun,
O'er the horizons, e'en as Seal of Suleiman's display.
The eye of understanding looked upon this wondrous sight;
At length the soul's ear learned the secret hid in this which lay:
What is it that hath decked earth's hall with splendors such as this,
Saving the might and fortune of the King who earth doth sway?
He who sits high upon the throne above all crowned kings,
The Hero of the battlefield of dread Keyani fray,
Jemshid of happiness and joy, Darius of the fight,
Khusrev of right and clemency, Iskender of his day!
Lord of the East and West! King whom the kings of earth obey!
Prince of the Epoch! Sultan Suleiman! Triumphant Aye!
Meet 'tis before the steed of yonder Monarch of the realms
Of right and equity, should march earth's rulers' bright array.
Rebelled one 'gainst his word, secure he'd bind him in his bonds,
E'en like the dappled pard, the sky, chained with the Milky Way.
Lord of the land of graciousness and bounty, on whose board
Of favors, spread is all the wealth that sea and mine display;
Longs the perfumer, Early Spring, for th' odor of his grace;
Need hath the merchant, Autumn, of his bounteous hand alway.
Through tyrant's hard oppression no one groaneth in his reign,
And though may wail the flute and lute, the law they disobey.
Beside thy justice, tyranny's the code of Rey-Qubad;
Beside thy wrath, but mildness Qahraman's most deadly fray.
Thy scimitar's the gleaming guide empires to overthrow,
No foe of Islam can abide before thy saber's ray.
Saw it thy wrath, through dread of thee would trembling seize the pine;
The falling stars a chain around the heaven's neck would lay.
Amidst thy sea-like armies vast, thy flags and standards fair,
The sails are which the ship of splendid triumph doth display.
Thrust it its beak into the Sphere, 'twould seize it as a grain,
The 'anqa strong, thy power, to which 'twere but a seed-like prey.
In past eternity the hand, thy might, it struck with bat,
That time is this time, for the Sky's Ball spins upon its way.
Within the rosy garden of thy praise the bird, the heart,
Singeth this soul-bestowing, smooth-as-water-running lay.
If yonder mouth be not the soul, O heart-enslaver gay,
Then wherefore is it like the soul, hid from our eyes away?
Since in the casket of our mind thy ruby's picture lies,
The mine is now no fitting home for gem of lustrous ray.
Thy tresess fall across thy cheek in many a twisting curl,
"To dance to Hijaz have the Shamis tucked their skirts," we'd say.
Let both the youthful pine and cypress view thy motions fair;
The gardener now to rear the willow need no more assay.
The dark and cloudy-brained of men thine eyebrows black depict,
While those of keen, discerning wit thy glistening teeth portray.
Before thy cheek the rose and jasmine bowed in sujud,
The cypress to thy figure in qiyam did homage pay.
The heart's throne is the seat of that great monarch, love for thee;
The soul, the secret court, where doth thy ruby's picture stay.
The radiance of thy beauty bright hath filled earth like the sun,
The hall, "Be! and it is," resounds with love of thee for aye.
The cries of those on plain of earth have risen to the skies,
The shouts of those who dwell above have found to earth their way.
Nor can the nightingale with songs as sweet as Baqi's sing,
Nor happy as thy star can beam the garden's bright array.
The mead, the world, blooms through thy beauty's rose, like Irem's bower;
On every side are nightingales of sweet, melodious lay.
Now let us pray at Allah's court: "May this for aye endure,
The might and glory of this prospered King's resplendent sway;
Until the lamp, the world-illuming sun, at break of dawn,
A silver candelabrum on the circling skies display,
Oh! may the Ruler of the world with skirt of aid and grace
Protect the taper of his life from blast of doom, we pray!"
Glory's the comrade; Fortune, the cup-bearer at our feast;
The beaker is the Sphere; the bowl, the Steel of gold-inlay! —Baqi
Elegy On Sultan Suleiman I
O thou! foot-bounden in the mesh of fame and glory's snare!
'Till when shall last the lust of faithless earth's pursuits and care?
At that first moment, which of life's fair springtide is the last,
'Tis need the tulip cheek the tint of autumn leaf should wear;
'Tis need that thy last home should be, e'en like the dregs', the dust;
'Tis need the stone from hand of Fate should be joy's beaker's share.
He is a man indeed whose heart is as a mirror clear;
Man art thou? why then doth thy breast the tiger's fierceness bear?
In understanding's eye how long shall heedless slumber bide?
Will not war's Lion-Monarch's fate suffice to make thee ware?
He, Prince of Fortune's Cavaliers! he to whose charger bold,
Whene'er he caracoled or pranced, cramped was earth's tourney square!
He, to the luster of whose sword the Magyar bowed his head!
He, the dread gleaming of whose brand the Frank can well declare!
Like tender rose-leaf, gently laid he in the dust his face,
And Earth, the Treasurer, him placed like jewel in his case.
In truth, he was the radiance of rank high and glory great,
A Shah, Iskender-diademed, of Dara's armied state;
Before the dust beneath his feet the Sphere bent low its head;
Earth's shrine of adoration was his royal pavilion's gate.
The smallest of his gifts the meanest beggar made a prince;
Exceeding bounteous, exceeding kind a Potentate!
The court of glory of his kingly majesty most high
Was aye the center where would hopes of sage and poet wait.
Although he yielded to Eternal Destiny's command,
A King was he in might as Doom and puissant as Fate!
Weary and worn by this sad, changeful Sphere, deem not thou him:
Near God to be, did he his rank and glory abdicate.
What wonder if our eyes no more life and the world behold!
His beauty fair, as sun and moon, did earth irradiate!
If folk upon the bright sun look, with tears are filled their eyes;
For seeing it, doth yon moon-face before their minds arise!
Now let the cloud blood drop on drop weep, and its form bend low!
And let the Judas-tree anew in blossoms gore-hued blow!
With this sad anguish let the stars' eyes rain down bitter tears!
And let the smoke from hearts on fire the heavens all darkened show!
Their azure garments let the skies change into deepest black!
Let the whole world attire itself in robes of princely woe!
In breasts of fairies and of men still let the flame burn on—
Of parting from the blest EEing Suleiman the fiery glow!
His home above the highest heaven's ramparts he hath made;
This world was all unworthy of his majesty, I trow.
