Feb 08 2012

Yunus Emre – Those who became complete

Published by at 9:11 am under Poetry

Those who became complete
by Yunus Emre

English version by Kabir Helminski & Refik Algan

Those who became complete
didn’t live this life in hypocrisy,
didn’t learn the meaning of things
by reading commentaries.

Reality is an ocean; the Law is a ship.
Many have never left the ship,
never jumped into the sea.

They might have come to Worship
but they stopped at rituals.
They never knew or entered the Inside.

Those who think the Four Books
were meant to be talked about,
who heave only read explanations
and never entered meaning,
are really in sin.

Yunus means “true friend”
for one whose journey has begun.
Until we transform our Names,
we haven’t found the Way.

— from The Drop That Became the Sea: Lyric Poems of Yunus Emre, Translated by Kabir Helminski / Translated by Refik Algan


/ Photo by geezaweezer /

Reality is an ocean; the Law is a ship.
Many have never left the ship,
never jumped into the sea.

I love these feisty mystic poets. They come in all shades of religious sentiment, but they do tend to congregate outside the halls of orthodoxy. Most are profoundly devout and fiercely focused in their spirituality. But for the mystic to truly open to the Divine, one must clearly see the nature of reality and the nature of one’s very self — without blinders or pretense. That’s why mystics don’t write poems in praise of rules, hierarchies, or second hand knowledge. They want the wide ocean, not the creaking ship.

Yunus Emre, Yunus Emre poetry, Muslim / Sufi poetry Yunus Emre

Turkey (1238 – 1320) Timeline
Muslim / Sufi

Yunus Emre is considered by many to be one of the most important Turkish poets. Little can be said for certain of his life other than that he was a Sufi dervish of Anatolia. The love people have for his liberating poetry is reflected in the fact that many villages claim to be his birthplace, and many others claim to hold his tomb. He probably lived in the Karaman area.

His poetry expresses a deep personal mysticism and humanism and love for God.

He was a contemporary of Rumi, who lived in the same region. Rumi composed his collection of stories and songs for a well-educated urban circle of Sufis, writing primarily in the literary language of Persian. Yunus Emre, on the other hand, traveled and taught among the rural poor, singing his songs in the Turkish language of the common people.

A story is told of a meeting between the two great souls: Rumi asked Yunus Emre what he thought of his great work the Mathnawi. Yunus Emre said, “Excellent, excellent! But I would have done it differently.” Surprised, Rumi asked how. Yunus replied, “I would have written, ‘I came from the eternal, clothed myself in flesh, and took the name Yunus.'” That story perfectly illustrates Yunus Emre’s simple, direct approach that has made him so beloved.

More poetry by Yunus Emre

7 responses so far

7 Responses to “Yunus Emre – Those who became complete”

  1. rena navonon 08 Feb 2012 at 11:12 am

    “I came from the eternal, clothed myself in flesh and took the name Yunus.” The image of a man naked defying the one and only Rumi. The words simple and direct are not enough to describe such forbearance; yet more would have robbed them of their naked strength.
    The jump into the ocean is more daring. Imagination, what else makes it happen? Again an image… Poets take less chances than mystics. How can I understand what normally literature alone will handle?
    Yet without inspiration from the daring forefront how stale would life become. Yunus, clothed as I am with ordinary fears and flawed by hangups that return from a lonely youth as an only child, it was wonderful to be introduced to a saint like you.

  2. Qahiraon 08 Feb 2012 at 2:28 pm

    In the line….”who heave only read explanations”..I am curious about the heaving part…that is all.Any light to be shed would increase this person’s understanding

    Love Qahira

  3. Ivan M. Grangeron 08 Feb 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Qahira- That must be a type-o on my part. Sorry. It should be “who have only read explanations.” Although, “heave” opens up all sorts of interesting interpretations, doesn’t it? -Ivan

  4. Smitaon 08 Feb 2012 at 4:04 pm

    This is lovely. Thank you.

  5. Yohannahon 08 Feb 2012 at 5:08 pm

    Is it only a coincidence that those who plonged in that ocean are the same ones who changed places many many times,traveled ,went here and there,leurned different languages,did different things,that their life become a non stop mouvement inside like outside and there leurned to remind in the center? Yunus did the same.
    The dust of the roads of this old world on his shoes, and the glow of god’s love radiating on his face!That’s him!Ashik Yunus!(Yunus ,in Love)
    thank you Ivan.

  6. jim carlinon 09 Feb 2012 at 5:16 pm

    experience is a brutal teacher
    but we learn-God do we learn-c s lewis

  7. akeemon 10 Feb 2012 at 8:56 am

    Thanks for sharing.

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