three pairs of lovers with space

THE EROTIC POEMS OF FAZIL BEY

 

Fazil Bey (1757-1810) was an Arab poet of prominent family, who wrote mostly Greek love poems in Turkish. Born in Ottoman Palestine, he was captured following the defeat of his grandfather’s rebellion in 1775 and taken to Constantinople, where he was educated as a Turkish gentleman in the Sultan’s seraglio or enderun, which has won him the epithet of "Enderunlu".

Fázil’s five works were a Díwán (collection of short poems), three mesnevís (poems written in rhyming couplets) named respectively Defter-i ‘Ashq or Love’s Register, Khúban-Náme or The Book of Beautiful Boys, and Zenán-Náme or The Book of Women, and a poem in four-line stanzas entitled Chengí-Náme or The Book of Dancers. The last four of these were erotic to varying degrees, and three of them exclusively about Greek love.  Even the one of them about women has so many references to the superior attraction of boys as to be of great Greek love interest.

The four erotic poems “form together a small volume containing about 2,650 couplets, the fate of which is to be alternately printed and suppressed in the Turkish capital.”[1] Unfortunately, the only one of them to have been translated into European languages appears to have been The Book of Women, which was done into French by M. St. J. Bondin in 1895, and thence into English by Powys Mathers in 1927.

As a result, the pitiful but best available in English on most of Fazil’s poems is mere descriptions of them. Much the most informative of these is E. J. W. Gibb’s A History of Ottoman Poetry, volume IV (London, 1905) pp. 220-242. Unfortunately, Gibb deplored Fazil’s romantic and sexual preference for boys. Accordingly, he broadly deprecated his work and declined to translate any of it except some short excerpts from The Book of Women, but all he said about Fazil’s other poems is presented here, together with different perspectives offered in very short summaries by others.

 

The importance of Fazil’s poems

1. E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry IV (London, 1905) pp. 220-1:

The 2nd Courtyard of the Seraglio (where Fazil was educated),  Topkapi Palace, by Luigi Mayer, 1788

Turkish Romanticism culminates in the work of Fázil Bey. Revolt against traditional authority, assertion of individuality, local colour, unbridled license alike in matter and in manner, whatever in short distinguishes this movement from the Classicism which precedes and the Modernism which follows, is here present in fullest measure, inspiring and permeating the works of this author, and placing them at once among the most interesting and the least beautiful in all the range of Ottoman poetry.

[…] his works are full of interest. For in these we have not only the revelation of a marked individuality, but a veritable treasury of the folk-lore of the author’s age and country. Many are the curious customs and traditions that arc mentioned, sometimes described in detail; and besides we have here, what we get nowhere else, a full and clear account of the way in which the old Turks, while yet absolutely uninfluenced by Western ideas, viewed the various nationalities with whom they had come in contact, whether within or without the frontiers of their Empire. The plain matter of fact way in which Fázil says what he has to say, while hurtful to his work on the poetic or artistic side, is an additional advantage from our standpoint; for by means of this, vagueness and conventional generalities are avoided, and precision and definiteness are attained.

 

2. E. Powys Mathers, in the Introduction to his Eastern Love Volume III (London, 1927):

Perhaps the main importance of these two poems [the Book of Beauties and the Book of Women] is that they provide the only concise document existing of the manner in which the old Turks, while as yet untouched by Western thought, considered the various nations with which they had come in contact. Also, if Zenan-Nameh gives no very distinct picture of all the women of the world, it at least provides one of the clearest to be found anywhere of the mentality of a Turkish artist in the Eighteenth Century.

 

Fazil’s sources

1. E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry IV (London, 1905) pp. 221:

The education offered to the youths who were admitted to the Seraglio was, so far as culture went, the best then obtainable in Turkey, and of this young Fázil took full advantage. Nothing seems to have escaped unobserved by the quick-witted Arab lad; and it is most likely that it was during his residence here that he obtained from eunuchs and others familiar with the more recondite mysteries of the imperial pleasure-house many of the curious details which he afterwards embodied in his works. In these works he gives some interesting particulars concerning his life in the Palace, notably of his love-adventures, disappointment with the result of one of which, he says, induced him to quit the Imperial residence in the year 1198 (1783 — 4).[2]

 

2.Anthony Reid, The Eternal Flame, volume I (Elmshurst, New York, 1992) p. 361:

Superbly educated in the Imperial Seraglio, he was able to consort with eunuchs, and learn bizarre facts relating to that unique love-establishment. And he was involved in many curious adventures himself.

