A Short Instruction in the Past of Bosnia and Hercegovina|
SAFVET BEG BASAGIC-REDZEPASIC
Kratka uputa u proslost Bosne i Hercegovine 1463-1850
A Short Instruction in the Past of Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1463-1850 (Kratka Uputa u Proslost Bosne i Hercegovine); Sarajevo: Vlastita Naklada, 1900, Safvet beg Basagic Redzepasic
Introduction: Safvet beg Basagic Redzepasic, born in 1870 in the Hercegovinian town of Nevesinje, is one of the most prominent figures of turn-of-the-century Bosnia. Raised in a family that emphasized literary and artistic values (his father was one of the last Bosnian poets writing in Turkish and his maternal ancestor Smail Aga Cengic is a legendary Bosnian figure), young Safvet developed an appreciation for literature and languages, especially those of the Near East. His love for the literary arts remained the chief mark of his life, which is filled with a variety of accomplishments. As a youth he composed poetry and studied Islamic literature at the University of Vienna, while simultaneously promoting the interests of the Bosniak community. In 1900 he co-founded the "Behar" newspaper and taught Arabic at a high school in Sarajevo, in addition to writing his first work, A Short Instruction in the Past of Bosnia and Hercegovina, from where the following essay is taken. Later, while writing more poetry and scholarship, Basagic was active in three cultural societies, ("Gajret", "El-Kamer", and "Muslimanski Klub") which aimed to educate and make the Bosnian Muslims aware of their history and their political situation under the Habsburg rule. In 1910 he completed his dissertation, Bosniaks and Hercegovinians in the Field of Islamic Literature, at the University of Vienna and received the doctoral degree in Islamic languages (ex linguis islamicis).
In the same year his career took a turn into politics, as Basagic quickly advanced from being a representative to the Bosnian Parliament (Sabor) to presiding over that body. The First World War, however, abruptly ended his pursuit of politics and Basagic returned to cultural concerns, working as a curator at the State Museum and writing fiction, literary criticism and numerous studies. His personal collection of rare Islamic manuscripts, which now resides at the University Library in Bratislava, was recently nominated for safeguarding of documentary heritage under UNESCO protection. He died in Sarajevo in 1934 and left behind him an impressive legacy of literature (including poetry, prose and drama), cultural and social critique, and scholarly works.
The essay below is an appendix from Basagic's first historical study, Kratka uputa u proslost Bosne i Hercegovine (1900). In style and content, the essay "Herceg Bosnia and Eastern Scholarship" is characteristic of Basagic's scholarly work, which is chiefly marked by appreciation for Bosnia's Ottoman and Islamic cultural heritage and by concern over uniting the best qualities of "the East and the West" in Bosnia. Basagic's early works are also indicative of larger concerns of the Bosnian Muslim community at the turn of the century.
Any mistakes in the translation are entirely mine - please notify me (email email@example.com) of any errors, comments, or suggestions. Due to the restrictions of the html format, I have omitted diacritical marks and footnotes. Because of the inherent difficulty in translating poetry, I have decided to leave the verses untranslated, so they appear here in Bosnian (as translated by Basagic). Enjoy.
When I finished this little piece about the heroic past of Bosnia and Hercegovina, it immediately came to my mind that I had forgotten to point out yet another thing; namely, how much Eastern scholarship pervaded our lands. In great scarcity of facts, it is very difficult to write about this; but remembering the old adage, "It's better to write something than to write nothing at all," I decided to say something about those men from our lands, who were known as great scholars, or who as poets left a memorable name in the Eastern Parnassus. Our grandfathers knew not only how to debate with diplomats and make use of weapons, but also, like the famous Eastern scholars, how to write great works about sundry subjects or how to compose delightful poems and beautiful ghazels in the Persian and Turkish languages. With this I want to say to certain people, to get out of their heads the usual prejudices that our fathers were unfamiliar with culture. They accomplished, I can freely say, in the field of Eastern [scholarship] as much as our neighbors did for Western learning.
Through history, these are our great compatriots: great viziers, viziers and pashas, highly educated people in various Eastern disciplines, good friends well-versed in Arabic, Persian and Turkish literature - because such high honors they could not achieve without higher education, and for this assertion the best proof is that they always associated with renowned ulema and promoted learning at all times. Enough indication are the numerous songs of praise and various erudite works dedicated to them, in which they are described as friends of scholars and poets.
As Mahmud Pasha Jankovic [Adnija] is the head figure to all viziers from our lands, to scholars and poets so is Adni (his pseudonym).
Because after the Battle of Kosovo (1389), the lands of Bosnia, Hercegovina, Slavonia and Dalmatia stood against the attacks of the Turkish forces, several times the Turkish raiders forayed into our area and with them took slaves across the border. In one such event, the sultan's dignitary Mehmed-aga brought from our lands three children, which he raised at his expense. In time, these youth acquired such education that during the reign of sultan Fatih they played significant roles among the distinguished sages, whom the learned sultan summoned from across the Islamic world.
When Murat II found out that Mehmed-aga has a talented youth from a noble Croatian family, [Murat] took him into the sultan's court and entrusted the youth as a friend to his son and successor Mehmed II, with whom Mahmud remained an inseparable friend until death, which struck him in his eighty-second year on August 27, 1474.
Adnija (Mahmut-pasha) was, as known from reliable sources, such an enlightened person that he could debate even among the most advanced scholars. Here is what Asik-Celebi says about him in "Teskiretus-suara": "There was rarely anyone in the Ottoman Empire as just as he (Adnija) - [Asaf] similar vizier and noble dignitary. In integrity, justice, benevolence, and keenness - according to the opinion of the critics, no one equal to him ever sat in the chair of the vizier. He was eager to read everything, to comprehend many branches of knowledge in order to gain profound understanding. In public affairs he always stood on the side of justice and soberly performed his duty, and that is why the sultan left to him all the duties of the state. There remains behind him divans, many praised poems and poetic verses.
After that, he lists the three beginning verses of three poems, which sound like this in translation:
Ta smiluj se na te suze -
Drobni biser moga oka!
Znas, da zenski soluf pada
Od pogleda - od uroka?
Znam ja, duso, sto skrivas svoga lica krase;
Jer vjetru bez zastora svijece se gase
Dok god gledam anber-soluf
Sto se po tvom gjulu svija,
Mislim, da se, sto misk sipa,
Po has-basci seta zmija
Ja sam prosac dragoj, koju
Danicino lice krasi,
Sto no, kad pred sunce stane,
Mjesecevo svjetlo gasi.
In the last verse there is a real play on words ("Musteri" means both suitor and Mart).
That much about him, now let's see what happened to his other two friends. One was renowned in the educated world under the name of Abdulkerim, the other under the name Ajas. After juridical sciences, which he received in Mehmed-aga's home from a special instructor, Abdulkerim was taught by the eminent ulema Dosija and Adzem Sinan, who were at the time lauded in the east as the greatest sages. After that, he was a muderis in various medresas, and when sultan Fatih conquered Istanbul, he built for him a great medresa, in which Abdulkerim, in front of numerous highly educated listeners, lectured about various branches of knowledge. He was for some time kazi-asker (minister of law), and then, after Fahruddin Adzemija, became the mufti of Istanbul until his death, which struck him during the reign of Bajezid II.
