The poetry of Suleiman the Magnificent

Essay by Kamil_PLUniversity, Master's July 2014

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Suleiman the Magnificient's Poetry. The Work of a Perfect Ruler.

Suleiman the Magnificient (Kanuni - the Lawgiver) provided a new spirit for the poets, scientists and authors. This ruler poet of the XVI century sponsored an army of artists, religious thinkers and philosophers that outshone the most educated courts of Europe. Suleiman himself actively participated in the development of Ottoman poetry by writing poems under the name Muhibbi (the lover, true friend) and his love poetry is among the best in Islam. Suleiman's poems are highly ritualized and belong to Divan poetry.[1: Clot, André. "Preface." In Suleiman the Magnificent: the man, his life, his epoch. London: Saqi, 1992. 4-5.]

   From the Persian poetry that largely inspired it, Divan poetry mingles the mystical Sufi thought with profane and erotic elements. It also inherited a wealth of symbols whose meanings and interrelationships are prescribed. The nightingale, for instance opposes the rose, and the world opposes the rose garden.
The pairing of "the nightingale" and "the rose" suggests two different relationships: between the fervent lover ("the nightingale") and the inconstant beloved ("the rose") and between the individual Sufi practitioner (a lover) and God (the ultimate source and object of love). Similarly, "the world" refers simultaneously to the physical world considered as the abode of sorrow and impermanence, while "the rose garden" refers literally to a garden and to the garden of Paradise. [2:  Renard, John. "Poetry and Mysticism in Islam: The Heritage of Rumi.." The Journal of the American Oriental Society, January 1, 1997.]
   However, human physicality belonging to the physical world is never desecrated. It is rather praised, just like in the European tradition of courtly love. The best example is Roxelana. The romance between Suleiman and a golden-haired Ukrainian slave girl sent to the harem is the subject of a...