 

3. Joseph Allen Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism (New York, 2014) p. 262:

Fazil Bey’s origins may have influenced his fascination with detailing the charms of lads across cultures. Like many handsome youths brought to Istanbul to be trained as pages in the old Seraglio [...], Fazil was a spoil of war: his father [...] had participated in an unsuccessful insurgency that led to his execution. The head of the occupying Ottoman army was so taken with the good looks of young Fazil  and his brother that the two were presented to the Sultan as tribute-slaves. Fazil rose within the Ottoman bureaucracy to assume various posts, fell out of favor, suffered exile on Rhodes, received a pardon from Selim III, and spent his last years back in Istanbul.

 

Sultan Selim III, murdered in 1808, by Joseph Warnia-Zarzecki

The Díwán

J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry IV (London, 1905) pp. 223-4:

The Díwán of Fázil, where alone among his works the proprieties are treated with due respect, is much on a par with similar contemporary collections, though perhaps the workmanship is on the whole a little more careful than is usual about this time. The most original poem in it is an ode in praise of the much-reviled Sphere. It contains besides a number of fairly successful love ghazels, several religious poems and a long elegy on Sultan Selím the Martyr, in which several details of his murder are given, including the names of the assassins. But the Díwán is the least interesting part of Fázil’s literary output, and until we turn to his other works we find but little to mark him out from the crowd of his contemporaries.

 

Love’s Register

J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry IV (London, 1905) pp. 224-7:

Love’s Register would thus be the latest of the three [mesnevís], the date of its composition being incidentally mentioned as 1210 (1795-6). Although thus slightly later than the others in chronological order, it will perhaps be best for us to take this last-named book first, as in it Fázil fully expounds his theory of love, some acquaintance with which will assist us in understanding the motive underlying the bulk of his work.

In the Defter-i ‘Ashq or Love’s Register, the title of which suggests its contents, Fázil chooses a subject which, as he himself asserts, is absolutely new in Turkish poetry, namely a detailed and circumstantial account of the successive love episodes by which his career has been marked. This at least was the author’s purpose, but as a matter of fact we have only four of such love affairs bringing the story down to the year 1199 (1784-5), at which point the book ends abruptly without any formal conclusion. We are therefore constrained to assume that the work as it has come down to us is only a fragment of what the author originally projected, but for some reason or another never brought to completion.

As was to be expected, the objects of the poet’s love are all youths. Fázil was a man of the Romantic Period and far from insensible to the charms of the fair sex, as his Zenán-Náme abundantly testifies. But he lived a century too early to place woman in the front rank; at the time when he wrote the old tradition handed down from ancient Greece and medieval Persia was yet potent, though no one in his day dealt it a more deadly blow than did he himself. In order to reassure us that the ‘amorous enthusiasms' he is about to record were purely Platonic, Fázil opens his book with a description of beauty and love, as he conceives them, which is immediately followed by a description of the true lover.

While there is, of course, nothing new in these introductory verses, they are not without a certain nobility. Beauty, we are told, wherever it is seen, whether in humanity or in the vegetable or mineral world, is God’s revelation of Himself; He is the all-beautiful, those objects in which we perceive beauty being, as it were, so many mirrors in each of which some fraction of His essential self is reflected. By virtue of its Divine origin, the beauty thus perceived exercises a subtle influence over the beholder, awakening in him the sense of love, whereby he is at last enabled to enter into communion with God Himself. Thus God is the ultimate object of every lover’s passion; but while this is as yet unrealised by the lover, while he still imagines that the earthly fair one is the true inspirer and final goal of his affection, his love is still in the ‘typal’ stage, and he himself still upon that allegoric ‘Bridge’.

So Love, says Fázil, is the guide to the World Above, the stair leading up to the portal of Heaven; through the fire of Love iron is transmuted into gold, and the dark clay turned into a shining gem. Love it is that makes the heedless wise, and changes the ignorant into an adept of the Divine mysteries; Love is the unveiler of the Truth, the hidden way into the Sanctuary of God. And as for the true Lover, he is pure of heart and holy of life, worldly things are of no account with him, dust and gold being equal in his eyes; generosity and gentleness distinguish him; carnal desire stirs him not, indeed if his beloved approach, he begins to tremble in all his limbs while he dares not look upon the fair one’s face or display sign or emotion. Do not, says Fázil, addressing the materialistic age in which he wrote, think that such words are vain ; if you will not believe me, search the ancient books, for this of which I speak is the 'antique love’. But now, he adds, another kind of love is studied. Then follows a description of the sensualist, which the poet closes with the words: “Such an one I call not lover, I call him lecher.”

