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A. Aykut, P. Koerbin, Dertli Divani, M. Kılçık. V. Ulusoy (Postnişin), Sydney 2007

This is one of the most well known and performed deyiş of Dertli Divani (real name Veli Aykut, born 1962 in Kısas near Şanlıurfa). Divani is arguably the most important living Alevi aşık and a remarkable individual who straddles, with ease, the worlds of the Alevi source culture and that of the modern recording artist. He is also tireless in his efforts to explain and promote an understanding of the true nature and spirit of Alevi culture to as wide an audience as possible. Divani is from dede lineage (his father is the late Aşık Büryani)  and leads cem services in Turkey (Kısas, Nurhak, Banaz) and throughout the world (Europe, North America and in Australia) and is the source and composer of many of the finest Alevi lyrics of the last quarter century. Though clearly he has the ambition to make Alevi culture widely understood his lyrics are still deeply mystical and present challenges for the translator, even more overtly social lyrics such as this one.

This deyiş is somewhat remarkable for the fact that it has a refrain (bağlantı) that introduces new text – many deyiş when sung introduce refrains though more commonly they are repetitions of the words of the verses. Adding to the interesting form is the fact that the verses are in 8 syllable metre while the refrain is in 11 syllable metre. While I generally aim to translate deyiş line by line, in this case it is necessary in some parts to treat two lines together for the purpose of coherence in the translation. Another difficulty was what to do with the “ne … ne” construction particularly in the first refrain. This construction normally means “neither … nor” though the conjuctions are usually placed before the words to which they refer, not after them as in this lyric. For this reason I have read “ne” in this instance as its other meaning of “what” which makes more sense in the theme of the lyric. In the last refrain I was tempted to use the word “wayfarer” for “yolcu” to pick up on the assonance of the Turkish, as in “the wayfarer who does not take the way” – but I did not completely convince myself of the desirability of this. I did, however, for good or ill, fall for the use of “hence”, in its archaic mean of “from here/this” for a translation of “bundan“.

Divani recorded the lyric on his album Serçeşme and in a repeat of the third line of the second verse he replaces “yârin” (beloved) with “pirin” (spiritual guide) as he does also in this live performance of the deyiş.  The text given below is from Kısaslı Aşıklar by Halil Atılgan published in Şanlıurfa in 1992. The text printed in the CD/cassette booklet for Serçeşme is the same. Curiously in a later publication by Atılgan (with Mehmet Acet) titled Harran’da Bir Türkmen Köyü Kısas published by the T.C. Kültür Bakanlığı in 2001, the last line includes an odd reading (or editorial mistake) contracting “Şaha ne” to “şahane” (royal, regal, magnificent).

Update #1: Again my most dedicated reader, Olga, has made some very pertinent and helpful comments (see comments section). She has articulated the theme of the lyric, which I completely agree with. She also, most usefully, notes the misreading in regards to “sana ne bana ne“. As Olga notes this construction means “I/you don’t care” or as I would re-phrase it “what’s it to you, what’s it to me”. And of course this suggests an allusion to the aşık that Divani himself has said is one of his greatest influences, Aşık Daimi and his great lyric titled Bana Ne. Interestingly that lyric includes the mahlas form “Dertli Daimi” – the full line is “Dertli Daimi’yim yardır sevdiğim“. This form of the mahlas is very uncommon in Daimi’s lyrics. Is this a deliberate allusion by Dertli Divani? Also, as Olga notes, the last line of the lyric suggest the famous Pir Sultan Abdal cry  “Gelin canlar bir olalım” though that line can also be attributed to another great and influential Alevi poet Aşık Sıdkı, a poet who is also a strong influence on Dertli Divani. In revising some lines upon Olga’s suggestion, and my reluctance to use her suggestion of “pilgrim” for yolcu, I have given in to my original inclination and used ‘wayfarer’. And I removed my “hence” – a shame about that.

Dertli Divani: Diktiğimiz fidanlar

Translation: Paul Koerbin

We could not eat the fruit

Of the shoots we planted

Whatever was their fault

(Hold on tyrant!) we cannot say

So saying, what’s it to you and what’s it to me?

Thus we’re fodder for lord and master

The doctor caused my wound to smart

Inflamed by my sweet soul

The love of the beloved sets me

To wandering through foreign lands

I have been hurt by the hand of the blind ignorant friend

I have grown tired and disgusted with reproaches

Divani speaks freely of conceit

This ignorance casting us down

Hand to hand, heart to heart

Let us give and be as one

The uncommitted wayfarer is at fault with the way

And so, what concern for the subject one to the Sultan or Shah?


Original text from Kısalı Aşıklar by Halil Atılgan, Şanlıurfa, 1992

Diktiğimiz fidanların

Meyvasını yiyemedik

Ne suçu vardı onların

Dur be zalim diyemedik

Sana ne bana ne hep diye diye

Böylece yem olduk ağaya beye

Tabip yaramı azdırdı

Tatlı canımdan bezdirdi

Beni bir yârin sevdası

Diyar be diyar gezdirdi

Yanmışam kör cahil dostun elinden

Bıkmış usanmışam acı dilinden

Der Divani senlik benlik

Bizi yıkan bu cahillik

El ele gönül gönüle

Verelim olalım birlik

Yolcu yola gitmez yola bahane

Bundan kula Sultana ne Şaha ne