Elegy to Sultan Suleiman Khan (the Magnificent)

By Baki,

Translated by Selim Güngörürler


Like a tender petal, he graciously laid down his face into rest
The treasurer of time released him, like a gem, into chest

Truly, he was the adoration and ornament of dignity
He was a monarch with Alexander’s crown and Darius’s soldiery

The heavens used to bow down before his feet’s dust
For the world, prostrating the earth of his court was must
Though to the verdict of fate he gave consent
He was the monarch of fateful potency and extent

Don’t presume he failed before the vile heavens helplessly
To dwell next to God, pomp he quit selflessly

The people’s eyes fill when they look at the sun
For its sight reminds, that moon-faced is gone
The steed of the quarrelsome fortune did rebel
On the ground, the Shadow of the Almighty fell


The day is up, won’t the king of the universe wake from sleep
Won’t he make an appearance from the tent of heavens-keep

Dry-lipped he lies, whither did the color of his cheeks depart
As if from the rose-water the rose is drifted apart

O Emperor! For the skies, a veil the clouds became
Commemorating your grace, in veil they sweat out of shame



Baki (alternatively spelled Baqi) is the pen name of the Ottoman Turkish poet Mahmud Abdülbaki. One of the greatest lyric poets in the Ottoman Turkish poetic tradition, in his lifetime he earned the sobriquet Sultânüş-şuarâ (سلطان الشعرا) or the “Sultan of poets.” In addition to his poetry, as a religious scholar he held a number of positions, usually that of qadi, in the Ottoman bureaucracy and even unsuccessfully aspired for the position of şeyhülislam (شيخ الإسلام). In addition to his ghazals, he is well known for the elegy he wrote upon the death of his benefactor,  Kanunî Sultan Süleyman (Suleiman the Magnificent), which is considered to be his masterpiece.


Born in Izmir, Selim Güngörürler obtained his PhD from Georgetown University. After working in Washington DC, Vienna, and Berlin, he is currently employed at Boğaziçi University as researcher. Although he studies and publishes on diplomatic history, he is on a constant lookout for time and opportunities to put to use his fondness for literature, particularly Persian and Turkish poetry. He is concerned that eventually, his urge to read, teach, and translate verse might also claim the time with which he makes a living from historiography.