The bird, his soul, hath, huma like, aloft flown to the skies,
And naught remaineth save a few bones on the earth below.
The speeding Horseman of the plain of Time and Space was he;
Fortune and Fame aye as his friends and bridle-guides did go.
The wayward courser, cruel Fate, was wild and fierce of pace,
And fell to earth the Shade of God the Lord's benignant Grace.
Through grief for thee, bereft of rest and tearful e'en as I,
Sore weeping let the cloud of spring go wand'ring through the sky!
And let the wailing of the birds of dawn the whole world fill!
Be roses torn! and let the nightingale distressful cry!
Their hyacinths as weeds of woe displaying, let them weep,
Down o'er their skirts their flowing tears let pour—the mountains high!
The odor of thy kindliness recalling, tulip-like,
Within the Tartar musk-deer's heart let fire of anguish lie!
Through yearning for thee let the rose its ear lay on the path,
And, narcisse-like, till the last day the watchman's calling ply!
Although the pearl-diffusing eye to oceans turned the world,
Ne'er into being should there come a pearl with thee to vie!
O heart! this hour 'tis thou that sympathizer art with me;
Come, let us like the flute bewail, and moan, and plaintive sigh!
The notes of mourning and of dole aloud let us rehearse;
And let all those who grieve be moved by this our seven-fold verse.
Will earth's King ne'er awake from sleep?—broke hath the dawn of day:
Will ne'er he move forth from his tent, adorned as heaven's display?
Long have our eyes dwelt on the road, and yet no news hath come
From yonder land, the threshold of his majesty's array:
The color of his cheek hath paled, dry-lipped he lieth there,
E'en like that rose which from the vase of flowers hath fall'n away.
Goes now the Khusrev of the skies behind the cloudy veil,
For shame, remembering thy love and kindness, one would say.
My prayer is ever, "May the babes, his tears, go 'neath the sod,
Or old or young be he who weeps not thee in sad dismay."
With fame of parting from thee let the sun burn and consume;
And o'er the wastes through grief let darkness of the clouds hold sway.
Thy talents and thy feats let it recall and weep in blood,
Yea, let thy saber from its sheath plunge in the darksome clay.
Its collar, through its grief and anguish, let the reed-pen tear!
And let the earth its vestment rend through sorrow and despair!
Thy saber made the foe the anguish dire of wounds to drain;
Their tongues are silenced, none who dares to gainsay doth remain.
The youthful cypress, head-exalted, looked upon thy lance,
And ne'er its lissom twigs their haughty airs displayed again.
Where'er thy stately charger placed his hoof, from far and near
Flocked nobles, all upon thy path their lives to offer fain.
In desert of mortality the bird, desire, rests ne'er;
Thy sword in cause of God did lives as sacrifice ordain.
As sweeps a scimitar, across earth's face on every side,
Of iron-girded heroes of the world thou threw'st a chain.
Thou took'st a thousand idol temples, turnadst all to mosques;
Where jangled bells thou mad'st be sung the Call to Prayers' strain.
At length is struck the signal drum, and thou hast journeyed hence;
Lo! thy first resting-place is Eden's flowery, verdant plain.
Praise is to God! for he in the Two Worlds hath blessed thee,
And caused thy glorious name, Hero and Martyr both to be.
Paqi, the beauty of the King, the heart's delight, behold!
The mirror of the work of God, the Lord of Right, behold!
The dear old man hath passed away from th' Egypt sad, the world;
The youthful Prince, alert and fair as Joseph bright, behold!
The Sun hath risen, and the Dawning gray hath touched its bourne;
The lovely face of yon Khusrev, whose soul is light, behold!
This chase now to the grave hath sent the Behram of the Age;
Go, at his threshold serve, King Erdeshir aright, behold!
The blast of Fate to all the winds hath blown Suleiman's throne;
Sultan Selim Khan on Iskender's couch of might, behold!
The Tiger of the mount of war to rest in sleep hath gone;
The Lion who doth now keep watch on glory's height, behold!
The Peacock fair of Eden's mead hath soared to Heaven's parterre;
The luster of the huma of high, happy fight, behold!
Eternal may the glory of the heaven-high Khusrev dwell!
Blessings be on the Monarch's soul and spirit—and farewell! [Source: From: Charles F. Horne, ed., The Sacred Books and Early Literature of the East, (New York: Parke, Austin, & Lipscomb, 1917), Vol. VI: Medieval Arabia, pp. 259-325]
Poems from the Ottoman Period
O Handkerchief! I send thee—off to yonder maid of grace;
Around thee I my eyelashes will make the fringe of lace;
I will the black point of my eye rub up to paint therewith;
To yon coquettish beauty go—go look thou in her face.
O Handkerchief! the loved one's hand take, kiss her lip so sweet,
Her chin, which mocks at apple and at orange, kissing greet;
If sudden any dust should light upon her blessed heart,
Fall down before her, kiss her sandal's sole, beneath her feet.
A sample of my tears of blood thou, Handkerchief, wilt show,
Through these within a moment would a thousand crimson grow;
Thou'lt be in company with her, while I am sad with grief;
To me no longer life may be, if things continue so.—Nejati
"Bagdad to lovers is not far," O heart, then strive and strain.
One moment opened were her ebriate, strife-causing eyne,
By us as scimitars, not merely daggers, were they ta'en.
Yearneth Nejati for the court of thy fair Paradise
Though this a wish which he while here on earth can ne'er attain. —Nejati
Poems About the Seasons from the Ottoman Period
From His Spring Qasida
The early springtide now hath made earth smiling bright again,
E'en as doth union with his mistress soothe the lover's pain.
They say: "'Tis now the goblet's turn, the time of mirth 'tis now";
Beware that to the winds thou castest not this hour in vain.
Theriaca within their ruby pots the tulips lay:
See in the mead the running streamlet's glistening, snake-like train.
Onward, beneath some cypress-tree's loved foot its face to rub,
With turn and turn, and singing sweet, the brook goes through the plain.
Lord! may this happy union of felicity and earth,
Like turn of sun of Love, or Jesu's life, standfast remain!
May glee and mirth, e'en as desired, continuous abide
Like to a mighty Key-Khusrev's, or Jemshid's, glorious reign!
O sad heart, come, distraction's hour is now high,
The air's cool, 'midst the elds to sit the time nigh.
The Sun hath to the Balance, Joseph-like, past,
The year's Zuleykha hath her gold hoard wide cast.