They say that Mahmud-pasha respected and loved him very much, not just as a compatriot, but also as a scholar and consultant, who helped him in everything and saved him from drunkenness, to which Mahmud succumbed in his youth. During the reign of Bayezid II, there emerged one legal sharia question which not even the sejluh-islam could not answer; but our Mevlan Abdulkerim solved it in such an enlightened way to the amazement of all scholars.
With writing he did not deal much. He composed only "Telvih" hasija (hasija is a work where thoughts and reflections about a book from any area of literature are presented; to some extent it corresponds to a broad critique), "Mutalea" hasija, Sejjid Serif's and Kessaf hasija.
Mevlan Ajas once jokingly said to Mahmud-pasha and Abdulkerim:
"Do you remember when we left our homeland, both of you were on one side of a horse, and I was on the other; yet still you could not pull me off balance; in the same way, in sciences, both of you cannot pull me down." This Ajas received his higher education from Mevlan Ajaslog and finally from the famous scholar Hidr-beg in Bursa. He came into the public affairs as the teacher of Mehmed II and Fatih, while he was still the expected heir to the throne. The coming of Ajas's science (mystical philosophy) deeply cuts into the public and private life of this energetic Alosmanovic. All Fatih's undertakings are closely connected with Ajas's scholarship, without which the mystical behavior and life of this peculiar man cannot be understood. Later, Ajas came to Aribillah-sheyh Tadzuddin, from whom he received the sanction to teach other the secrets of dervishes. For home he chose Bursa, where he, removed from the worldly din, spent his entire life in devotion.
Writing did not interest him much, but he could not resist it nonetheless. He cleansed the Arabic science of understanding the Qur'an of Persian expressions, which over time slipped into the Arabic literature; besides that he wrote hasijas on various learned subjects and rated them with his scientific knowledge. With that he gained the most fame. He died during Bayezid's rule, respected and loved by the ruler and the poor.
What a strange destiny! When our three young boys left their homeland riding in one saddle, what did they think about their future? Who would have thought that each one of them awaited a high calling in foreign lands, in an entirely unfamiliar world - and with those callings came all the riches and glory with which they filled the whole East. There is no doubt that all three were convinced that through their entire lives they would remain slaves to the mad Turk, but not even imagining that providence had destined the first one to be a statesman and military leader, the second a great scholar and judge, and the third a famous theosophe and expert in Arabic learning - of the most powerful and most enlightened state of the time.
After them emerged to the surface the poet Ali-beg Hercegovic, the grandson of herceg Stjepan Vukcic-Kosac and sultan Fatih Alosmanovic. We know about his life that for quite some time he was the main gatekeeper at Suleyman's court, then he was a governor in the province, where death struck him at a mature age. Ali-beg was known in the Eastern Parnassus under the name Siri (Lavski). About his poetic works we know from the notes in "Teskitur Suara," where it states that his poems were not bad, part of which were presented, and which Asik Celebi supported. Here is a partial translation:
Rad bih vigjet: onom suncu
Da l' nebeski mjesec slici?
Da l' cu moc na luku aha -
U plavo se nebo dici?
Cujes, srce, ne varaj se
Na prciju niska sv'jeta!
Sta Karunu hazne hasne,
Kada mu je spomen kleta?
Shortly after Hercegovic, a young Bosniak Ahmed-efendi stepped into the scholarly circles; in the flower of his youth he became a well-known muderis and in his thirtieth year he served at Efdalija, one of the first medresas in Istanbul. Because of a special talent in rhetoric, people always pointed him out. He was also known as a calligrapher and even far more renowned as an expert in Arabic studies.
Two small books, "Concerning the Pen" and "Concerning the Sword," it is said, were very eruditely written. Besides that he wrote a hasija about the famous work "Mula-Dzamija." Much was expected of him, but suddenly unmerciful death cut his life short in the midst of his mature age in the month of redzab 980 (1572).
A contemporary of Ahmed-efendi was Sudi-efendi, who was born in Sudici, a village in the Sarajevo valley. He learned his sciences in Istanbul and in Diari-Bekir from the eminent expert of Persian, Muslihuddin Larija. After finishing his studies, he became a muderis in Istanbul and shortly thereafter was a teacher in Sarajevo's Atmejdan, where he educated devshirme boys for the sultan's court, which had many of our compatriots, as we've already seen. At that service death caught him in the year 1000 (1591).
He was most widely known as an excellent expert and interpreter of Persian literature, which he proved with the comprehensive commentaries about the famous Dzelaluddin Rumi's mystical work "Mesnevija," about Hafiz's "Divan" (a collection of poems), and about Sadi's "Gjulistan" (Rose-Garden) and "Bositan" (Garden). With profound wisdom and a deft pen he defeated all the previous critics Semi, Suri, Lami and others. Even though some new Turkish commentators, not knowing that the Persian nation belongs to the Aryan group to which all Slavic peoples also belong, ironically criticize Sudi, "How could a Bosniak perfectly master Persian," they still must admit that most often they use his commentaries. Besides that he wrote a hasija about the "Hidajetul-hikmet" and translated from Arabic into Turkish "Cefi" and "Safi."
At that time lived yet another our compatriot by the name of Ali-Dede. He studied in Istanbul, where he joined a dervish order. On his way back from Mecca he came to Siget and lived there in the tekija near by the sultan Suleyman's grave, after which he was called "Turbe sejki."
When Mehmed-pasha Saturdzija took his armies on Arad, Ali-Dede was called on as an exhorter (vaiz) to encourage the troops. On coming back from Arad, while praying, death struck him in early 1007 (1598). His body was transferred to Siget and buried in a special grave.
His most renowned work was "Evail ve evahir" (Beginnings and Ends), and his other work "Es-iletum-hikem" (Wise Questions) was also known in the scholarly world. Furthermore, he was an honest, God-fearing, good man.
Sudi's and Ali-Dede's contemporary, Dervish-pasha Bajezidagic [Mostarac], was very well-known as a hero and a poet, and that's why we will speak of him a little more.
In the midst of the craggy Hercegovina, in the white city of Mostar by the cold Neretva, in the sixth decade of the sixteenth century, Bajezid-aga had a son whose name was Dervish. How young Dervish came to Istanbul, he himself tells us in the preface to "Murad-name": "As a child I came alone to Istanbul and joined Atmejdan-saraj, and that happened during Selim II's time." Therefore, this occurred when Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic was at the peak of his might and glory, while he did all he could to raise his compatriots into the driver's seat of the Turkish state, an endeavor in which he mostly succeeded.
In Atmejdan-saraj, young Dervish lived for several years, industriously studying, particularly interested, as he himself says, in studying Arabic and Persian literature. How much poetry intrigued him he himself says:
Slijedeci glase srca
Hocu - necu vise put
Zaronih u divna djela
Kad bih kakvu krasnu pjesmu
U zanosu proucio,
Cini mi se, kao da sam
Izvan sama sebe bio.
Kao svijetlo zarkog sunca
Scre bi mi razasjala,
A custvenu moju narav
Svojim miljem opcarala.
Hvala Bogu premilome,
Koj' sve moze i sve znade,
Sto i meni velicajno
Nadahnuce pjesme dade.
Pjesnik biti; ko da trazi
Od tog dobra dobro vece?
Cista pamet, pa zrdrav razum, -
Eto za me prave srece!
