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Benim Pirim facimileThis is a very challenging deyiş (nefes in the manuscript) to translate to English, so this must really be a work in progress. An interesting lyric because it comes from the the early 17th manuscript of the  Menâkıbu’l-Esrâr Behcetü’l-Ahrâr of Bisâtî (published in facsimile and modern transcription by Ahmet Taşğın in 2003). Interestingly, I have not found this text in any of the major collections of Pir Sultan Abdal poems. I have reproduced the transcription which does not adhere strictly to modern Turkish orthography. Given that this is one of the oldest recorded texts for a Pir Sultan lyric, we may reasonably look at it as carrying something of the original voice. The lyric, like much mystical poetry, shows a lot or paratactic elements (adding to the difficulty in achieving translation sense) and lacks some of the elements associated with lyrics that have been longer in the oral tradition, such as the repetition of lines (usually the last line in the quatrain). In this case we only get the repeated ‘cümle müşkillere yeter sabahdan’ in two verses. The translation tries to draw the essential character and meaning from the lyric, though may be uncertain in places. I found most difficulty in getting a satisfactory translation of the line ‘felek bir iş bişirmiş diyar gel ha ic‘ and I suspect the line ‘akceyi virirler gene akcesiye‘ may be proverbial, though I have not found a good English equivalent.  I have translated talib as ‘one who seeks’ rather than the simple noun ‘student’ as providing a better sense of the personal in the lyric (and perhaps to avoid other modernday confusions). The word ‘gün‘, the common word for day, also has meanings (particularly in older usage and poetry) of  ‘sun’ and ‘light’. Consequently I have used various aspects of this meaning in the translation. The image, taken from Taşğın’s book, is of the original text in the manuscript.

Benim pîrim Şah-ı Merdân Ali’dir

Translation: Paul Koerbin

My master saint is the Shah Ali

Send your greeting by the moon at dawn

I dare to strive to be as my saint

I pray to my saint with the morning light

Evening time and the sun recedes to the land

The one who is seeking worships his saint

Two in companionship one for each other

Enough for all hardships come the morning

Our eye to the ground  fixes on the coin

They give coin again for the coin itself

The nightingale settles in the garden before


With the morning the sun sheds it tears

Two pearls grow in the ocean depths

A pearl in part jewel in part shell

We take refuge with our Shah Ali

Enough for all hardships come the morning

A fateful work ripens the land, come and drink

Work a hundred years,  it is little in the end

That world of halting and moving on

I am Pir Sultan, he passed once with the morning


Original text from the Şeyh Sâfî Buyruğu (Menâkıbu’l-Esrâr Behcetü’l-Ahrâr) of Bisâtî edited by Ahmet Taşğın, Ankara 2003:

Benim pîrim Şah-ı Merdân Ali’dir

Selâmını göndür bedr-i sabahdan

Ben tâlibim ne haddim var pîr olam

Pîre duâcıyım her gün sabahdan

Ahşam oldı günde gitti yerine

Tâlib olan kulluk eyler pîrine

İki musâhibde biri birine

Cümle müşkillere yeter sabahdan

Bizim yerde göz dikerler akceye

Akceyi virirler gene akcesiye

Seher vakti bilbül konar bakceye

Göz yaşını gün döker sabahdan

Deryalarda biter iki dürdane

Biri gevher biri sedef biri dürdane

Biz de sığınmısız Şah-ı Merdâna

Cümle müşkillere yeter sabahdan

Felek bir iş bişirmiş diyar gel ha ic

Yüz yıl calış aziş ahir sonı hiç

Şu dünya kona kondur göce göc

Pîr Sultanım gecdi bir gün sabahdan