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View of Doğubeyazıt

View over Doğubeyazıt from the ancient fortress

This deyiş does not appear in the anthologies of Pir Sultan Abdal poems until Cahit Öztelli’s 1971 publication of the ‘complete poems’ (bütün şiirleri). That collection was indeed a more complete collection than earlier anthologies with 297 songs included. However later editions such as the massive work by Ali Haydar Avcı, now run to around 400 texts. The text was collected by the great Sivas folkorist İbrahim Aslanoğlu and was subsequently published in his 1984 book Pir Sultan Abdallar. Interestingly the song was actually recorded by a popular singer, Muazzez Türüng, for Odeon records in 1962 (and recently made available again by Odeon on its album of archival recordings called Harman).

The poem has more of the folksong quality about it and the theme of love, rather than the batınî mystical esoteric qualities of many of the lyrics attributed to Pir Sultan – and is thus somewhat easier to get an English translation. It is one of the Pir Sultan lyrics that so wonderfully evokes the Anatolian landscape, with the image of the nomads migrating across the high plateau. One of the main problems for tranlation include finding the right feel in English for the word suna which is a type of pheasant bird (or as Mehmet Özbek in his new dictionary of folksong terms Türkülerin Dili says, göl ördeği, lake duck). The bird is addressed personally in the song and I believe it needs to be retained in the translation; but a translation like ‘my duck’ is not going to work in English. I have used ‘pheasant’ which is not much better but have added ‘little’ so as to emphasise the intimacy of the conversation and the estrangement of the singer. The second last line of the last verse is also a little problematic in regard to getting the nuances. The word nimet can mean ‘favour’ or ‘blessing’ but also ‘food’ or ‘bread’. The latter would work very well with the verb used (yemek meaning ‘to eat’) but I’m not convinced this is the sense intended; and yemek can also act as an auxillary verb without its literal meaning of ‘to eat’. The last word in this line, helallaşalım, translates well enough as ‘let us fogive all’ but it implies mutal forgiveness and even has the sense of ‘last rites’ as in someone dying. Though tempted I have chosen not to emphasise that finality in the translation. This song was a favourite of a good friend of mine and confessed it sometimes brought him to tears to hear it or play it.

Şu karşı yaylada göç katar katar

Translation: Paul Koerbin

On the high lands opposite they depart in lines

The love of a beauty fumes in my mind

This separation is worse than death to me

It has passed, the beloved caravan, don’t delay me

The one that I love sits at the head

This pain of that beauty destroys me

This separation brings a cruelty upon me

It has passed, the beloved caravan, don’t delay me

If I disappear, my little pheasant, don’t weep for me

Don’t burn my heart in love’s fire

Don’t take love from me to bind to some other

It has passed, the beloved caravan, don’t delay me

If I go let this land be your home

Let the wolf at the hypocrites among us

If I die let the pain be in that one’s heart

It has passed, the beloved caravan, don’t delay me

I am Pir Sultan Abdal let us pass over mountains

Let us pass and come to the loved one’s land

I have had much of your favour let us forgive all

It has passed, the beloved caravan, don’t delay me


Original text (from Cahit Öztelli Pir Sultan Abdal Bütün Şiirleri)


Şu karşı yaylada göç katar katar

Bir güzel sevdası serimde tüter

Bu ayrılık bana ölümden beter

Geçti dost kervanı eğleme beni

Şu bemin sevdiğim başta oturur

Bir güzelin derdi beni bitirir

Bu ayrılık bana zulüm getirir

Geçti dost kervanı eğleme beni

Ben gidersem sunam bana ağlama

Ciğerimi aşk oduna dağlama

Benden başkasına meyil bağlama

Geçti dost kervanı eğleme beni

Gider isem bu il sana yurt olsun

Munafıklar aramıza kurt olsun

Ben ölürsem yüreğine dert olsun

Geçti dost kervanı eğleme beni

Pir Sultan Abdal’ım dağlar aşalım

Aşalım da dost iline düşelim

Çok nimetin yedim helallaşalım

Geçti dost kervanı eğleme beni