Prava pjesma svojom moci
Dusu rosi i osvaja,
A covjeka - ko dar bozji
Dize, kr'jepi i opaja.
Ona s neba na sv'jet sagje,
Da se opet k nebu dize,
Jer se vija ispod nebe,
A po zemlji ne gamize.
Ko je shvati i taj s njome
Po eteru vazda pliva;
Nu takovo nadahnude
Bog svakome ne dariva.
After finishing his studies he immediately came to the sultan's court, where he quickly became dogandzi-basa (supervisor of hunting). About it he writes:
Kao zora na istoku
U bajnome ruju sinu
Moja sreca, pa krilim
Visoko se k nebu vinu.
Sugjeno je meni bilo
Da ne reknu: gle sokola
Ne zna lovit ni grlicu.
Poso mi je lijep bio
Pjesmom slavit svog sultana;
Bog mu carstvo udrzao
Do sudnjega tamam dana!
Sad kasidu, sad gazel
Ja sam znao krasno viti
Da me u tom niko drugi
Nije mogo natkriliti.
Pjesme moje poletjese
Kao pcele po cvijetu,
A slava mi rasiri se
Po bijelom sv'jetu.
It is evident that he was very satisfied with his service, and for his celebratory poems he received great awards and honorary garbs. Finally luck brought him into the sultan's realm, where as an administrator he gained glory as a useful statesman.
On Murat III's suggestion, he translated an epic from Persian into Turkish and called it "Muradname" (Murat's book), from where I have taken the above verses written for the book's preface. The translation was fairly good for the Turkish language of the time, 995 (1587). What happened to him afterwards is unknown. In year 1000 (1599), a mosque was built in his honor in Mostar. Likewise, he added to it a medresa and a nice library. In two occasions he was the Bosnian governor, in 1008 (1599) and 1010 (1601). He was a participant in several wars and was a commander of fortresses in many towns in Hungary, as we've already remarked, until finally in great misfortune the commander of the janissaries Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic sent him into an obvious massacre.
Catib-Celebi describes the janissary leader and Dervish-pasha so: "When Dervish-pasha came to the place where he had to cross the Danube, he said to the commander, "This is an obvious murder."
"Yes, yes, I see, answered the commander - but so it must be, for we cannot help it in another way. So if you're afraid, do not go."
"By my strong faith, to me dying is like drinking a glass of water. I am not the least bit worried; I am only concerned with the honor of the faith and of the state. When you say go, I will go, so let be what will be."
Under such an impression, the day before his heroic death he wrote the famous poem "About Destiny," here in translation:
Gdje pomoci ne imade
Tu opravit ne ce nista
Tisuc svjetskih pametara.
Ako Alah jednom robu
Samo bude na pomoci,
Bilo dobro, il ne bilo -
Sve ce mu za rukom poci.
Paznja udes ne odbija,
Zalud su ti sve pomoci;
Vjera ti je! svoju sudbu
Preokrenut ne ces moci.
Neka tisuc pancijera
Od celika na se mece
Smrtnik, ne ce odbit strjelu
S konog luka srece.
Bog je mocan i sve znade;
Kako hoce, 'nako tvori,
Astroloze! sta se mucis? -
Zalud ti je gledat gori.
Sve je divno bez pogreske,
Sto umjetnik vjecni sara;
Sveumjece svjedoci nam:
Da je jedan i bez para.
Ako zelis sretan biti,
Udesu se svom pokori. -
O Dervisu! to upamti
Hazreti pir tako zbori.
Hazreti pir [reference to the poem] is Dzelaluddin Rumi, the famous master and poet of the mystical philosophy and founder of the dervish order "tariki mevlevi." Therefore, we learn from that that Dervish-pasha belonged to that mevlevi order.
As sheyh Fevzi Blagajac in Bulbulistan tells us, Dervish-pasha tried and successfully emulated Rumi's "Mesnevija," but in the end he left it. The same sheyh gives us one ghazel, in which one of Hafiz's most beautiful ghazels is imitated, and that is quite a feat for one Hercegovinian. His language was so truly classical that anyone familiar with Persian would mistake the imitation for the creation of the famous Persian poet.
Here is a translation close to the original:
Ako ono stasito djevoce
Po mojoj se kucici proseta,
U cast njena sjanoga dolaska
Zrtvovacu slasti oba sv'jeta.
Zegj ljubavna ugasit se ne ce
Iz mojega srca zagrijana,
Da ispijem sve, sto ima vode -
U sva sedam svjetskih oceana.
Samo jedan pogled oka tvoga
Sto tisuca srdaca opaja;
Niko nigda ne vidje na sv'jetu
Tako lako, da se pl'jen osvaja.
Zar je cudo, sta ja uv'jek tezim -
Za carima lijepih djeva?
I pjesnik je Adamovo d'jete -
Lijepo ga lice zagrijeva.
Nu pogledaj u srce Dervisu,
Pa se smiluj zaljubljenoj dusi!
Kud ces bolji primjer od slavulja,
Kad zacvili na rumenoj ruzi.
About his poems, here is what sheyh Fevzija has to say:
"He had two divans: one in Persian, the other in Turkish language. Both were beautiful collections of tender and elated sentiments of the poetic soul." With that enough was said, and we will look at another example, to judge from the work, which occupies an important place in the Eastern Parnassus. Here is how he sings about Mostar:
Ko bi mogo opjevati redom
Sve ljepote divnog Mostara;
Zar se cudis srce, sto ga ljubim
Sa ljubavlju sinovskog zara?
O, ne ima na ovome sv'jetu,
Ako nema sred bajnoga raja,
Bistre vode i svjezega zraka, -
Sto covjeka sa zdravljem opaja.
Ko ga gleda, zivot mu se mladi,
A dusa mu u nasladi pliva,
Svaki kraj mu i svako mjestance
Zadivljene oci podraziva.
S vocem, s vodom i ostalim miljem
On je drugi Misir na svijetu;
E bi reko, da je rajska basca, -
Ko ga vidi u majskome cv'jetu.
S dvije kule velika cuprija
Pruzila se preko r'jeke carne -
I sa svojim velicajnim lukom
Pricinja se poput duge sarne.
Cio svijet da obigjes redom
Ne bi naso naroda boljega,
I za svaku znanost i umjece
Vjestijega i sposobnijega.
Tu je gnj'ezdo slavnijeh junaka
I na peru i na bojnu macu,
Ko i prije i sada iz njega
S dana na dan vitezovi skacu.
Neka sute indijske papige,
Neka svoje ne kazuju glase;
O Dervisu! ti si slavulj,
Koji pjeva svog Mostara krase.
Boze! sa dobrotom svojom
Baci pogled svemilosti
Na Dervisa iznemogla,
Koji pati, trpi dosta.
Koliko ti svemoc hoce
Smilovanje daj mu tvoje:
Nemoj na me ni gledati
Vec na dobro gledaj svoje.
Grijeh mi je mislim veci,
Vec kapljica rosne kise,
Ja oborih pred njim glavu,
Ne smijem je dici vise.
Dok glas dogje: o Dervisu
Ne plasi se, sve je lako
Po zasluzi i po gr'jehu
Nagragjen ce biti svako.
In his seal he stamped this verse, which was most likely his motto:
Boze! tvoja dobrota ne neizmjerno more,
Ubog Dervis i bogatas jednako te dvore!