By winds bronzed, like the Sun, the quince's face glows;
Its Pleiads-clusters, hanging forth, the vine shows.
In saffron flow'rets have the meads themselves dight;
The trees, all scorched, to gold have turned, and shine bright.
The gilded leaves in showers falling to earth gleam;
With goldfish filled doth glisten brightly each stream.
Ablaze each tree, and blent are all in one glare,
And therefore charged with glistening fire the still air.
Amidst the yellow foliage perched the black crows—
As tulip, saffron-hued, that spotted cup shows.
A yellow-plumaged bird now every tree stands,
Which shakes itself and feathers sheds on all hands.
Each vine-leaf paints its face, bride-like, with gold ink;
The brook doth silver anklets round the vine link.
The plane-tree hath its hands, with henna, red-dyed,
And stands there of the parterre's court the fair bride.
The erst green tree now like the starry sky shows,
And hurling meteors at the fiend, Earth, stones throws. —Lami'i
From the pleasure, joy, and rapture of this hour,
In its frame to hold its soul earth scarce hath power.
Rent its collar, like the dawning, hath the rose;
From its heart the nightingale sighs forth its woes.
Dance the juniper and cypress like the sphere;
Filled with melody through joy all lands appear.
Gently sing the running brooks in murmurs soft;
While the birds with tuneful voices soar aloft.
Play the green and tender branches with delight,
And they shed with one accord gold, silver, bright.
Like to couriers feet, the zephyrs speed away,
Resting ne'er a moment either night or day.
In that raid the rosebud filled with gold its hoard,
And the tulip with fresh musk its casket stored.
There the moon a purse of silver coin did seize;
Filled with ambergris its skirt the morning breeze;
Won the sun a golden disk of ruby dye,
And with glistening pearls its pocket filled the sky:
Those who poor were fruit and foliage attained;
All the people of the land some trophy gained. —Lami'i
Poems About Natural Things
O heart, come, wail, as nightingale thy woes show;
'Tis Pleasure's moment this, come, then, as rose blow.
In burning notes make thou thy tuneful song rise;
These iron hearts soft render with thy sad sighs.
Within thy soul place not, like tulip, dark brand;
When opportunity doth come, then firm stand.
From earth take justice ere yet are these times left,
And ere yet from the soul's harp is breath's song reft.
They call thee—view the joys that sense would yield thee;
But, ere thou canst say "Hie!" the bird is flown, see.
Give ear, rose-like, because in truth the night-bird
From break of dawn its bitter wail hath made heard.
Their chorus all around the gleeful birds raise;
The streamlets sing, the nightingale the flute plays.
The jasmines with their fresh leaves tambourines ply;
The streams, hard pressed, raise up their glistening foam high
Of junipers and cypresses two ranks 'tween,
The zephyr sports and dances o'er the flower-green.
The streamlets 'midst the vineyard hide-and-seek play
The flowerlets with, among the verdant leaves gay.
Away the morning's breeze the jasmine's crown tears,
As pearls most costly scatters it the plucked hairs.
The leader of the play's the breeze of swift pace;
Like children, each the other all the flowers chase.
With green leaves dressed, the trees each other's hands take;
The flowers and nightingales each other's robes shake.
Like pigeon, there, before the gale that soft blows,
Doth turn in many a somersault the young rose.
As blaze up with gay fowerlets all the red plains,
The wind each passes, and the vineyard next gains.
The clouds, pearl-raining, from the meteors sparks seize;
And flowers are all around strewn by the dawn-breeze.
The waters, eddying, in circles bright play,
Like shining swords the green leaves toss about they.
With bated breath the Judas-trees there stand by;
And each for other running brook and breeze sigh.
The gales tag with the basil play in high glee;
To dance with cypress gives its hand the plane-tree.
The soft winds have adorned the wanton bough fair,
The leader of the frolics 'midst the parterre.
The narcisse toward the almond-tree its glance throws;
With vineyard-love the pink upbraids the dog-rose.
The water's mirror clear doth as the Sphere gleam;
Its stars, the flowers, reflected, fair and bright beam.
The meads are skies; their stars, the drops of dew, glow;
The jasmine is the moon; the stream, the halo.
In short, each spot as resurrection-plane seems;
None who beholds of everlasting pain dreams.
Those who it view, and ponder well with thought's eye,
It's strange, if they be rmazed and wildered thereby?
Up! breeze-like, Lami'i, thy hermitage leave!
The roses' days in sooth no time for fasts give! —Lami'i
Cast off thy veil, and heaven and earth in dazzling light array!
As radiant Paradise, this poor demented world display!
Move thou thy lips, make play the ripples light of Kevser's pool!
Let loose thy scented locks, and odors sweet through earth convey!
A musky warrant by thy down was traced, and zephyr charged:
"Speed, with this scent subdue the realms of China and Cathay!"
O heart! should not thy portion be the Water bright of Life,
A thousand times mayst thou pursue Iskender's darksome way.
O Zeyneb, woman's love of earthly show leave thou behind;
Go manly forth, with single heart, forsake adornment gay! —Zeyneb
Once from sleep I oped my eyes, I raised my head, when full in sight
There before me stood a moon-faced beauty, lovely, shining, bright.
Thought I: "In th' ascendant's now my star, or I my fate have reached,
For within my chamber sure is risen Jupiter this night."
Radiance from his beauty streaming saw I, though to outward view
(While himself a Moslem) he in garb of infidel is dight.
Though I oped my eyes or closed them, still the form was ever there;
Thus I fancied to myself: "A fairy this or angel bright?"
'Till the Resurrection ne'er shall Mihri gain the Stream of Life;
Yet in Night's deep gloom Iskender gleamed before her wond'ring sight. —Mihri
Faithful and kind a friend I hoped that thou wouldst prove to me;
Who would have thought so cruel and fierce a tyrant in thee to see?
Thou who the newly oped rose art of the Garden of Paradise,
That every thorn and thistle thou lov'st—how can it fitting be?
I curse thee not, but of God Most High, Our Lord, I make this prayer—
That thou may'st love a pitiless one in tyranny like to thee.
In such a plight am I now, alack! that the curser saith to his foe:
"Be thy fortune dark and thy portion black, even as those of Mihri!" —Mihri
Truth this: a lasting home hath yielded ne'er earth's spreading plain;
Scarce e'en an inn where may the caravan for rest remain.
