From a Panegyric

By Baki,

Translated by Selim Güngörürler


O heart, imagine her ruby lips and hide at the secluded corner
Both make your self the ore of gems, be the gem of the ore miner

Fall into a wilderness tavern if grief is your revenue
Reside at the desolate nook, because again they shoved you

Boast with self praise if you’re in the depression guild
Be a man of arena, you signed up and entered the libertines’ field 

Let the waves of trouble come, let the times take their lot
Be the encompassing sea, the inner stress explore not

Let vulgar ignorants pretend to be humans in dignified garments of parade
Display your gem’s potential, enter the arena, be a bare blade

O heart, the morning wind again spoke of your reunion with her
For years you served, today is Eid, sacrifice yourself and defer




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.