That much about Dervish-pasha, and now let us say something about his son Ahmed-beg, about whom we know only what sheyh Fevzija Blagajac recorded in "Bulbulstan," and that is: "Dervish-pasha's son Ahmed-beg - God bless both of them - was far superior to his father both in actions and in thoughts. All of his poems in Persian and Turkish amaze us with their charming reflections and polished beauty. Without a doubt the old saying came true in him: 'How father goes, so will the son.'" Here are some of his verses from one poem:
Hodi! jer se sad Harabat
Ovog sv'jeta proucava;
Za cudo je l'jepo vr'jeme,
Vesela je bujna trava.
Mejhana je zgodan azil,
Jerbo temelj cvrst imade;
Ne popustaj vrc iz ruke -
Oba sv'jeta s njim se grade.
Teskoj brizi i udesu
Sa srca se spomen brise
U covjeka, sto no vazda
Za svojega druga dise.
Divan ti je behar zica,
Kad se s vinom poljepsaje!
Al na zalost ko cvat ruze
Vrlo kratko - kratko traje.
I found in one manuscript found the following two verses, under which it is written: "Dervishpasha-zade Ahmed-beg," and in translation that goes:
Care! tvoje vjerne sluge, a moji akrani
Postadose redom bezi i miri mirani.
Sad u gradu kuca, da sam ja na redu;
Bog je jedan! sad ce srce iz njih na srijedu.
A contemporary of Dervish-pasha and Ahmed-beg was Mostar's own Ejjubi-zade Mustafa-efendi [Seh Jujo]. His father was the muderis Ejjubi-zade Jusuf-efendi. He earned his higher education in Istanbul, where he was so outstanding in many subjects that immediately after graduating they offered him a teaching position at one of the most prestigious medresas. But when his hometown citizens elected him the mufti of Mostar, he left Istanbul and came to craggy Hercegovina, where he taught higher sciences until his death in 1019 (1610).
While he was still teaching at the medresa, he wrote a commentary about the famous work "Mirat-usul" under the name "Miftahul-husul." At the same time he wrote another book about rhetoric and one about Islamic morality. It is not known if he did or did not write anything about Mostar. He was known among the people under the name Seh Jujo. Because of his exemplary life and great piety, people in Hercegovina even today hold dear his memory and pay respect to his grave; they especially believe that if a senseless and stupid child visits his grave for forty mornings regularly , the child's mind will open and his dullness will be removed.
Among all the scholars who contributed to the field of Eastern learning and worked under the sun of our land, Hasani Cafi-efendi Pruscanin occupies the first place.
The silver age of our past had in the forum of enlightenment some excellent representatives. Ali-beg Hercegovic, Ahmed efendi Sarajlija, Sudija, Ali-Dede, Dervish-pasha, Ahmed-beg, Seh Jujo and Cafija were renowned poets and scholars. Their works - composed in the spirit of the time in Arabic, Persian and Turkish languages, are proud monuments of the past spiritual accomplishments in the field of Eastern edification; their names are bright torches on the horizon of our lands, lightening the old pride in the hearts of our young generation, to seek after Eastern and Western education and to contribute something for the progress of our homeland.
Besides the above mentioned, there are many other compatriots about whom not much is known; and there are many others who we know only by their names, for they gained excellent fame among the Eastern scholars, like the teacher of Sokolovic Mahmudi Bedruddin, Munla Bali-efendi Sejhi Hamza Orlovic, Mehmed-efendi Elbosnevi, the right hand of sejhul-islam Jahja efendi, Muniri efendi, Ridvan-efendi Hrvat, great kazasker and numerous others.
That much about that age, and now something about [Hasan] Cafija [Kafi-efendi Pruscanin], who outlined the glorious epoch of our past period with his death in "Leilei Berat" year 1025 (1616). He learned his studies in Bosnia, where he immediately after graduation joined the kadi rank, until he wanted to learn more, so he left for Istanbul to gain more education. When he got the diploma he again devoted himself to the kadi calling. He was a kadi in several cities and everywhere he left a pleasant memory because of his steady sense of justice. In the end came to him the eternal moving, so he disposed of his kadi service as inheritance in Prusac, where he conscientiously performed his duty, bringing pride and honor to his homeland; as a persevering scholar he wrote several learned works about sundry subjects.
Because it would take too long to recount his entire life and works, we will only consider the most important points. His first work was "Nizamul-alem" (Order of the world), written as an advice for sultan Mehmed III on how to govern his empire. The original was written in classical Arabic, but later, on sultan's suggestion, Cafija translated it into Turkish. After that he composed a work about sharia law called "Revzatul-dzenat" (Paradise Gardens) and he himself commented on it under the name "Usuli-itikadat" (Foundations of Faith). On his way to Mecca he wrote "Semtul-vusul" (The Direction of Approach), on which he also commented. Besides that he composed "Nurul-jakin" (The Light of Knowledge) and wrote four tomes of commentary on the famed work of Islamic jurisprudence "Kuduri." As his last work he wrote "Munire" (The Light), which sheds light on "ilmi-kelam" (Islamic theosophy). Catib-Celebi says that he also wrote another book about "ilmi meanija" and some other smaller works.
As for Cafija's life we will only say this much, that he was very pious and a true ascetic. Over thirty years he always fasted and through twenty years every third day he performed the iftar and "savmi davud" (David's fast). He always wore instead of a shirt a garb of thick wool. Several times he joined the army. He participated in the defense of Osijek, in taking of Egre and Ostrogun, where he helped Mehmed-pasha Sokolovic as an expert in the art of combat and greatly contributed to the taking of Ostrogun. In Prusac he built a mosque, a medresa and a mekteb and provided ample resources for their support.
After Cafija, Husrev-pasha Sokolovic appeared in the Eastern Parnassus, whose life we earlier described [in the earlier section of the book], and here we will say only so much as sheyh Fevzi Blagajac says: "Husrev-pasha - may God bless him - was a great scholar and dignitary, a lover of good books, a man who knew all branches of knowledge, and a pious poet. He knew well the mystic philosophy. All of his poems are in perfect form."
Without a doubt he can be called the teacher of Rumi's poetry.
In several collections which I saw the following ghazel is attributed to Husref-Adzemija, while fakir saw it in the complete divan of Husref-pasha; therefore, I believe some mistakenly attribute Husref-pasha's work to Adzamija.
Here is how it goes:
U ljubavi posta ludo
Srce, nek jos ludje bude!
U nevolji posta hudo
T'jelo, nek jos hugje bude!
Zar je grjesnik ko razaspe
Skordzane tvoje kose?
Sto mu, kao meni tuznu
Nevoljniku - pamet nose.
Gotov mi je srce puci
Od ljugavnog teska jada;
Ako tebe to veseli,
Nek se pusto raskomada.
Vazda Husrev kvasi skute
Suza su mu pune oci;
Ako tebe to veseli,
Nek skut mu se vise moci!
So much for him, and now let us consider another great character.
Among the great men who came from our homeland, one of the first places is undoubtedly occupied by Nercesija.
Nercesi [Nerkesija of Sarajevo] - that famous name, which sounds Persian, is a leaf from our highland which still blooms and enriches the Turkish Parnassus.
Before the rebirth of the beautiful Turkish literature, Nercesija was praised as the most profound and the loftiest classical writer; till this day grand honor and exalted thoughts are accorded to him. Even entire parts of his "Hamsa" (The Fivers) are read in higher Turkish schools as classical paradigms.