The Sultan Selim III holding an audience in front of the Gate of Felicity, Topkapı Palace, by Konstantin Kapıdağlı, 1789

Having thus cleared the ground by explaining what he means by ‘love’ and ‘lover’, Fázil, after a brief panegyric on the reigning Sultan, Selím III, goes on to set forth the considerations which induced him to undertake this work. Ever since the eyes of his understanding were opened, he says, he has been the prey of love ; he has fallen from snare into snare, and has sought out sorrow after sorrow; his poor heart, which is a rosebud of love, has been the spoil of the hand of love; his heart-jewel has been trodden under foot, has been made a plaything by many a child. The throne of his heart, be continues, has been as a tilt-yard whence King has driven King; never has the realm of his bosom been unoccupied, there lord has succeeded lord ; but these have not acted like other Kings, neither have they obeyed the ancient laws; yet this dynasty has lorded it in his bosom to the number of twenty-two. Wishing to give this line of sovereigns a name, he will call it the Dynasty of Shá’ban; some of the princes were cruel, some were just, some were wise, some were foolish, but his desire is to enumerate them all, and thus to write a new history, — in a word, to describe every beauty who has held sway over him since first he fell a victim to Love. He further swears that he will set down the whole truth concerning them, and relate everything exactly as it happened, so that his work may be a memorial of these days and at the same time a Sháh-Náme for the  dynasty of Shá’ban.

The purport of the book having been announced as above, Fázil proceeds to tell his story. He begins by saying that in the year 1190 (1776-7) the storms of the sea of destiny drove him from the Arab lands to Rum, where he was placed in the Seraglio, being enrolled in the second company of the Imperial Pages, that known as the Khazína Odasi or Treasury Chamber. Then comes the account of the four love-adventures already referred to, an account which it is unnecessary to follow in detail, but which brings the story of the author’s life down to 1199 {1784-5). There is one point, however, of importance as helping to fix the order of the works, that is, the incidental mention in the account of the third of these adventures of the year 1210 (1795-6) as that in which the poet is writing the book. In the account of the fourth adventure Fázil takes advantage of an incident to introduce a long and detailed description of Gipsy wedding customs, which is full of interest from a folklore point of view. As I have said, the Dafter-i ‘Ashq comes to a sudden termination with this fourth episode; the closing passage is curious and striking, the author tells us how some six years after the events just narrated he unexpectedly came across that particular object of his admiration vilely and foully metamorphosed, and how terrible was the shock which he received from this encounter.

 

The Book of Beautiful Boys

1. E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry IV (London, 1905) pp. 224 & 227-233:

The earliest written of the mesnevís is the Book of Beauties, the date of which is given by a chronogram as 1207 (1792-3).

In the Khúbán-Náme, or Book of Beauties, and the Zenán-Náme, or Book of Women, we have the ultimate outcome of the Shehr-engíz. Mesíhí and his imitators gave us in their poems playfully written catalogues of the fair boys or girls of a certain city; Fázil gives us in these two books playfully written descriptions of the boys and girls of all the races of mankind. That style which has all along characterised poems of this class, whether of the original type or modified as in the works of Beligh, that whimsical and quizzical yet complimentary style bristling with proverbs and puns which we have learned to associate with such productions, is here adopted by Fázil with marked success.

Ottoman map of the world, 1803

As their general scheme is the same, these two books can, up to a certain point, be considered together. The Book of Beauties describes the boys, and the Book of Women the girls of the following countries and nationalities: India; Persia (including Central Asia); Baghdad; Cairo; the Súdán; Abyssinia; Yemen; Morocco; Algiers and Tunis; Hijáz (including the Bedouins); Damascus and Syria generally; Aleppo; Anatolia; the Islands of the Archipelago; Constantinople; the Greeks; the Armenians; the Jews; the Gipsies; Rumelia; Albania; Bosnia; the Tartars; the Georgians; the Circassians ; the Franks of Constantinople (i. e. the Levantines); the Bulgarians, Croats ; Wallachians, and Moldavians; France; Poland; the Germans; Spain; England; Holland; Russia; America.

