I have already posted an English version of Nimri Dede’s İnsan Olmaya Geldim as recorded by Arif Sağ which includes some word changes from Nimri Dede’s original and omits two verses. Here then is a translation of the original complete version with the original refrain line ‘…de ben Mevlana oldum da geldim‘ rather than ‘…de ben bir insan olmaya geldim‘, some other relatively small word changes and the two missing verses. The fifth verse (one of the verses omitted by Sağ) does pose some translation challenges, partly because of parataxis and partly because of the deft way Nimri Dede has divided Aşık Sarıcakız’s mahlas over the third and fourth lines. I am not yet convinced of my rendering of this verse. This verse, perhaps, also gives a clue to the inspiration for this deyiş – was it composed upon hearing Aşık Sarıcakız (real name İlkin Manya), a renowned female ozan/aşık? We are fortunate to finally have a published collection of Nimri Dede’s deyişler prepared by Professor Dr Ahmet Buran published in Elazığ in 2006 by Manas Yayıncılık. However the version of this song included in that book has a small error in the first line of the second verse where ‘meğer‘ should read ‘meğerse‘ in order to fill the syllable count requirement of the koşma form. In a typescript provided to me by Nimri Dede’s grandson, Sercihan Dehmen, the correct form is given (see image below).
Nimri Dede: Özde ben Mevlana oldum da geldim
Translation: Paul Koerbin
I cast out this filthy duality from within me,
In the true self I came to become Master
Since established in the heart of the mystics
In the word I have come to become Master
Whatever love is, it is the essence of the soul;
The direction to it lies between the eyes.
The work of truth is the tint of strength.
In the face I have come to become Master
What all the teachers have described;
The halting place that the true ones have reached;
Where the Prophets and Saints have gone;
In the footsteps I have come to become Master
Those seeking Truth found it in the heart
Truth overflowed the heart and filled the world
All faces became the mirror of me
In you I have come to become Master
I have a garden clean of every thorn
They entered and trampled until rent in half
Her eyes closed, in Aşık Sarıca
Kız I have come to become Master
At times I have examined and been examined
How many years I have been attached to a noose;
In a manner I have set alight that love and been set alight;
In the ashes I have come to become Master
At last I have come, drinking the wine of love.
Every bit of whiteness I have selected from the darkness.
I pierced the mountains of existence and passed over;
On the level I have come to become Master
See then what Nimri Dede now has done:
Of the true love to every heart he has sung;
He has at last bid farewell to wine and whatever
On the lute I have come to become Master
Original version from typscript provided by Sercihan Dehmen