Nercesija saw the light of day under mount Trebevic in city of Sarajevo in approximately year 1000. His given name was Muhamed. His father was Nerces Ahmed-efendi, a Sarajevan kadi, a character greatly admired among the people and respected among the Bosnian viziers.
Our young Muhamed learned his first arts and sciences in Sarajevo, while he received his higher education in Istanbul from the prominent scholar Kafzad Fejzullah-efendi. But before he could finish his education, his father dies. Because he had no material support, he stopped his schooling and joined the kadi rank.
As a kadi he first served in Gabela, and then in Mostar, Novi Pazar and in several other villayets. Wherever he came he was liked on account of his wisdom, justice and kindness.
In the year 1044 (1634), by accident, sultan Murat IV sent the writer into the army. On approaching the town Cecbuz he accidentally fell and died in the flower of his mature age. Nercesija left behind him several works, the most well-known being "Hamsei-Nercesi" (The Five Works of Nercesija).
The first part of "Nihalistan" (Branching Garden), which is in turn divided into another five "Nihals" (branches).
The first "Nihal": stories about goodness and kindness
The second "Nihal": stories about lovers' escapades.
The third "Nihal": stories about destiny.
The fourth "Nihal": stories about hospitality.
The fifth "Nihal": stories about the repentance of sinners.
The second part of "Hamsa" was called "Eksiri seadet" (The Chemistry of Greatness). There the translation of the "Cimjai seadet," a work by the famed Islamic scholar Muhamed El-Gazali, is freely interpreted in analyzed.
The third part of "Hamsa" was called "Musakul-usak" (The Woe of Lovers). In that work, after a broad preface, there are three love stories. In all three the plot revolves around the love-struck who die of sorrow, for their love went unnoted.
The fourth part of "Hamsa" was called "Kanunur-resad" (The Law of the Right Way). In the preface it states that the work was written by some Persian sage to sultan Muhamed Dzengizovic, to teach him how to govern his state and how to treat the people. But if we look into this, we find that a large part wrote not the author but Nercesija, for the stories and the learned verses are mostly his works.
The fifth part of "Hamsa" is called "Gazavati muslime" (Islamic Armies). He styled that work after Muhjuddin Arebija. There the army campaigns of the first caliphs of the Beni Umejja dynasty, who fought against the Byzantine Empire, are poetically described.
The entire "Hamsa" is an educating and entertaining work; furthermore, it is masterly dressed with poetic figures and permeated with beautiful Arabic, Persian and Turkish verses. There sparks fly, as from a burning coal. Many have tried to overtake him in poetic vision and play of words, but their labor went in vain, for Nercesija is untouchable in that respect. Perhaps not even one Turkish entertaining book has not seen as many printings as "Hamsei Nercesi."
But make no mistake: even if he did not use the Persian and Arabic words in the measure he did, Nercesi's "Hamsa" would have remained a significant work through time in Turkish literature, because of its age and because of its poetic vision and flourishing imagination. For a very long time to come, the Turkish poets, story-tellers, and the scholarly world will indulge themselves reading the fruits developed from the imagination of our Nercesi.
Besides "Hamsa" there was yet another beautiful work under the name "Menakibi Murteda-pasha" (Points from the Life of Murteda-pasha).
Even that little work was written in the ponderous style of "Hamsa," except it was not laden with didactic verses.
As for Nercesi's poems, and he left quite a few, they can stand up to the most beautiful poems before and after the rebirth of Turkish literature, for with their content and form fit even the modern spirit and taste. Largely they were written in Turkish, but there are several poems artistically styled in Persian.
In lyrical poems, especially in love poetry, Nercesija is much more accessible and understandable. His ghazels are scented like blooming roses and the fresh fragrance of Sarajevan beauties.
When I read one ghazel from the Nercesija's pen, I unintentionally think of Dervish-pasha from Mostar and other poets from our lands who wrote in Turkish and Persian, I can only assume because there is something common binding all of them. That is the thread of our fabric, weaved through with Persian gold and Turkish silk.
In the following poem lively imagination is splendidly envisioned, but imagination which is always heavily present in Nercesija's writings and is the chief mark of his poetry:
Nek u loptu zatvorenu
Metnu jednog malog mrava,
Pa onda zavaljaju
Preko polja i dubrava.
U tom vjecnom prevrtanju
Samrt mu je zice pravo;
A gle; ja sam mrav bijedni,
A ta lopta - nebo plavo.
[referring to the poem] The empty sphere, where the ant is imprisoned, rolls down hills and steep valleys. The miserable creature turns on its head a hundred times just in one moment, incessantly, without respite. How must it be, or how should it be to the soul of the poor ant, that he can feel pain, which man would silently bear in his place? Nercesija places himself in the ant's pitiful state, and the empty sphere is the whole world, in which man turns without end in sight, until finally the old Persian saying is affirmed: "Everyone moves, but in moving everyone will fall into his own hole in the end." Some sentiment, which is common to all Turkish poets, exudes from Nercesija's poems, as seen from the following two ghazels, which cannot be transplanted into our language as ghazels:
O nebesa, gdje je smilovanje?
Dokle ce jos progonstvo trajati?
Zar nikada samrtnik ne moze
Svoje svjetske giehe okajati?
Moje zice ko bujica progje,
Kako da se sada zatalasa?
Gorke suze vec su presahnule
Od ljubavi; meni nema spasa!
Zar nikada o sastanku ne ce
Pirit zefir u mog srca gaju?
Zar ce uviev noc rastanka kriti
Mene u svom crnom zagrljaju?
Kol'ko put sam u pjesmi, u prozi
Ocrtao sta mi srce pece,
A te iskre, a ti plamenovi
Moje tajnu boli ne liece.
O nezbori o molbi i strahu,
O sastanku i rastanku s dragom!
Za verigam takovieh misli
Nercesija nemoj ici tragom.
E bi moje izgorjelo tielo
Na plamenu ognja ljubavnoga.
Da se suze ciedile nisu,
Kao kisa s placna oka moga.
Kakve misli, kakve rieci
Po mome su mozgu razsute!
I ako se pod izlikom cine
Kao knjige, koje vazda sute.
Kad kroz mastu tvoje carne vjegje
Mojoj dusi u blizinu plove,
Procvili mi srce u njedrima
Poput tuzne harfe Eolove.
Nercesija, tvoja pjesma sece
Po druzini, kao casa fina
I privlaci nekom cudnom moci
Citatelje poput rujna vina.
Sometimes Nercesija, like Hafiz, knows how to hit a happy note, to delight the reader, and so he puts such words into the mouths of lovers in "Hamsa." Here is one such poem:
Zgoda bjezi isod neba,
Da je stigne majstor treba;
Zgoda, to je disaj zore,
Brzi lahor u sred gore,
Taj je lahor zadah mali,
Sto je jedan trenut gali;
Dok nas blago sunce grije,
De ispimo casu, dvije!
Overall Nercesija is the greatest master in composing poems of joy. His panegyric verses, even his apotheosis of sejhul-islam Azmi-efendi, is known in Turkish literature as the model of such poetry.
Here is how it begins:
Uzmi rukom Nercesija,
Casu slave i radosti,
Kad si taj cas docekao,
Veseli se, pij i gosti!
