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Walking in Cennet

Cennet Mağarası (grotto of heaven in near Narlıkuyu in Mersin Province)

This is probably Aşık İbreti’s most famous deyiş and the one that gives the title to collection of İbreti’s works prepared by Adil Ali Atalay (Vaktidolu) and published under the title İlme Değer Verdim by Can Yayınları in 1996. This title reflects the influence of the performed rather than the published version of the deyiş since the phrase  “ilme değer verdim” does not actually appear in the published text. The title given the lyric is ‘Gördümde geldim’ and the opening line is “ilme hizmet edip uykudan kalktım”. The popular version as recorded by Musa Eroğlu on his 1994 recording Yolver Dağlar sharpens the focus of the words reducing the verses from five to three (a common performance practice) singing only the first and last two verses. A number of changes are made to the words in Eroğlu’s performance. Besides the small change from hizmet to değer in the opening line most notable changes are in the second last verse with the change of softa to yobaz which gives it a stronger invective and the substantially changed last two lines. The performed version has a somewhat more straightforward and clarifying sentiment replacing the original metonymical lines with  “cahil cühalaya edemem minnet / bütün zincirleri kırdımda geldim”.

Aşık İbreti whose real name was Hıdır Gürel (1920-1976) was one of the finest mid-twentieth century Alevi ozans and his lyrics are sharp, passionate and with a great feeling for the central place of the  human. Musa Eroğlu’s recording is worth a listening too and may surprise those looking for the exotic in Turkish music. The arrangement using bağlama, guitar and bass guitar is wonderfully engaging, appropriate and sympathetic to the lyric.

Note: I revised this translation in February 2018. Mostly some subtleties and refinements; not changes of substantive meaning.

Aşık İbreti: Gördümde geldim (İlme değer verdim)

Translation: Paul Koerbin

I gave myself to knowledge and awoke from sleep

I let go of the turban and the prayer mat

I was tired of the daily preaching of sermons

I came and tossed Ramadan to the torrent

As long as I was angry inside my grief increased

Listen, the matter of the Hajj was another worry

The rich were just about the only ones who went

I came and saw while they were stoning Satan

I placed the Four Books in a suspended bag

I ceased my interest in the heavenly Houris

I fell mute thinking – don’t believe the conjuring Hodja

I came to the point of giving them no attention

I don’t entertain the distractions of the next world

I have consideration for the concerns of humanity

For the illusion of heaven’s private garden

I came and banished the mob of bigots

Ibreti – my desire is service to humankind

My wife is my Houri, my home is my heaven

There remains no obligation to the Hajji and the Hodja

I came and broke the rosary and cruet


Original text from Aşık İbreti İlme Değer Verdim prepared by Adil Ali Atalay Vaktidolu (Can Yayınları, 1996)

İlme hizmet edip uykudan kalktım

Sarık, seccadeyi elden bıraktım

Vaizın her günkü vazından bıktım

Ramazanı sele verdim de geldim

Karnım acıktıkça kederim arttı

Hele hac kaygısı ayrı bir dertti

Paralılar hemen hac’ oldu gitti

Şeytanı taşlarken gördüm de geldim

Dört kitabı koyup torbaya astım

Cennet hurisinden ilgimi kestim

Muskacı hocaya sanmayın sustum

Ağzının payını verdim de geldim

Aklım ermez ahret eğlencesine

Saygım var insanın düşüncesine

Hayal cennetinin has bahçesine

Softa sürüsünü sürdüm de geldim

İbreti, emelim insana hizmet

Eşim bana huri, evim de cennet

Hacıya, hocaya kalmadı minnet

Irbığı, tesbihi kırdım da geldim