Pick Section 1.Intro 2.Life 3.Legends 4.Metaphys. 5.Why 6.Humanism 7.Contemp. 8.Last 9.Bibl. Maximize Your Browser


God permeates the whole wide world,
Yet his truth is revealed to none.
You better seek Him in yourself,
You and He aren't apart - you're one.

Tens of books have been written about Yunus Emre's poetry, his metaphysics, his philosophy and other aspects of his works. Here I will quote one his most frequently recited pieces for examination:

A$kIn aldI benden beni
Bana seni gerek seni
Ben yanarIm dUnU gUnU
Bana seni gerek seni

Ne varlIGa sevinirim
Ne yokluGa yerinirim
A$kIn ile avunurum
Bana seni gerek seni

A$kIn a$Iklar OldUrUr
A$k denizine daldIrIr
Tecelli ile doldurur
Bana seni gerek seni

A$kIn $arabIndan iCem 
Mecnun olup daGa dU$em
Sensin dUnU gUn endi$em
Bana seni gerek seni

SUfilere sohbet gerek
Ahilere ahret gerek
Mecnunlara Leyla gerek
Bana seni gerek seni

EGer  beni OldUrseler
KUlUm gOGe savuralar
TopraGIm ana CagIra
Bana seni gerek seni

Yunus'durur benim adIm
GUn   geCtikCe artar odum
Iki cihanda maksudum
Bana seni gerek seni

Your love has wrested me away from me,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave
Day and night I burn, gripped by agony,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

I find no great joy being alive,
If I cease to exist, I would not grieve,
The only solace I have is your love,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

Lover yearn for you, but your love slays them,
At the bottom of the sea it lays them,
It has God's images - it displays them,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

Even if, at the end they make me die
And scatter my ashes up to the sky,
My pit would break into this outcry:
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

Let me drink the wine of love sip by sip,
Like Mecnun, live in the hills in hardship,
Day and night, care for you holds me in its grip,
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

'Yunus Emre the mystic' is my name,
Each passing day fans and rouses my flame,

What I desire in both worlds is the same:
You're the one I need, you're the one I crave

One constant theme in Yunus' poetry is Love, that of God for man and, therefore, of man for God. Yunus' love is the most powerful of everything, it is for the creator of the universe but it is also the creator, it is fierce and burning, consuming Yunus' mere existence. Yunus is like Mecnun, "the mad man of Love" who suffered , appear to have gone mad, and died just for the love of Leyla. Yunus wants to be as drunk, i.e. mad, as Mecnun, for his Love which wounds him terribly. For Yunus external forms of religion are not important and reward and punishment are not of concern; he only cares for God, yearns of his Love. The world is temporary and even when he dies, even when he is killed like the martyr of love Hallaj (Yunus refers to him in various other pieces of poetry), whatever is left of him will be yearning for God. Yunus can argue with God that His Love is killing people, making them suffer enormously, he seems to complain of his unjust treatment, but regardless, his love is so great that he can not help yearning for Him. He believes that he existed with God before there was existence. Ofcourse, he is no different than God:

I was a star for a long time;
in the skies the angels were desirous [of me].
The all-compelling God commanded;
I was There then.

Before I was in this form,
when my name was not Yunus,
I was He, He was I,
I was with the one who offered this love.

Yunus is hinting at a common Sufi theme of the existence of the Saints during the primordial time. Yunus is a perfect-man himself who was with the Creator before the Creation. He shared the divine knowledge with God. This idea is revealed more clearly in the following verses:

Before the created universe came here,
Before the skies were filled with angels,
Before this realm had a foundation,
I was with the creator of the Domain.

He is not content to make this shocking statement; he calls everyone else to accept it also:

If you don't identify Man as God,
All your learning is of no use at all.

Yunus in fact refers to the idea of "vahdet'i vucut" , unity of being, which is a common theme on Sufi mysticism. He adheres to most of the common , dominant ideas of Sufism, as can clearly be seen from these pieces of poetry and his other works. What is different and most striking in Yunus is his use of the simple Turkish of his time - which could still be understood and appreciated quite easily by a modern Turkish speaker, and his outstanding humanism. It is the second aspect which primarily interests us here which certainly is not separate from his use of folk language.

Fig: A Hat (Caligraphy) Example From A Book on Yunus' Poetry


Written by Turgut Durduran , durduran@force.stwing.upenn.edu.
All Rights Reserved. Please refer to Bibliography section for sources used here.
Comments are welcome, please drop a line.