Progji, sjedi u vrh krcme,
Kao sto je Dzemsid sjedo;
Progji culah natjeravsi
Na oci - na celo bliedo.
Danju nocu treba piti,
A nikada pjan ne biti,
Jer kada se dzaba pije,
Treba biti veselije.
De povikni: "Uzivanje!"
Nek napuni doa svoje,
Nek se toci staro vino.
Nek veselo sviet poje.
Nek napuni cio obzor
Vika: pijmo, pijmo, pijmo!
Neka Dzemsid vidi, kako
Darijski se veselimo.
Ovo nije ono pice,
Sto pijance u se liju,
Da s'opiju i megju se
Praznima se casam biju.
U ovom je picu uzrok
Prave srece i veselja,
Iz svake se kaplje ragja
Nova nada - nova zelja i.t.d.
Nercesija's contemporaries were sheyh Husein Lamecan, who also showed himself as a hero in pen, and the famous scholar from Mostar, Ibrahim-efendi Roznamedzija, who was a favorite of Istanbul. Even sejhul-islam and the great viziers had to consult him. This man was both a dictator and a demagogue, holding in his reins the people and the court. At the same time lived Jusuf-pasha, about whom Catib-Celebi says that he was so learned that he could even sit at the place of sejhul-islam; when he reached the mature age, he became a victim of Dzindzi-hodza's schemes while serving as a vizier. Besides the above men, there were three other of our compatriots who had the greatest judicial honors, and those were Isa-efendi Sarajlija, Bejazi-efendi, and Saban-efendi Nevesinjac.
In the other half of the XVII century we meet with two well-known compatriots, Ahmed-efendi Mostarac and the famous sheyh Abdullah Gabija. The first made himself famous in the field of Islamic jurisprudence with the work "Fetava-i-Ahmedi" (Ahmed's Fetvas), which was recognized in the scholarly world. Besides that he wrote "Enisul-vaizin" (The Friend of the Story-teller). He died in Mostar in 1090 (1679), respected as a highly educated and noble man.
Sheyh Abdullah Gabija was from the Hljev area, from where he moved to Stara Gradiska. Where he received his education it is not known, but he was highly educated, as we know from the commentaries of two works in "Fususul-hikem," the most famous and most mystical work of the father of mystical philosophy in the East, Muhjuddin Arebija. Of all the commentators of Fusus, it is said that our Gabija delved into the deepest secrets of the enigmatic work. Besides that he wrote a smaller work about his dervish thoughts. He died in about 1100 (1688) in Stara Gradiska, where even a mausoleum was built for him and which today still stands in good shape. Often Muslims from the area cross over to Slavonia and pay respects at his grave. Among the Bosnian dervishes entire legends from his life are carried on in stories.
Their contemporary and pioneer in the Eastern Parnassus was Osman-beg Ljubovic, who was most likely the son of Omer-Celebija, and grandson of Hadzi Sulejman-beg Ljubovic, who executed Abaz-pasha in Travnik. We do not know after what event these four poems, which are pervaded with nostalgia after home and the loved one, were writen, but we can suppose that they were composed during the long conquest of Crete:
Mome srcu jad zadaje,
Duso, tvoje oko carno;
Moju dusu uzrujava
Pogledanje to nemarno.
Sto mi pusto srce gori,
To su krive tvoje kose,
Zul - solufi, pletenice,
Sto mi laku pamet nose.
U cudo me divno mece
Vitkost tvoga sevli stasa,
Fina kretnja, nazli setnja
Tankovitost tvoga pasa.
Ah tesko je papagaju
U tugjemu zivjet kraju,
Kad se sjeti drage svoje,
Da od jada ne zapoje!
Hajde draga, nek ti bude!
Ti u carvstu srece zivi,
A tvoj Hilmi iz doline
Suza nek se tebi divi!
Moja draga kao da ne znade
Da mi smrt se u pohode sprema,
Dusa mi je boli dopanula,
Kojoj l'jeka u Lokmana nema.
Oko stabla zivota neduzna,
Ko brsljan se samrt omotala,
A ptica mu izmucene duse
U gnijezdu tijela zaspala.
Dusa visi o jagodi njenoj,
A srce se od cuda snebiva,
Kanaanski starac ni ne sluti,
Da mu Jusuf u jami pociva.
Jadikujuc molim smilovanje,
A tvoj soluf sve me vise drazi;
Mogu li se naklonost nadat,
Mila duso, de mi odmah kazi!
O Hilmija ostah u tugjini
Pokraj mene nikog moga nema,
Svi zemljaci tebe zabacise,
Rodbina ti u nehaju dr'jema.
Kad se sjetim gjula tvoga,
Mene teske misli taru,
Zar ko komar gorit moram
U ljubavne vatre zaru?
Jednoj uzor - ljpotici
Moje bice sad se klanja,
A o carim Zulejhinim
Niti misli, niti sanja.
A kada mi na um panu
Tvoji njezni dilber - hiri.
Odmah zelja Amorova
Moje srce usplahiri.
Ja ne mogu poci, duso,
Kud me salju neki ljudi;
Ko bit moze kad te vidi,
Da ne skrene, ne poludi?
U dolini brige dusa
Sretni casak ocekiva,
Al na zalost, kada srce
U lodsti carstvo sniva!
Kad se danas u tom tuznom stanu
Sjetih doma i u njemu drage
Plakao sam ko djetesce malo,
Pretresajuc uspomene blage.
A sad - moji jadi nepreboni!
U ugjini moram liti suze;
Nigdje svoga ni u gori vuka,
Sve sto volih - sve mi svijet uze.
Sjeco sam se divna gjulistana,
Bulbul-ptica i rumenih ruza;
Svud je zivo vladalo veselje,
A ona je svemu bila dusa.
Nav'jeke te udes rastavio,
Nikad, Hilmi, vidjet ih ne ces;
Ti ces tuzit za domom i dragom,
I najposl'je tuzec umrijeces!
These four poems, which cannot be compared to the finesse of the Turkish language found in Dervish-pasha's or Nercesija's poems, are nonetheless laden with memories and emotional thoughts. An entire century passed without any of our writers appearing in the East - but all of a sudden out of that dullness a phenomenal character is born.
I am certain, for I cannot even doubt, that our land did not give Turkish literature a more original poet [than Alauddin Sabit Uzicanin].
When and where he lived we cannot know with certainty. Some believe that he was born in Uzice in Bosnia. But he was most likely born in Taslidza (Pljev) in the beginning of the second half of XVIII century. About his youth we also know nothing, for neither the older nor the younger biographers record anything.
When Sabit came to Istanbul he came under the care of Sejjidi-zade Mehmed-pasha (known in the folk songs under the name pasha Sjidija); little by little he reached to the rank of mevlevvijjet, which is an honor in the great sharia-judicial nobility in Turkey. First he was a mullah in Bosnia, and after that in Konja and finally in Diaribekir, where he died in 1124 (1712).
So much about Sabit's life, and now let us see how he fared as a poet. Some Ottoman poets give to Nabija, while others to Nefija the highest honor in Parnassus; yet I dare, with a calm soul, to place both below Sabit, for he is a poet of his own kind, while Nabija and Nefija are merely the followers of the Persian mystical school. The first imitated the eminent mystic Sajib, and the other admits to being a follower of Dzelaluddin Rumi.