Though every leaf of every tree is verily a book,
For those who understanding lack doth earth no leaf contain.
E'en though the Loved One be from thee as far as East from West,
Poems by Gazali
From An Elegy On Iskender Chelebi
High honored once was the noble Iskender;
O heart, from his destiny warning obtain.
Ah! do thou see what at length hath befall'n him!
What all this glory and panoply gain!
Drinking the poison of doom, ne'er a remnant
Of sweetness's taste in his mouth did remain.
Retrograde, sank down his star, erst ascendant,
From perfect conjunction, alas, did it wane.
Dust on the face of his honor aye stainless
Strewn hath the blast of betrayal profane.
The Lofty Decree for his high exaltation
Did Equity's Court, all unlooked for, ordain;
Forthwith to the Regions of Eden they bore him,
They raised him from earth's abject baseness and stain.
Circling and soaring, he went on his journey,
From the land of his exile to Home back again.
Neck-bounden he stood as a slave at the palace,
Freed is he now from affliction's hard chain.
Joyous he flew on his journey to Heaven,
Rescued forever from earth gross and vain.
In life or in death from him never, ay, never
Was honor most lofty, most glorious, ta'en!—Gazali
Come is the autumn of my life, alas, it thus should pass away!
I have not reached the dawn of joy, to sorrow's night there is no day.
Time after time the image of her cheek falls on my tear-filled eye;
Ah! no pretension to esteem can shadows in the water lay!
Oh! whither will these winds of Fate impel the frail bark of the heart?
Nor bound nor shore confining girds Time's dreary ocean of dismay! —Gazali
Poems by Fuzuli
From Leyli And Mejnun
Yield not the soul to pang of Love, for Love's the soul's fierce glow;
That Love's the torment of the soul doth all the wide world know.
Seek not for gain from fancy wild of pang of Love at all;
For all that comes from fancy wild of Love's pang is grief's throe.
Each curving eyebrow is a blood-stained saber thee to slay;
Each dusky curl, a deadly venomed snake to work thee woe.
Lovely, indeed, the forms of moon-like maidens are to see—
Lovely to see, but ah! the end doth bitter anguish show.
From this I know full well that torment dire in love abides,
That all who lovers are, engrossed with sighs, rove to and fro.
Call not to mind the pupils of the black-eyed damsels bright,
With thought, "I'm man"; be not deceived, 'tis blood they drink, I trow.
E'en if Fuzuli should declare, "In fair ones there is troth,"
Be not deceived— "A poet's words are falsehoods all men know." —Fuzuli
Mejnun Addresses Nevfil
Quoth Mejnun: "O sole friend of true plight!
With counsel many have tried me to guide right;
Many with wisdom gifted have advice shown,
But yet this fiend hath been by no one o'erthrown;
Much gold has on the earth been strewn round,
But yet this Stone of Alchemist by none's found.
Collyrium I know that doth increase light,
What use though is it if the eye doth lack sight?
I know that greatest kindliness in thee lies,
What use, though, when my fate doth ever dark rise?
Upon my gloomy fortune I no faith lay,
Impossible my hope appeareth alway.
Ah! though in this thou shouldest ever hard toil,
The end at length will surely all thy plans foil.
No kindliness to me my closest friends show;
Who is a friend to him whom he doth deem foe?
I know my fortune evil is and woe-fraught;
The search for solace is to me, save pain, naught.
There is a gazel that doth well my lot show,
Which constant I repeat where'er my steps go." —Fuzuli
From whomsoe'er I've sought for troth but bitterest disdain I've seen;
Whome'er within this faithless world I've trusted, all most vain I've seen.
To whomsoe'er I've told my woes, in hope to find some balm therefor,
Than e'en myself o'erwhelmed and sunk in deeper, sadder pain I've seen.
From out mine aching heart no one hath driven cruel grief away,
That those my friends of pleasure's hour affection did but feign I've seen.
Although I've clutched its mantle, life hath turned away its face from me;
And though I faith from mirror hoped, there persecuted swain I've seen.
At gate of hope I set my foot, bewilderment held forth its hand,
Alas! whene'er hope's thread I've seized, in hand the serpent's train I've seen.
A hundred times the Sphere hath shown to me my darksome fortune's star;
Whene'er my horoscope I've cast, but blackest, deepest stain I've seen.
Fuzuli, blush not then, should I from mankind turn my face away;
For why? From all to whom I've looked, but reason sad too plain I've seen. —Fuzuli
His grief and mourning Zeyd renewad alway,
From bitter wailing ceased he not, he wept aye.
That faithful, loving, ever-constant friend dear.
One night, when was the rise of the True Dawn near,
Feeling that in his wasted frame no strength stayed,
Had gone, and down upon that grave himself laid.
There, in his sleep, he saw a wondrous fair sight,
A lovely garden, and two beauties, moon-bright;
Through transport rapturous, their cheeks with light glow;
Far distant now, all fear of anguish, pain, woe;
With happiness and ecstasy and joy blest,
From rivals' persecutions these have found rest;
A thousand angel-forms to each fair beauty,
With single heart, perform the servant's duty.
He, wondering, question made: "What Moons so bright these?
What lofty, honored Sovereigns of might these?
What garden, most exalted, is this parterre?
What throng so bright and beautiful, the throng there?"
They answer gave: "Lo! Eden's shining bowers these;
That radiant throng, the Heaven-born Youths and Houris;
These two resplendent forms, bright as the fair moon,
These are the ever-faithful—Leyli, Mejnun!
Since pure within the vale of love they sojourned,
And kept that purity till they to dust turned,
Are Eden's everlasting bowers their home now,
To them the Houris and the Youths as slaves bow:
Since these, while on the earth, all woe resigned met,
And patience aye before them in each grief set,
When forth they fled from this false, faithless world's bound,
From all those pangs and sorrows they release found!" —Fuzuli
Gazels by Fuzuli
O breeze, thou'rt kind, of balm to those whom pangs affright, thou news hast brought,
To wounded frame of life, to life of life's delight thou news hast brought.
Thou'st seen the mourning nightingale's despair in sorrow's autumn drear,
Like springtide days, of smiling roseleaf fresh and bright, thou news hast brought.
If I should say thy words are heaven-inspired, in truth, blaspheme I not;
Of Faith, whilst unbelief doth earth hold fast and tight, thou news hast brought.