Constantinopolitan boy in a ms. of The Book of Beautiful Boys (Istanbul University Library)

Now while Fázil was no doubt a man of much experience, and though he may have been only exaggerating when he said that if he saw a boy in the bath (i. e. stripped of his distinctive costume), he could tell his nationality before he heard him speak, yet it is obviously impossible that he can have been on intimate terms with individuals of both sexes belonging to all the races just enumerated. But the Imperial Seraglio, where the poet was brought up, was mostly peopled by foreigners. Within that portion of this assemblage of gardens and palaces which was set apart for the household of the Sultan, and which formed a little world by itself cut off from all direct communication with outside, there was, especially in earlier times, hardly a single native Turk. The four chambers of pages, the two corps of eunuchs (black and white), as well as the harem, used all to be recruited, like the regiment of Janissaries, cither from non-Turkish subjects of the Empire, or from foreign captives. At one time or another doubtless representatives of all the nationalities mentioned by Fázil have found their way within the Seraglio walls. In the old days when hostilities were chronic between Turkey and Christendom forays were continually being made along the ever-shifting northern frontier, and Frankish ships were constantly being taken and Frankish coasts raided by Algerine corsairs. On such occasions as many young persons of either sex as could be laid hands on were seized, and the most beautiful among them sent to the capital. There the most promising were, as in the case of Fázil himself, placed in the Seraglio and educated as Turks. In this way representatives of many races must during a period of over three centuries have passed through the Imperial household. It is most probable that traditions concerning the characteristics of these would be preserved, and if such were the case, Fázil, who was very intelligent and took a keen interest in collecting out of the way information, would undoubtedly have availed himself of his excellent opportunities to become acquainted with them.

Anatolian boy in a ms. of The Book of Beautiful Boys (Istanbul Univ. Library)

But the description of the features, physical and moral, of the various races that he passes in review forms only a portion, and in some cases a small portion, of the poet’s account of these. Whatever he has been able to pick up regarding local peculiarities or the manners and customs of foreign peoples, is here set down, with the occasional embellishment of a very obvious ‘traveller’s tale’, which, as a rule, the writer offers for what it may be worth. What confers a special interest on Fázil’s treatment of these matters, already interesting in themselves, is that here, and here alone, we have presented in a series of pictures, many of which are drawn in considerable detail, the various nations of the world as these appeared to the educated Turks of olden times. For though the author was an Arab by birth, he felt as a Turk and wrote as a Turk; he depreciates his Syrian birthplace just as a native Turk might; and when he speaks about the Russians it is with the hatred engendered by centuries of wrongs.

Fázil’s attitude towards the two sexes may at first sight appear strange. He is much more reticent in dealing with his boys than with his girls. The physical merits or demerits of the former are almost invariably referred to in the most vague and general way, and the author’s attitude is on the whole one of respect. But he deals with the girls in very different fashion, their personal charms being discussed without reserve, sometimes with a wealth of detail that is almost medical.

Christian of the Ottoman Empire in a ms. of The Book of Beautiful Boys

The reason of this is not hard to divine. To an Oriental of those days it was an accepted fact, indisputable and undisputed, that a noble-minded man might, and often did, entertain for a boy an amorous affection in which the profoundest admiration was conjoined with the most perfect purity; an affection, moreover, the cultivation of which tended above all things to the moral advancement of the lover, calling out whatever was best and highest in his nature. On the other hand, if a man desired a woman, it could be for one thing only. So Fázil perfectly logically dwells most, when discussing his boys, on the way in which these are likely to appeal to the aesthetic instincts of his readers, and when describing his girls, on the degree of their suitability for the one purpose for which he conceives they can be desired. Thus in this pair of books we have presented to us more clearly than anywhere else in Turkish literature the attitude of the typical Eastern poet-lover towards the sexes, that attitude which is the direct antithesis of our own, through virtue of which what with us is reckoned shame was accounted honour, and what we hold for our glory and our boast was esteemed disgrace. And yet it is but in the object through which the sentiment of love is evoked that the difference lies; in their highest conceptions of true love with its soul-transforming power East and West are one.