"But why should we consider Sabit to be more original than other Turkish poets?" So our reader will ask. As I said once before, when writing about Dervish-pasha Mostarac or about Nercesija, we are writing about poets that constitute a separate genre in Turkish literature. Without a doubt, they were influenced by our folk poetry, which has a wealth of poetic figures and tropes. Instead of borrowing expressions from the Arabs and Persians, as was the usual custom of the Turkish poets before the rebirth of literature, our poets would unintentionally journey into the garden of our folk poetry, to feed their eyes on the flowers of their homeland and to indulge in the fresh air from the home field.
In "Zafername" (Poem about Victory) we clearly see that even Sabit was influenced by others. But Sabit always strove to be original, and he left many pearls in Turkish literature, which will continue to shine on the necklace of the Ottoman fairy for centuries to come.
Let us hear what the recently deceased Turkish poet Muallimi Nadzija, one of the so-called "reformers," has to say: "Sabit had a peculiar will and habit of sneaking sayings and popular phrases into his poems. Even though he stands in a separate field of poetry, he composed many unsavory verses under the influence of new thoughts. What is nice in his poems cannot be imitated, but what is poor is without good taste."
So says Nadzija, and I agree with him to a certain extent, but I would just like to know, what poems that Sabit composed were without good taste? Nadzija mentions not one, but speaks without proof.
Without a doubt indeed are some dry themes which Sabit treated in his poems, all in his effort to be original. I believe that the greatest mastery is when a vapid theme is poetically treated and the reader is amazed by it - and does not yawn.
Sabit most readily treated such things in his efforts to be original. It may be that there are some weaknesses in that endeavor, but for the most part he was successful. When all the mistakes are considered, they disappear from sight in comparison to the greatness of Sabit's work.
Even the Turkish poet Zija-pasha, the prominent Orientalist whose work belongs in the second half of this century, says this about our Sabit in the preface to his anthology "Harabat:" "Sabit was an outstanding poet. In that area he occupies a special place. He had one "Nat" (poem in celebration of the prophet), which wins our hearts, and "Miradzije" (Way to Heaven) is similarly beautiful. Words in his poems are precise and well-chosen, and content is indeed like precious metals. Because he tried to create aphorisms and sayings, he often stepped away from the rules of metered verse." So Zija-pasha, who was known as a poet and an expert of Eastern and Western literature, knowledgeable about all Arabic, Persian and Turkish writers, deems Sabit.
This little anecdote characterizes Sabit well. As any man who stutters, he mumbled words when he spoke. Once when he was with his friends, they asked him if saying words was difficult for him, he answered, "Indeed it is hard for me to speak, but, thank God, my pen can scribble a little; if it gave me difficulty, I would die of hardship, ruptured like a bug from sorrow."
Because I do not have at hand Sabit's huge divan, but only a few poems, I will not rate his entire work; I will limit myself to "Zafername-i-Sabit," without a doubt his most beautiful work and masterpiece in the Turkish literature. That is the panegyric ode about the heroism of Selim Giraj.
Most evident in that poem are the artistic depictions of nature and war, the flourishing imagination, the poetic ardor and a special place in Eastern Parnassus, where Sabit stands alone and proudly overlooks a community of poets who pursue this or that model. In the preface to "Zafername," as we will see, Sabit lays out his direction so:
Hodi o Rekse bajnog pera
Parnaso sto no prasinu tjera!
Ljiljan i ruza proci ce letom,
Pjevaj o sablji i stitu svetom;
Dosta je cesljat mirisne kose,
Stit i strijela se nose;
Dosta je boja s pogledom djeva,
Sad treba ici gdje sablja sjeva;
Dosta je hvalit dragino stanje,
Neka se ljulja u gaju granje.
Od boja junak, covjek od dara
Nek od tog polja pustinju stvara!
Ova je zgrada -- zalostan spomen,
U njoj je svaki razoren kamen;
O tom imade tisuc pjesama,
Da se vec slusat ne mili nama.
Za sto da opet o Kajsu zborim
I svoje misli s lugjakog morim?
Ne mogu slusat Lejlinih hira,
Progji se ludih, podaj im mira!
Sta te se tice Ermenka mlada,
Da znades, ljubi l b'jesna Ferhada.
Sto o tom svemu, da teglis muke? -
Lugjaku ne daj kamen u ruke
U usta nemoj uzimat ime
Sirine, tek ces pokvarit s njime i.t.d.
Is that not doing everything in your own way? Even those who know little about Eastern poetry immediately see how great is the divide which separates Sabit from other Turkish poets.
After that he calls on the pen, finding a new direction where not even the pen of Kajsa or Ferhad reached. When he comes to the end, may he from scratch build a new palace which will tower over clouds and which the sun will present to the world. At the end of the preface he says this:
Ne primam zene u svoje dveri;
"Kome nije pravo nek mi ne da kceri"
Ponesi krcmaru, vatrenu casu,
Da otvorim svecano drzavu nasu!
Sviracu, i ti tamburo amo,
Pobjedonosno da zapjevamo,
Napjeve stare baci na stranu,
Pa sviraj pjesmu jos ne pjevanu.
From this we clearly see that Sabit tries as hard as he can to create something: above all something which never existed in Turkish literature.
In the first part [of the book] he comprehensively covers how Sulejman II came to the throne. In part two, the meeting between Selim Giraj, the Crimean khan, and Sulejman is described, and in part three he describes the winter and the coming of the khan to his winter lodging.
The description of winter is a characteristic place in "Zafername." There we see Sabit in his true setting: as an independent poet of the East, he did not know the Greek or Roman classics, but when he looked into them, he started to admire them. Every reader who knows the Eastern literature will admit that Sabit was an original poet and in his originality he was sometimes, for the lack of better words, either incomprehensible or silly.
Here is how the description of winter begins:
Kao sablja demiskija zima cica
Nasta; bura sibat poce poput bica.
Pod nebom se uhvatise oblaci za kosu,
Dok s lica mu cio bijes na zemlju se prosu;
Bistro vrelo, kao da je noge utoplilo,
Ni briga ga, sto se nebo snijegom pokrilo.
Svijet posta div bijeli, sto no silno bruji,
A na njega iz oblaka stup od leda struji.
Zimovistem leze lagje - sve ih muci sjeta;
Ko po snijegu da su bjela jadra razapeta.
Po hauzim valjaju se od snijega grude,
Ko c'vjetovi od ljiljana sred ciste posude.
E, bi reko: da nebesa svoje rublje peru,
U more ga ispiraju, pa po zemlji steru.
Svud svijece objesene od cistoga leda,
Cio svijet kao ducan mumdzinski izgleda itd.
Isn't that unique not just in Eastern but also in world literature? Here one finds comparisons so symbolic, new and extravagant that the reader is amazed how could he come up with all of this. In the same description it says in one place: "The tree cutters's hair and beard was so caught in ice that one could cut it with an ax from their mustaches."
All this was created in such smooth and elegant verses, as is the form of most Sabit's poems. As we learn from "Zafername" and his other poems, Sabit did not like to overload his works with Arabic and Persian words, like other Turkish poets did; wherever it was possible he used known and primitive Turkish words, which are mostly known to us in Bosnia and Hercegovina. Here are a few samples from the description of winter: sadzak, baklava, jufka (dough for pastries), casa (bowl), karpuza (watermelon), mertebanija (a large bowl), foja (an artificial jewel), and others.