They say the loved one comes to soothe the hearts of all her lovers true;
If that the case, to yon fair maid of lovers' plight thou news hast brought.
Of rebel demon thou hast cut the hope Suleiman's throne to gain;
That in the sea secure doth lie his Ring of might, thou news hast brought.
Fuzuli, through the parting night, alas, how dark my fortune grew!
Like zephyr of the dawn, of shining sun's fair light thou news hast brought. —Fuzuli
O thou Perfect Being, Source whence wisdom's mysteries arise;
Things, the issue of thine essence, show wherein thy nature lies.
Manifester of all wisdom, thou art he whose pen of might
Hath with rays of stars illumined yonder gleaming page, the skies.
That a happy star, indeed, the essence clear of whose bright self
Truly knoweth how the blessings from thy word that flow to prize.
But a jewel flawed am faulty I: alas, forever stands
Blank the page of my heart's journal from thought of thy writing wise.
In the journal of my actions Evil's lines are black indeed;
When I think of Day of Gathering's terrors, blood flows from my eyes.
Gathering of my tears will form a torrent on the Reckoning Day,
If the pearls, my tears, rejecting, he but view them to despise:
Pearls my tears are, O Fuzuli, from the ocean deep of love;
But they're pearls these, oh! most surely, that the Love of Allah buys! —Fuzuli
Is't strange if beauties' hearts turn blood through envy of thy cheek most fair?
For that which stone to ruby turns is but the radiant sunlight's glare.
Or strange is't if thine eyelash conquer all the stony-hearted ones?
For meet an ebon shaft like that a barb of adamant should bear!
Thy cheek's sun-love hath on the hard, hard hearts of fairy beauties fall'n,
And many a steely-eyed one hath received thy bright reflection fair.
The casket, thy sweet mouth, doth hold spellbound the huri-faced ones all;
The virtue of Suleiman's Ring was that fays thereto fealty sware.
Is't strange if, seeing thee, they rub their faces lowly midst the dust?
That down to Adam bowed the angel throng doth the Qur'an declare!
On many and many a heart of stone have fall'n the pangs of love for thee!
A fire that lies in stone concealed is thy heart-burning love's dread glare!
Within her ward, with garments rent, on all sides rosy-cheeked ones stray;
Fuzuli, through those radiant hues, that quarter beams a garden fair. —Fuzuli
From the turning of the Sphere my luck hath seen reverse and woe;
Blood I've drunk, for from my banquet wine arose and forth did go.
With the flame, my burning sighs, I've lit the wand'ring wildered heart;
I'm a fire, doth not all that which turns about me roasted glow?
With thy rubies wine contended—oh! how it hath lost its wits!
Need 'tis yon ill-mannered wretch's company that we forego.
Yonder moon saw not my burning's flame upon the parting day—
How can e'er the sun about the taper all night burning know?
Every eye that all around tears scatters, thinking of thy shaft,
Is an oyster-shell that causeth rain-drops into pearls to grow.
Forms my sighing's smoke a cloud that veils the bright cheek of the moon;
Ah! that yon fair moon will ne'er the veil from off her beauty throw!
Ne'er hath ceased the rival e'en within her ward to vex me sore;
How say they, Fuzuli, "There's in Paradise nor grief nor woe"? —Fuzuli
A stately Cypress yesterday her shade threw o'er my head;
Her form was heart-ensnaring, heart-delighting her light tread;
When speaking, sudden opened she her smiling rubies red,
There a pistachio I beheld that drops of candy shed.
"This casket can it be a mouth? Ah! deign!" I said;
Said she: "Nay, nay, 'tis balm to cure thy hidden smart; aye, truly thine!"
Down o'er her crescents she had pressed the turban she did wear,
By which, from many broken hearts, sighs raised she of despair;
She loosed her tresses—hid within the cloud her moon so fair,
And o'er her visage I beheld the curls of her black hair.
"Those curling locks, say, are they then a chain?" I said;
Said she: "That round my cheek, a noose to take thy heart; aye, truly thine!"
The taper bright, her cheek, illumined day's lamp in the sky;
The rose's branch was bent before her figure, cypress-high;
She, cypress-like, her foot set down upon the fount, my eye,
But many a thorn did pierce her foot she suffered pain thereby.
"What thorn unto the roseleaf-foot gives pain?" I said;
Said she: "The lash of thy wet eye doth it impart; aye, truly thine!"
Promenading, to the garden did that jasmine-cheeked one go;
With many a bright adornment in the early springtide's glow;
The hyacinths their musky locks did o'er the roses throw;
That Picture had tattooed her lovely feet rose-red to show.
"The tulip's hue whence doth the dog-rose gain?" I said;
Said she: "From blood of thine shed 'neath my glance's dart; aye, truly thine!"
To earth within her ward my tears in torrents rolled apace;
The accents of her ruby lips my soul crazed by their grace;
My heart was taken in the snare her musky locks did trace,
That very moment when my eyes fell on her curls and face.
"Doth Scorpio the bright Moon's House contain?" I said;
Said she: "Fear! threatening this Conjunction dread, thy part; aye, truly thine!"
Her hair with ambergris perfumed was waving o'er her cheek,
On many grieving, passioned souls it cruel woe did wreak;
Her graceful form and many charms my wildered heart made weak;
The eye beheld her figure fair, then heart and soul did seek.
"Ah! what bright thing this cypress of the plain?" I said;
Said she: "'Tis that which thy fixed gaze beholds apart; aye, truly thine!"
When their veil her tulip and dog-rose had let down yesterday,
The morning breeze tore off that screen which o'er these flow'rets lay;
Came forth that Envy of the sun in garden fair to stray,
Like lustrous pearls the dewdrops shone, a bright and glistening spray.
"Pearls, say, are these, aye pearls from 'Aden's main?" I said;
Said she: "Tears, these, of poor Fuzuli, sad of heart; aye, truly thine!" —Fuzuli
Attar within vase of crystal, such thy fair form silken-gowned;
And thy breast is gleaming water, where the bubbles clear abound;
Thou so bright none who may gaze upon thee on the earth is found;
Bold wert thou to cast the veil off, standing forth with garland crowned:
Not a doubt but woe and ruin all the wide world must confound!