Elias John Wilkinson Gibb, orientalist, ca. 1898

But although Fázil’s appreciation of womanhood is thus poor and inadequate, that he should have written a Zenán-Náme at all is a long step in the right direction. The physical beauty at any rate of woman is now admitted as a fit theme for poetry; no future ‘Atá’í will ransack Qámús and Burhán to overwhelm with obloquy another Baqá’í; the work begun by Sábit and Nedím with timid and hesitating hand is here taken up by Fázil and carried boldly on; other poets are ready to push forward where he leaves off; and at last woman as woman is free to meet her ancient rival, the androgynous beauty of old-world tradition. And thus the minds of men are being prepared for the great change which the coming years shall bring, so that when in the fullness of time the poets of the Modern School arise and enthrone woman as the one fitting object of every true man’s love, the consummation thus effected is hailed with universal enthusiasm, and those through whom it is accomplished are enrolled among the benefactors of their nation.

Russian boy in a ms. of The Book of Beautiful Boys (Istanbul Univ. Library)

The Book of Beauties opens with a few lines praising God who has given such beauty to humanity, and calling attention to the marvellous diversity in creation through which no two individuals are exactly alike. This is followed by a short prayer for the prosperity of Sultan Selím, after which Fázil goes on to tell how he came to write the book. A few sentences (afterwards to be expanded in Love’s Register) inform us that while still young he was cast by the sling of Fate from land to land, and that wherever he has gone he has been the slave of Love, so that his heart has come to be like a seal-engraver’s register for the number of beauties names that are stamped on it.[3] This introduces us to the poet’s flame for the time being, who is represented as praying the author to write a book describing from his vast experience the peculiarities of the youths belonging to different peoples, a request to which a favourable answer is at once returned. This incident is almost certainly fictitious, for apart from the extreme unlikelihood of a person such as is described desiring a book of the kind, in a few verses at the close of the volume Fázil presents it as an offering to the statesman Ratib Efendi. But the invention of such stories to account for the genesis of a book was a very venerable tradition, and here at any rate Fázil seems to have approved of the conventional usage.

An illustration of dancing-boys performing from the Book of Beauties

The author then goes on to tell us how admirably fitted he is to undertake such a work, alike through his studies and his experience. The book, he says, is written throughout in simple language so that the lad, for whom he professes to have written, may easily understand it; it is moreover free from all padding, nor is there as much as one place where the envier may lay his finger. A chronogram at the end of the section fixes the date of composition as 1207 (1792-3). In the section which follows Fázil sets to work to make good his claim to erudition. Under pretext of instructing the boy, he lets us see that he knows all about the old mathematical and astrological geography which still passed for science in Turkey, the ostensible reason for the discourse being the influence exercised on the inhabitants by the several ‘climes’ and their ruling planets.

Then come the descriptions of the ‘beauties’ themselves, or more often of the various peoples to which these ‘beauties’ belong, they being frequently but an excuse. Interesting though it would be to examine these sections in detail, to do so would occupy so much space that I am reluctantly compelled to pass them over.

The descriptions are followed by a brief epilogue addressed to the lad for whom the poem is supposed to have been written; this is succeeded and the work brought to aa close by a short qasída in which Fazil presents the book to the luckless Rátib Efendi, who was presumably his patron at the time.

 

"The British Beauty Who Agitates Your Libido" in a ms. of The Book of Beauties (Istanbul Univ. Library)

2. Bernard Lewis, The Muslim Discovery of Europe (London, 2000) 290

Brought up in Istanbul he became famous for his erotic poems and, in particular, two lengthy poems, one on girls and the other on boys, describing them by nationality with an enumeration of the good and bad qualities, for the purposes Fazil Bey had in mind, of the various national groups. They include, in addition to the different ethnic groups in and near the Ottoman Empire, the Franks of Istanbul, the Danubians, the French, the Poles, the Germans, the Spaniards, the English, the Russians, the Dutch, and even the Americans, by which term Fazil Bey clearly means the Red Indians. There is no evidence that Fazil Bey ever traveled abroad but, as one who was brought up and lived in the Imperial Palace in Istanbul, he would have had ample opportunity to meet young women and young men of many nationalities. His descriptions of boys tend to be rather vague and reticent. His treatment of girls is much more explicit, filled with a mass of sometimes clinical detail.