The last poem of "Zafername" tells us about the clash of Giraj khan with his enemies. In that longest section Sabit freed his imagination; I do not know whether to call it a panegyric ode or an apotheosis to Giraj? In forty-some verses, full of pomp and color, it is described how he rode on his horse and came before his soldiers, who told him that the enemy troops, when compared to his army, are like the Ottoman sea compared to a drop of water. Even though the poet himself says that the numbers were a little inflated, he still states that khan had only a handful of soldiers compared to the enemies, for there were seventy two nationalities in the Polish army. Finally he wonders how is it possible to gather that many people in one order.
He then ponders the problem: if this is not the Nesnas (the old Arabs believed that in India there is a highland, which is called Zatul-Avam and where there is a large tribe called Nesnas; the Arab imagination depicts these creatures as tall and corpulent beings, covered with hair, of dark complexion, with red hair, and eyes on both sides of the head) who crossed the Caucasus, I do not know what they are.
The khan then noticed fear among his soldiers facing the formidable enemy, so he ordered the imam to exhort the troops; all this is artistically depicted in several verses. Here is the speech which Sabit places in the imam's mouth:
Kad ajete iz kur΄ana o boju razjasni,
Onda rece vojnicima ovaj govor krasni:
"Vitezovi, pocujte me, da vam kazem jasno -
Na crnu ste zemlju dosli, da pomrete casno.
Nit je ovaj svijet v'jecan ni naklonost neba,
Il "gazija" ili "sehit" svakom biti treba.
Kad cemo jos docekati vaki bajram jedan?
Ko pogine bi ce sehit, ko ostane sretan.
Cujte braco, znamenit je dan danasnji za nas,
Junacki je ovo bajram, slavni pir je danas;
Gazije ce casno ime u narodu steci,
A sehiti u rajske ce gjulistane preci."
Kad u vojsci vriska nasta, strese se od zora
Na povrsju zemaljskome devet slavnih gora,
Ta krvava suza kamen u rubin pretvara
I crvene sekajike po zemljici stvara.
Han se skromno na sedzdu k zemlji baci doli,
Da od Boga svemocnoga za pomoc se moli itd.
Then he describes the battle very picturesquely and vividly. On the right wing of the Crimean army stands Kalgaj-khan, on the left Safi-khan, and in the middle Selim Giraj khan, who as a tiger forays into the dark clouds of the enemy, seeking "nev arusi zafer" (the young victory) like the famous Zal.
From the rifles fire flies as from the mouths of dragons, and spears stab like mad scorpions. Guns from their openings spew smoke and fire, one would think they were dragons, all the while spraying shells fly below the skies like witches on burning pots. Knives and swords with horrible teeth are pointed at the sky.
A pancieri kao zvjezde izbecili oci,
Kom ce sreca sa pobjedom u pohode doci.
Vr'jeme slika po bojistu boli ljutih rana,
Dim sa krvlju, a s azurum rumen smijesana.
Udes pero nesmiljeno uzeo u ruke,
Pa po nebu pobjedniku sara slavoluke.
Za sudbine stolom saki s krvlju vino lije
Iz kalpaka srebrenog, kome mjere nije.
Sve bojiste nije drugo vec krvavo more,
Krluc-ribe, britke sablje sto oklope pore.
U tom more krvavome kumbare se sjaju
Ko vulkani na otocim kad vatru rigaju.
And so goes on the description of the battle in fifty-some verses. Finally an accident determined the victory of Selim Giraj. How terrible the massacre was Sabit's pen cannot describe.
After the battle the field looks so:
Leze lesi na okolo ko nakaz prave,
Tuzni znaci neumrle Girajove slave.
Od usesa i nosova, da harace prime
Doletio jedan oro, a tisuc za njime.
I mravima i zmijama udes gozbu dade,
Ta ljudskog pusta mea na pretek imade!
Then he describes the joy among the Tartar soldiers in bombastic verses like I've never read before:
Ta pobjeda razveseli nagjele i ljude,
Od veselja i radosti nebesa zagude.
The skies are clear; the stars shine on him; but those are not stars, says Sabit, those are the bright outlines of angels who in glory and joy fly and disperse rockets across the universe...
No, he says then, it is not the tail of the star that flickers before our eyes, but it is Venus dancing across the sky, holding in her hand a golden handkerchief...
Selim Giraj then slays the kurban in honor of the victory and liberates all the prisoners, letting them go home. In the meantime he learns that the enemies have come across the Ozija and attacked Kiev. The khan immediately equipped Jegen Mirza with one part of the army, which reached the foe and again dispersed them on all sides. With that ends the "Zafername," and this is the last verse: (So came this happy news and Eid upon Eid spread through Islam.)
Sabit's younger contemporaries were sheyh Fevzija Blagac, the author of "Bulbulstan," and Mustafa-efendi Pruscanin, the author of "Tebsirul-guzzata" (The Hero's Congratulation). The first one [Fevzija] wrote in the Persian language, modeled after Dzamin Beharistan, a collection of stories about life as a dervish, in which there are also some short remarks from the lives of Rumi poets, who proved themselves as dervishes in the Persian Parnassus; among them, as we've seen, are Dervish-pasha Mostarac, his son Ahmed-beg, and Husrev-pasha Sokolovic. His language is colorful but not truly classical. Here and there are non-Persian appearances that were created under Arabic and Croatian influence.
Mustafa-efendi Pruscanin wrote this work in Arabic; the content describes the battles before Banja Luka, Zvornik, etc., during Hecim-oglin's time. He died in the year 1169 (1755) in Prusac.
Except for those already mentioned, there were many other of our compatriots who strummed the strings of the Eastern lyre, but about them we do not know much; those were Zijai Mostarac, Hadzi Dervish-efendi Mostarac, Ali-efendi Pruscanin, Vehbi Bosnevi and many others, whose poems can be found in various collections.
I will use this opportunity to mention yet others who occupy outstanding places in the Turkish Parnassus: Habiba hanuma Stocevic, the daughter of Ali-pasha, and Arif-beg Stocevic, who signed his poetic works under the name Hersekli Hikmet. Even today Hikmet enjoys a high opinion among the Turkish poets and even the younger generation. He lives as a high legal dignitary in Istanbul.
And so I hastily patched up this piece about our fathers who knew how to deftly use the pen or how to strum the strings of the Eastern lyre; and in that field, as on the battlefield, they left a pleasant memory for their posterity, reminding us that people from our great land contributed to the Eastern scholarship.
And now, I would like to add a plea to all our patriots, who respect the memory of their fathers, to inform me of any work or fact from the lives of the mentioned writers and poets. If I have the strength I will try to transplant those works into our garden, or to depict more broadly the lives and works of all the mentioned as well as other compatriots who proved [their worth] in the field of Eastern literature.
Translated by Edin Hajdarpasic from the appendix of Kratka Uputa u Proslost Bosne i Hercegovine (A Short Instruction in the Past of Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1463-1850); Sarajevo: Vlastita Naklada, 1900, Safvet beg Basagic Redzepasic
Ovo je kompilacija tekstova koji mogu biti od koristi djacima i studentima a zele na jednom mjestu imati nesto o bosnjackoj knjizevnosti.
© 1999-2006 by prof. Hamdo Camo & Mirzet Hamzic, nastavnik u GHM