Irog: A Translation of Baki’s “Ah Dear”

(Certain engagements related to teaching have made me forget that the Philippines has already started the Buwan ng Wika. But it is a fortunate coincidence that one of these engagements has led me to explore Ottoman poetry. One of the most influential poets in Turkish Literature was Mahmud Abdulbaki, better known as Baki. He lived during the height of the Ottoman Empire, and his works were the articulation of that golden age of decadent expression. An intimate friend of Suleiman the Magnificent, he was himself called “The Sultan of Poets.” The poem below was taken from this blog, which has lovely translations of poems in different languages. It has been titled “Ah Dear,” although it is not clear where this piece appears in Baki’s body of work.  Like in my past attempts to translate works of languages I do not speak, I relied on an English translation in this one, and as such I cannot say I captured the nuances of every word in the original Ottoman Turkish. But the striking images of the poem, I believe, are powerful enough to cross languages. I also saw these images as more important than the rhyme)

Ezelden şâh-ı aşkın bende-i fermânıyüz cânâ
Mahabbet mülkünün sultânı âlî-şânıyüz cânâ

Sehâb-ı lutfun âbın teşne-dillerden dirîğ itme
Bu deştin bağrı yanmış lâle-i Nu’mânıyüz cânâ

Zemâne bizde cevher sezdiğiyçün dil-hırâş eyler
Anınçün bağrımız hûndur ma’ârif kânıyüz câna

Mükedder kılmasun gerd-i küdûret çeşme-i canı
Bilürsün âb-ı rûy-i mülket-i Osmâniyüz cânâ

Cihanı câm-ı nazmım şi’r-i Bakî gibi devr eyler
Bu bezmin şimdi biz de Câmi-i devrânıyüz cânâ

Translation by A. Z. Foreman
I have bowed down since time began to passion’s Shah, my dear.
Love’s legendary sultanate obeys our law, my dear.

The grief-scorched heart lies red and black: a poppy in the wasteland.
Rain like a bounteous cloud and slake the parched heart’s shaw, my dear.
Fate saw the jewel in me, and pawed the heart apart to have it,
Leaving a bleeding body mined of love and raw, my dear.

Do not let turbid sadness taint the waters of your fountain.
All faces gleam for us, the Ottoman world’s awe, my dear.

Bâkî’s turned verse goes round the world: a wine-bowl among friends.
Time turns to us to fill its cup. What wines we draw, my dear!

Sa simula pa lang ay alipin na ako ng Sahe ng sidhi, o irog
Sinusunod ng sultanato ng pag-ibig ang ating batas, o irog.

Pula’t itim ang pusong napaso sa hinagpis: amapula sa kalandayan.
Umulan ka’t pawiin ang uhaw ng masitasan niyaring puso, o irog.

Nakita ng tadhana ang hiyas sa akin, at hinukay pabungkal itong puso,
Iniwan ang duguang katawang kay hapdi’t kinabkaban ng pag-ibig, o irog.

Wag hayaang bahiran ng lubog na kalungkutan ang tubig ng iyong sagidlisan
Gumigilak ang lahat sa atin, ang kagalakan nitong mundong Otomano, o irog.

Lilibot ang balak ni Baki sa mundo: pinaiikot na tagay sa mga kainuman
Inaabot ng panahon ang kalis niya’t pinasasalin. Anong alak ang atin, o irog!

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