Lures the heart thy gilded palace, points it to thy lips the way;
Eagerly the ear doth listen for the words thy rubies say;
Near thy hair the comb remaineth, I despairing far away;
Bites the comb, each curling ringlet, when it through thy locks doth stray:
Jealous at its sight, my heart's thread agonized goes curling round.
Ah! her face the rose, her shift rose-hued, her trousers red their shade;
With its flame burns us the fiery garb in which thou are arrayed.
Ne'er was born of Adam's children one like thee, O cruel maid!
Moon and Sun, in beauty's circle, at thy fairness stand dismayed:
Seems it thou the Sun for mother and the Moon for sire hast owned.
Captive bound in thy red fillet, grieve I through thy musky hair;
Prone I 'neath those golden anklets which thy silvern limbs do wear;
Think not I am like thy fillet, empty of thy grace, O fair!
Rather to the golden chain, which hangs thy cheek round, me compare:
In my sad heart pangs a thousand from thy glance's shafts are found.
Eyes with antimony darkened, hands with henna crimson dyed;
Through these beauties vain and wanton like to thee was ne'er a bride.
Bows of poplar green, thy painted brows; thy glances shafts provide.
Poor Fuzuli for thine eyes and eyebrows aye hath longing cried:
That the bird from bow and arrow flees not, well may all astound. —Fuzuli
Alas! nor dew nor smiling rose within this mead is mine;
Within this market-place nor trade nor coin for need is mine;
Nor more nor less; nor power nor strength for act or deed is mine;
Nor might nor eminence; nor balm the cure to speed is mine.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
Being's the bounty of the tord; and Life, the gift Divine;
The Breath, the present of his love; and Speech his Grace's sign;
The Body is the pile of God; the Soul, his Breath benign;
The Powers thereof, his Glory's trust; the Senses, his design.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
No work, no business of my own within this mart have I;
All Being is of him alone-no life apart have I;
No choice of entering this world, or hence of start have I;
To cry, "I am! I am!" in truth, no power of heart have I.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
The Earth the carpet is of Power; the Sphere, the tent of Might;
The Stars, both fixed and wandering, are Glory's lamps of light;
The World's the issue of the grace of Mercy's treasures bright;
With forms of beings is the page of Wisdom's volume dight.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
Being is but a loan to us, and Life in trust we hold:
In slaves a claim to Power's pretension arrogant and bold;
The servant's part is by submission and obedience told;
Should He, "My slave," address to me, 'twere favors manifold.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
I'm poor and empty-handed, but grace free is of the Lord;
Non-entity's my attribute: to Be is of the Lord;
For Being or Non-being's rise, decree is of the Lord;
The surging of the Seen and Unseen's sea is of the Lord.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
Of gifts from table of his Bounty is my daily bread;
My breath is from the Breath of God's benignant Mercy fed;
My portion from the favors of Almighty Power is shed;
And my provision is from Providence's kitchen spread.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
I can not, unallotted, take my share from wet or dry;
From land or from the ocean, from earth or from the sky;
The silver or the gold will come, by Providence laid by;
I can not grasp aught other than my fortune doth supply.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
Creation's Pen the lines of billows of events hath traced;
Th' illumined scroll of the Two Worlds, Creation's Pencil graced;
Their garments upon earth and sky, Creation's woof hath placed;
Men's forms are pictures in Creation's great Shah-Nama traced.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
I can not make the morning eve, or the dark night the day;
I can not turn the air to fire, or dust to water's spray;
I can not bid the Sphere stand still, or mountain region stray;
I can not Autumn turn by will of mine to lovely May.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
From out of Nothingness his mighty Power made me appear;
Whilst in the womb I lay, saw he to all I need for here;
With kindness concealed and manifest did he me rear;
With me he drew a curtain o'er Distinction's beauty dear.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
God's Revelation is Discernment's Eye, if't oped remain;
The picturings of worlds are all things changing aye amain;
The showing of the Hidden Treasure is this raging main,
This work, this business of the Lord, this Majesty made plain.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine!
Now void, now full, are Possibility's storehouses vast;
This glass-lined world's the mirror where Lights Twain their phases cast;
The blinded thing—in scattering strange fruits its hours are past;
Ruined hath this old Vineyard been by autumn's sullen blast.
Oh, that I knew what here I am, that which indeed is mine! —Nabi
Ne'er a corner for the plaintive bulbul's nest remaineth now;
Ne'er a palm-tree 'neath whose kindly shade is rest remaineth now.
Day and night some balm I've sought for, to relieve my wounded heart;
Ne'er a cure within the heavens' turquoise chest remaineth now.
From its source, through every country, searched have I, but all in vain—
Ne'er a single drop, in mercy's fountain blest, remaineth now.
Empty earthen pots are reckoned one with jewels rich and rare;
Ne'er a scale in value's mart the worth to test remaineth now.
'Neath the earth may now the needy hide themselves, Nabi, away;
Ne'er a turret on the fort of interest remaineth now. —Nabi
Gazels by Baqi
'Tis love's wild sea, my sighs' fierce wind doth lash those waves my tears uprear;
My head, the bark of sad despite; mine eyebrows twain, the anchors here.
Mine unkempt hair, the den of yonder tiger dread, the fair one's love;
My head, dismay and sorrow's realm's deserted mountain region drear.
At whatsoever feast I drain the cup thy rubies' mem'ry to,
Amidst all those who grace that feast, except the dregs, I've no friend near.
Thou know'st, O Light of my poor eyes, with tutya mixed are gems full bright,
What then if weep on thy path's dust mine eyes that scatter pearls most clear!
The Sphere, old hag, with witchcraft's spell hath parted me from my fond love,
O Baqi, see, by God, how vile a trick yon jade hath played me here! —Baqi
Years trodden under foot have I lain on that path of thine;
Thy musky locks are noose-like cast, around my feet to twine.
O Princess mine! boast not thyself through loveliness of face,
For that, alas, is but a sun which must full soon decline!
The loved one's stature tall, her form as fair as juniper,
Bright 'midst the rosy bowers of grace a slender tree doth shine.
Her figure, fair-proportioned as my poesy sublime,
Her slender waist is like its subtle thought—hard to divine.
Then yearn not, Baqi, for the load of love's misfortune dire;
For that to bear mayhap thy soul no power doth enshrine. —Baqi
With her graceful-moving form, a Cypress jasmine-faced is she?