 

3. Joseph Allen Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism (New York, 2014) p. 262:

The premise for the Huban-name is set forth in a frame poem, in which the poet is asked by his lover—metaphorically the "Sultan of the climes of the desolate heart"—to reveal “which nations are filled with the most beautiful countenances  of youths, which have the most beautiful men . . . tell me A to Z!”. Fazil Bey rises to his lover’s taxonomic challenge by writing a series of lyrics that reveal the charms not only of Moroccan boys and Greek rowdies, but of British, French, and even New World youths (each beautiful boy is identified by his national affiliation in the poem's title). The manuscript of this verse catalogue in the Istanbul University Library is interspersed with thirty-nine exquisite miniature paintings of such beaux. Each of these visual portraits reinforces the snapshot-like quality of the verses that the miniature accompanies. In addition, the illustrations accompanying the verses dedicated to mink-cheeked European dandies in all their frills and finery demonstrate that the West’s Orientalizing gaze was not a one-way street. Indeed, the one poem in the entire manuscript to earn an effusive title description that goes beyond place of origin is the verse dedicated to the British youth, titled "The British Beauty Who Agitates Your Libido."

 

Women relaxing in a park: an illustration in the British Library's ms. (Or. 7094) of the Book of Women

The Book of Women

As this has been translated into English, albeit indirectly and with deliberate distortion, and the Greek love content presented on a separate webpage, there is no need here for the feeble substitute of a description.  Gibb’s comments on it are presented there, in so far as they furnish a vital correction to the mistranslation.

 

The Book of Dancers

1. E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry IV (London, 1905) pp. 235-6:

Fázil’s remaining work, the Chengí-Náme, or Book of Dancers,[4] is much shorter than the others, from which it differs in being composed not in riming couplets, but in verses of four lines, the first three of which rime together, while the fourth has the same rime throughout, the book thus being in form like an extended murebba of the variety styled muzdevij. As regards subject, it is a descriptive list of the principal public dancing boys of Constantinople. The author declares that he once joined a party composed of cadis and other learned personages who were engaged in an animated discussion as to the merits of such-and-such youths of this class. Fázil, who was recognised as an authority on matters of the kind, was at once appealed to for his judgment; this book or treatise formed his answer. Perhaps the answer was framed to suit the audience ; but whether this be the case or not, the Chengí-Náme is infinitely more offensive than any other of the author’s works. Here all reticence is cast aside and all pretence of Platonicism abandoned; the wretched creatures, forty-three in all, are introduced by name, and described in a way that is indescribable. They are almost all Gipsies, from which people the ranks of the profession have at all times been most largely recruited. Many of the names on Fázil’s list are fanciful such as Darchin Guli, Cinnamon Rose, and Qanáriya, Canary; others are Greek as Todori (Theodore) and Yoraki (George). This little book affords a view, as seen from within, of what has ever been one of the darkest phases of life in Eastern cities, and so far it may perhaps claim a certain instructive value. That apart, it is worse than worthless; for though it was doubtless written as a joke, it is but poor pleasantry and in the vilest taste. It is without date or dedication.

 

2.Anthony Reid, The Eternal Flame, volume I (Elmshurst, New York, 1992) p. 362.

Chengi Name (Book of Dancers) describing 43 different boy-entertainers of Constantinople; all introduced by name and described in intimate detail, while their sexual activities are told with realism and verve. There is probably no more authentic expose of Turkish low life than this panegyric of the utter lewdness and cheerful debauchery of these colourful gipsy boys.

 

3. Excerpt by an unknown translator from http://www.academia.edu/9113643

Ottoman dancing-boy

Büyük Afet (in the meaning of Dangerously Beautiful), lovely Yorgaki’s pure body is like silver. His manner and heroic walk are unique in the world. His appearance and actions attract people to himself… Even if he gets into the lover’s nose, it is worth it. Andon was charming with his hands and mouth; he was like Iskender on the throne of coyness, he had two thousand lovers… Now flies have crowded on his face; ants have dropped on his sweety lips… Apparently, beauty is like a bird… The proportional body and stature of Misirli, the Shah of Çengis, are unique. He is of Jewish origin. When he starts to dance with his whole body, he drives the public crazy… He has a myriad of lovers. Both his face and his walk are pleasant; he looks more pleasant when he unfastens his shalvar… Kanarya erects his lovers’ tools… A nightingale among the beautiful… Our role near him is to hold candles…”

 

[1] E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry by, volume IV (London, 1905) p. 236.

[2] The word Enderúní, meaning connected with the Enderún or Seraglio, is often prefixed to the names of persons brought up in the Palace; thus our author is frequently called Enderúní Fázil Bey. [Note by Gibb]

[3] It is usual for a seal-engraver to keep a register of impressions of all the seals he cuts; the seal bears the name of the owner, and its impression used to serve as signature. [Note by Gibb]

[4] The book is sometimes called Raqqás-Náme, which has the same meaning. [Note by Gibb].