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.”

Websites and Resources: Ottoman Empire and Turks: The Ottomans.org theottomans.org ; Ottoman Text Archive Project – University of Washington courses.washington.edu ; Wikipedia article on the Ottoman Empire Wikipedia ; Encyclopædia Britannica article on the Ottoman Empire britannica.com ; American Travelers to the Holy Land in the 19th Century Shapell Manuscript Foundation shapell.org/historical-perspectives/exhibitions ; Ottoman Empire and Turk Resources – University of Michigan umich.edu/~turkis ; Turkey in Asia, 1920 wdl.org ; Wikipedia article on the Turkish People Wikipedia ; Turkish Studies, Turkic republics, regions, and peoples at University of Michigan umich.edu/~turkish/turkic ; Türkçestan Orientaal's links to Turkic languages users.telenet.be/orientaal/turkcestan ; Turkish Culture Portal turkishculture.org ; ATON, the Uysal-Walker Archive of Turkish Oral Narrative at Texas Tech University aton.ttu.edu ; The Horse, the Wheel and Language, How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes shaped the Modern World", David W Anthony, 2007 archive.org/details/horsewheelandlanguage ; Wikipedia article on Eurasian nomads Wikipedia

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."

Turkish Poetry

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.

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.

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...

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

Dede Korkut

“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)

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.

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!

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


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

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.


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. —Fuzuli

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

Yunus Emre

“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.

“Twenty-eight syllables
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.

“Neither you
Nor I
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.

“Mankind today
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,
Far away
Torn asunder from the land where blue shadows hold sway,
We are forever doomed to this exile here.

“That land?
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.

“That land
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,
Far away
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— “54. Nâilî

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

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