Or in Eden's bower a branch upon the Lote or Tuba-tree?
That thy blood-stained shaft which rankles in my wounded breast, my love,
In the rosebud hid a lovely rose-leaf, sweetheart, can it be?
To the dead of pain of anguish doth its draught fresh life impart;
O cupbearer, is the red wine Jesu's breath? tell, tell to me!
Are they teeth those in thy mouth, or on the rosebud drops of dew?
Are they sparkling stars, or are they gleaming pearls, that there I see?
Through the many woes thou wreakest upon Baqi, sick of heart,
Is't thy will to slay him, or is it but sweet disdain in thee? —Baqi
Before thy form, the box-tree's lissom figure dwarfed would show;
Those locks of thine the pride of ambergris would over-throw.
Who, seeing thy cheek's glow, recalls the ruby is deceived;
He who hath drunken deep of wine inebriate doth grow.
Should she move forth with figure like the juniper in grace,
The garden's cypress to the loved one's form must bend right low.
Beware, give not the mirror bright to yonder paynim maid,
Lest she idolater become, when there her face doth show.
Baqi, doth he not drink the wine of obligation's grape,
Who drunken with A-lestu's cup's o'erwhelming draught doth go? —Baqi
Thy cheek, like limpid water, clear doth gleam;
Thy pouting mouth a bubble round doth seem.
The radiance of thy cheek's sun on the heart
Like moonlight on the water's face doth beam.
The heart's page, through the tracings of thy down,
A volume all illumined one would deem.
That fair Moon's sunny love the earth have burned,
It warm as rays of summer sun doth stream.
At woful sorrow's feast my bloodshot eyes,
Two beakers of red wine would one esteem.
Baqi, her mole dark-hued like ambergris,
A fragrant musk-pod all the world would deem. —Baqi
All sick the heart with love for her, sad at the feast of woe;
Bent form, the harp; low wail, the fillte; heart's blood for wine doth flow.
Prone lies the frame her path's dust 'neath, in union's stream the eye,
In air the mind, the soul 'midst separation's fiery glow.
Oh, ever shall it be my lot, zone-like, thy waist to clasp!
'Twixt us, O love, the dagger blade of severance doth show!
Thou art the Queen of earth, thy cheeks are Towers of might, this day,
Before thy Horse, like Pawns, the Kings of grace and beauty go.
Him hinder not, beside thee let him creep, O Shade-like stay!
Baqi, thy servant, O my Queen, before thee lieth low. —Baqi
Lo, ne'er a trace or sign of springtide's beauty doth remain;
Fall'n 'midst the garden lie the leaves, now all their glory vain.
Bleak stand the orchard trees, all clad in tattered dervish rags;
Dark Autumn's blast hath torn away the hands from off the plane.
From each hill-side they come and cast their gold low at the feet.
Of garden trees, as hoped the streams from these some boon to gain.
Stay not within the parterre, let it tremble with its shame:
Bare every shrub, this day doth naught of leaf or fruit retain.
Baqi, within the garden lies full many a fallen leaf;
Low lying there, it seems they 'gainst the winds of Fate complain. —Baqi
Tulip-cheeked ones over rosy field and plain stray all around;
Mead and garden cross they, looking wistful each way, all around.
These the lovers true of radiant faces aye, but who the fair?
Lissom Cypress, thou it is whom eager seek they all around.
Band on band Woe's legions camped before the City of the Heart,
There, together leagued, sat Sorrow, Pain, Strife, Dismay, all around.
From my weeping flows the river of my tears on every side,
Like an ocean 'tis again, a sea that casts spray all around.
Forth through all the Seven Climates have the words of Baqi gone;
This refulgent verse recited shall be alway, all around. —Baqi
From thine own beauty's radiant sun doth light flow;
How lustrously doth now the crystal glass show!
Thy friend's the beaker, and the cup's thy comrade;
Like to the dregs why dost thou me aside throw?
Hearts longing for thy beauty can resist not;
Hold, none can bear the dazzling vision's bright glow!
United now the lover, and now parted;
This world is sometimes pleasure and sometimes woe.
Bound in the spell of thy locks' chain is Baqi,
Mad he, my Liege, and to the mad they grace show. —Baqi
The goblet as affliction's Khusrev's bright Keyani crown doth shine;
And surely doth the wine-jar love's King's Khusrevani hoard enshrine.
Whene'er the feast recalls Jemshid, down from its eyes the red blood rolls;
The rosy-tinted wine its tears, the beakers its blood-weeping eyne.
At parting's banquet should the cup, the heart, with blood brim o'er were't strange?
A bowl that, to the fair we'll drain, a goblet filled full high with wine.
O Moon, if by thy door one day the foe should sudden me o'ertake—
A woe by Heaven decreed, a fate to which I must myself resign!
The fume of beauty's and of grace's censer is thy cheek's sweet mole,
The smoke thereof thy musky locks that spreading fragrant curl and twine;
Thy cheek rose-hued doth light its taper at the moon that shines most bright,
Its candlestick at grace's feast is yonder collar fair of thine.
Of love and passion is the lustrous sheen of Baqi's verse the cause;
As Life's Stream brightly this doth shine; but that, th' Eternal Life Divine. —Baqi
When the sheets have yonder Torment to their bosom ta'en to rest,
Think I, "Hides the night-adorning Moon within the cloudlet's breast."
In the dawning, O thou turtle, mourn not with those senseless plaints;
In the bosom of some stately cypress thou'rt a nightly guest.
Why thou weepest from the heavens, never can I think, O dew;
Every night some lovely rose's bosom fair thou enterest.
Hath the pearl seen in the story of thy teeth its tale of shame,
Since the sea hath hid the album of the shell within its breast?
Longing for thy cheeks, hath Baqi all his bosom marked with scars,
Like as though he'd cast of rose-leaves fresh a handful o'er his chest. —Baqi
“Knowledge is to understand
To understand who you are.
If you know not who you are
What's the use of learning?
“The aim in learning is
To understand God's Truth.
Because without knowledge
It is wasted hard labour.
“Do not say: I know it all,
I am obedient to my God.
If you know not who God is
That is sheer idle talk.
You read from end to end.
You name the first `alpha''
What can it possibly mean?
“Yunus Emre says also
Let me receive what I need.
