Oct 15 2010

Yunus Emre – A single word can brighten the face

Published by at 9:34 am under Poetry

A single word can brighten the face
by Yunus Emre

English version by Kabir Helminski & Refik Algan

A single word can brighten the face
of one who knows the value of words.
Ripened in silence, a single word
acquires a great energy for work.

War is cut short by a word,
and a word heals the wounds,
and there’s a word that changes
poison into butter and honey.

Let a word mature inside yourself.
Withhold the unripened thought.
Come and understand the kind of word
that reduces money and riches to dust.

Know when to speak a word
and when not to speak at all.
A single word turns the universe of hell
into eight paradises.

Follow the Way. Don’t be fooled
by what you already know. Be watchful.
Reflect before you speak.
A foolish mouth can brand your soul.

Yunus, say one last thing
about the power of words —
Only the word “I”
divides me from God.

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


/ Photo by p0psicle /

It’s been too long since we’ve had a poem by the great Turkish Sufi poet Yunus Emre.

So many wonderful words in this poem, all in a poem about “a word.” Each line inspires contemplation.

Ripened in silence, a single word
acquires a great energy for work.

I think I’ll take the poet’s advice and not waste words.

Only the word “I”
divides me from God.

Have a beautiful weekend! (And don’t be fooled by what you already know!)

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

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12 responses so far

12 Responses to “Yunus Emre – A single word can brighten the face”

  1. Akeemon 15 Oct 2010 at 11:34 am

    Thank you, Ivan. Blessings.

  2. franon 15 Oct 2010 at 12:13 pm

    Thanks, loved the poem and intention, if I taught High School music I ‘d bring it into the classroom and encourage the kids to make it their own. Great universal wisdom.
    My favorite was “…..the kind of word that reduces money and riches to dust.”

  3. Susan Emeleuson 15 Oct 2010 at 12:46 pm

    Thank you, Ivan. Today’s poem was the best for many days. Thank you, and blessings, Sue.

  4. Jim Atwellon 15 Oct 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Who can say what word creates the face of love.
    Silence comes before sound and she is being very quiet.

    Much love
    jim atwell

  5. simonbaghon 16 Oct 2010 at 3:55 am

    nowadays this much freedom in expression
    denies poem’s meaning and poet’s intention

    that eassy to tell the others not to talk
    instead do hard work and fast walk

  6. Sunil Uniyalon 16 Oct 2010 at 7:35 am

    Thank u, Ivan, for sharing this beautiful poem. It makes my day. Warm regards.

  7. simonbaghon 16 Oct 2010 at 11:19 am

    nowadays this much freedom in expression
    denies poem’s meaning and poet’s intention

    that is easy to tell others thoughtfully talk
    instead work hard and nonstop you do walk

    every word indicates color of innermost world
    that is not fair to block its flow yet to be bold

    if you do serve the fear and its dreadful role
    you also exert fright to keep tongues in hole

    every flower gives-off its own scent as you do
    to respect others let them their way to pursue

    fear is the king of kings in world throughout
    the rule of terror governs every king’s heart

    fight against the awful king existing in hreat
    give way to freedom till to force it to depart

  8. Jack Gilleson 16 Oct 2010 at 11:35 am

    Ivan, I found this poem the most powerful one I have received from you so far. Perhaps it is the closeness to Rumi that I feel, but these are words I want to, as they say, “learn by heart”. I have sent it to so many friends. You never know when a poem you send is just what a person is needing at that time. This was one of them. Thank you, you never know what shore the ripples reach when you cast a stone in to life’s water with love.

  9. Patricia Gagneon 17 Oct 2010 at 8:30 am

    Good Morning, Ivan,

    Thank you for the intro to Yunus….that in itself is a good word!

  10. Subhan Alion 17 Oct 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Hightened poetry and sober picture, attaract everyone every time. Kudos. ……..Subhan Ali, Ghaziabad, UP India.

  11. […] http://www.poetry-chaikhana.com/blog/2010/10/15/yunus-emre-a-single-word-can-brighten-the-face/ […]

  12. Mark David Vinzenson 19 Dec 2020 at 6:44 pm

    The divine sweetness of Yunus Emre warms my heart.

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