MUHAMMED SULEYMAN OGLU FUZULI

fuzuliIntroduction

Fuzuli: Muhammed Suleyman Oglu Fuzuli, the great exponent of the court or Divan school of Ottoman poetry, was born around 1494 in what was then part of the Safavid (Persian) Empire and is now northern Iraq. His nome de plume means presumption /virtue/perfection, and Fuzuli was indeed an ambitious man, proud of his versatility in Azeri (a Turkish dialect), Arabic and Persian.

His three great collections (Divans) are in these languages, but the most famous is the 4,000 couplet-long rendering of the Middle East favourite Leili and Mejnun in Azeri Turkish. Though outwardly a sentimental tale of thwarted passion, Islamic writers have created a philosophical and dramatic exploration of love in all its mystical and worldly forms, celebrated as much in dance and painting as in literature. Reputation notwithstanding, Fuzuli himself lived in continual want, and died of cholera in Kerbela in 1556.

The Ottomans were one of the many Turkoman peoples who migrated into Anatolia (eastern Turkey) from the 11h century A.D. They gradually converted to Islam, and created an empire that stretched from Azerbaijan to Algeria. Until the nineteenth century, when writers turned to Europe for inspiration, Turkish poetry belonged to three great schools. The court or Divan school modelled itself on Arabic and Persian, often Persianizing Turkish words in the process. The Tekke or religious poetry was written in theological centres, being best known in the west through the mysticism of Rumi (1207-73). Folk poetry drew its inspiration from pre-Islamic traditions, and is still continued by countless storytellers. Fuzuli was only one of a galaxy of outstanding Divan poets, women included Baqi, Sultan Suleyman, Hayali, Tashcali Yahya Bey, Ruhi-i Baghdad, Naili, Nedim, Seyh Galip. Similar lists compiled for the other schools would at least mention Suleyman Celebi and Yunus Emre.

The problems of appreciating Ottoman poetry are those of any foreign culture: differences in outlook, history, tradition and verse forms. Since the Divan poets did not seek novelty or individual expression, moreover, their excellence lies in the depth to which they exploited Arabic and Persian forms which means that all-important subtleties are often lost in translation, one poet sounding like another. After 1923, and the importation of western ideas nationalism, surrealism, modernism Turkish poetry adopted the concerns of western literature, and its poets often read well in translation: Ahmet Hasim, Nazim Hikmet, Bedri Rahmi Eyubogl, Cahit Sitki Taranci, Behcet Necatigil, Ilhan Berk, Orhan Veli Nazim Hikmet and Cemal Sureya to name a few.

Recommended books include Penguin Book of Turkish Verse (1978), W.J.W. Gibb's A History of Ottoman Poetry (1900-09), W.G. Andrews's An Introduction to Ottoman Poetry (1976) and Poetry's Voice, Society's Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry (1985), and J. Goodwin's Lords of the Horizon: A History of the Ottoman Empire (2001).

SuggSuggestion: Music of a Distant Drum Princeton University Press. 2001. $24.95

Some 132 Middle Eastern poems selected and translated by Bernard Lewis. The poems date from the 7th to 18th centuries and give a fascinating insight into the Arabic, Persian, Turkish, and Hebrew cultures as they developed from pagan desert tribes to sophisticated city dwellers. Many favourites — Rumi, Omar Khayyam, etc. — but also poems that have rarely been translated before.

Learning Turkish

Turkish can be learnt from books, tapes and CDs, available at linguaphone and transparent language.

Free lessons and material are at practical turkish, turkishclass, and bab.la

Other works, dictionaries, etc. can be ordered through abebooks and alibris.

Turkish-English-Turkish online dictionaries are at: langtolang, hazar, selisozluk and ectaco.

Some useful language exchanges: friends abroad, xlingo, mylanguage exchange, polyglot learn language, and lingozone.

Turkish Poetry


Turkish poetry is translation is found at ottoman souvenir, turkce siir and turkish poetry in translation.

Recommended books include Penguin Book of Turkish Verse (1978), W.J.W. Gibb's A History of Ottoman Poetry (1900-09), W.G. Andrews's An Introduction to Ottoman Poetry (1976) and Poetry's Voice, Society's Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry (1985), and J. Goodwin's Lords of the Horizon: A History of the Ottoman Empire (2001)

Later Turkish poetry adopted the concerns of western literature, and its poets often read well in translation: Ahmet Hasim, Nazim Hikmet, Bedri Rahmi Eyubogl, Behcet Necatigil, and Nazim Hikmet to name a few.

Fuzuli

Fuzuli was only one of a galaxy of outstanding Divan poets, women included — Baqi, Sultan Suleyman, Hayali, Tashcali Yahya Bey, Ruhi-i Baghdad, Naili, Nedim, Seyh Galip. Similar lists compiled for the other schools would at least mention Suleyman Celebi and Yunus Emre.

 

 

C. John Holcombe   |  About the Author    | ©     2007 2012 2013 2015.   Material can be freely used for non-commercial purposes if properly referenced.