The best possible thing
Is to find perfect peace.— Yunus Emre (?1238-?1320)
[Source: Translated by Taner Baybars, Turkish Poetry Homepage]
“O my God do not part me from thee
Do not part me from thy sight [Source: Turkish Poetry Homepage]
“To love you is my faith and belief
Do not part my belief from my faith
“I've withered, become like the Autumn
Do not part the leaves from the branch
“My master is a rose, I his leaf
Do not part the leaf from the rose
“I, a nightingale in my love's garden
Do not part his beak from his song
“All the fish breathe in water they say
Do not part the fish from the lake
“Esrefoglu is the humble slave
Do not part the Sultan from his servant — Esrefoglu (?-1469)
[Source: Translated by Taner Baybars, Turkish Poetry Homepage]
Pir Sultan Abdal
“The rough man entered the lover's garden
It is woods now, my beautiful one, it is woods,
Gathering roses, he has broken their stems
They are dry now, my beautiful one, they are dry
“In this square our hide is stretched
Blessed be, we saw our friend off to God
One day, too, black dust must cover us
We will rot, my beautiful one, we will rot
“He himself reads and He also writes
God's holy hand has closed her crescent eyebrows
Your peers are wandering in Paradise
They are free, my beautiful one, they are free
“Whatever religion you are, I'll worship it too
I will be torn off with you even the Day of Judgement
Bend for once, let me kiss you on your white neck
Just stay there for a moment, my beautiful one, just stay there
“I'm Pir Sultan Abdal, I start from the root
I eat the kernel and throw out the evil weed
And weave from a thousand flowers to one hive honey
I am an honest bee, my beautiful one, an honest bee — Pir Sultan Abdal
[Source: Murat Nemet-Nejat, Talisman 1991 (Spring 6), Turkish Poetry Homepage]
Song by Nedim
“Come, let's grant the joy to this heart of ours that founders in distress:
Let's go to the pleasure gardens, come, my sauntering cypress . . .
Look, at the quay, a six-oared boat is waiting in readiness-
Let's go to the pleasure gardens, come, my sauntering cypress . . .
“Let's laugh and play, let's enjoy the world to the hilt while we may,
Drink nectar at the fountain which was unveiled the other day,
And watch the gargoyle sputter the elixir of life away-
Let's go to the pleasure gardens, come, my sauntering cypress .
“First, for a while, let's take a stroll around the pond at leisure,
And gaze in marvel at that palace of heavenly pleasure;
Now and then, let's sing songs or recite poems for good measure-
Let's go to the pleasure gardens, come, my sauntering cypress .
“Get your mother's leave, say it's for holy prayers this Friday:
Out of time's tormenting clutches let us both steal a day
And slinking through the secret roads and alleys down to the quay,
Let's go to the pleasure gardens, come, my sauntering cypress .
“Just you and I, and a singer with exquisiste airs-and yet
Another: with your kind permission, Nedim, the mad poet;
Let's forget our boon companions today, my joyful coquette-
Let's go to the pleasure gardens, come, my sauntering cypress. — Nedim (?1681-1730) [Source: Translated by Talat Sait Halman, [Source: Turkish Poetry Homepage]
Promised Land by Ahmet Hasim
“Let it play with your hair, this gentle breeze
Blowing from the seven seas.
If only you knew
How lovely you are the way you gaze at the edge of the night
Steeped in the greef of exile and longing, in sorrow.
Nor the dusk that gathers in your beauty
Nor the blue sea.
That safe harbour for the distress that assaults the brain-
We spurn the generation which knows nothing of the soul's pain.
Brands you merely a fresh slender woman
And me just an old fool.
That wretched appetite, that filthy sight
Can find no meaning in you or me
Nor a tender grief in the night
Nor the sullen tremor of secrecy and disdain
On the calm sea.
“You and I
And the sea
And the night that seems to gather silently,
Without trembling, the fragrance of your soul,
Torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway,
We are forever doomed to this exile here.
Stretches along the chaste regions of imagination, and
A blue nightfall
Reposes there for all;
At its outer edges, the sea
Pours the calm of sleep on each soul...
“There, women are lovely, tender, nocturnal, pure.
Over their eyes your sadnes hovers,
They are all sisters or lovers:
The tearful kisses on their lips can cure,
And the indigo quiet of their inquiring eyes
Can soothe the heart's suffering.
Their souls are violets
Distilled from the night of despair,
In a ceaseless search for silence and repose.
The dim glare from the moon's sorrows
Finds haven in their immaculate hands.
“Ah, they are so frail-
The mute anguish they share,
The night deep in thought, the ailing sea ...
They all resemble each other there.
Is on which imaginary continent, and
Dimmed by what distant river?
Is it a land of illusions- or real,
A utopia bound to remain unknown forever?
“I do not know ... All I know is
You and I and the blue sea
And the dusk that vibrates in me
The strings of inspiration and agony,
Torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway
We are forever doomed to this exile here. — Ahmet Hasim (1884-1933) [Source: Translated by Talat Sait Halman
Nâilî: What witch are you
“What witch are you, that entangles our hearts in your curls? You are a gazelle who sets traps in the holy sanctuary of the Kaaba
“Your lashes are Tatar soldiers, and you the warlord, Hulagu Your reign has ravaged the country of the spirit, the Baghdad of the heart
“Both Hizir and Jesus have sacrified themselves to the water of life of your lip You are the drink of water for which the soul of Alexander thirsts
“Oh my love, my sun, you are the adornment of the nine gardens of the skies You cannot be compared to the beloved's cheek, you are the wild rose that blooms alone
“Oh, Nâilî, the beloved's brows scowl with anger When you say of her mouth, it is as fine as the tip of her curl—
Image Sources: Wikimedia, Commons
Text Sources: Internet Islamic History Sourcebook: sourcebooks.fordham.edu “World Religions” edited by Geoffrey Parrinder (Facts on File Publications, New York); “ Arab News, Jeddah; Islam, a Short History by Karen Armstrong; A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani (Faber and Faber, 1991); Encyclopedia of the World Cultures edited by David Levinson (G.K. Hall & Company, New York, 1994). Encyclopedia of the World’s Religions” edited by R.C. Zaehner (Barnes & Noble Books, 1959); Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Geographic, BBC, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Smithsonian magazine, The Guardian, BBC, Al Jazeera, Times of London, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, Associated Press, AFP, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.
Last updated September 2018