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Fatih Sultan Mehmed and Ahmed Pasha

By Elveo
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Sultan Mehmed Fatih and his poet Ahmed Paşa (d. 1496-97. Also Mehmed’s lala - tutor and advisor). This is the rubai of Ahmed Pasha:

The world shines when this candle talks sweetly
But cries when his feet in iron chains.
His lips are like the sweets of Shiraz,
Their price is worth Egypt, Samarkand add Bukhara.

 Translated by me (©Elveo). Original Ottoman-turkish verse:

Cihan yansın ki ol sem’-i şeker-hand
Yatar giryan ayağında demir bend
Lebi Şîrâzî helvâdır satarsa
Değer Mısr u Buhârâ vü Semerkand

Actually, the story with Conqueror and his poet Ahmed involves strongly homosexual themes…

“Ahmed Pasha is considered by many to be the first great Ottoman poet. Although there were several talented poets before him who wrote in the Western Turkic dialect that would later be referred to as the Ottoman dialect, he is associated with the culture of the Ottoman state at a crucial initial stage of its ascent to world prominence and was the poet considered by the Ottoman poets themselves to be the true founder of their tradition. Ahmed Pasha was born in either Edirne (Adrianople) or Bursa some-time in the early years of the fifteenth century. His father was one Veliyuddin, who served as chief military judge during the reign of Sultan Murad II (1413-1421). Ahmed was well educated and in the course of his career served as a professor, local judge, and chief military judge to Sultan Mehmed II (2451-1481). His intelligence and wit attracted the attention of the Sultan, who following the conquest of Istanbul (in 1453) had gathered about him a brilliant circle of intellectuals, artists, and poets. Ahmed’s popularity at court rose rapidly; he was promoted to the offices of Special Tutor (lala) to the Sultan and subsequently to the office of Vizier—one of the highest positions in the land. After a time, he fell precipitously from favor. There are several stories that purport to describe his fall. The two most common versions are as follows. The first version is by a sixteenth century biographer of poets, Latifi:

“Concerning the late aforementioned, it was widely known and commented upon that he was exceedingly a boy-chaser and love-addict, that out of the clamor and ardor of his spirit he was drunk with passion and hand-in-glove with love. On account of this condition, he greatly loathed women and the pursuit of women and scrupulously avoided both their companionship and their very company. He was the prince of princes in the Worlds of abandoning mundane relationships and never imagined or conceived of wedding or kissing or embracing, a woman. He was the prince of princes in the Worlds of abandoning mundane relationships and never imagined or conceived of wedding or kissing or embracing, a woman. It has been heard that his lordship Мehmed Han one day disciplined one of his imperial pages —a slender, cypress-bodied boy by putting him in chains, thus harvesting the seed of irritation and punishment in the field of rage and anger. When the Pasha saw that bondsman bound in those bonds there issued forth from, one after the other, in a flash of inspiration, the following lines:

Let the earth burn, for that candle which feeds on sugar
Lies weeping, his feet bound in iron chains
His lips is a sweet from Shiraz, which were it sold
Would cost all Egypt, Bukhara and Samarkand

When these verses reached the ears of his lordship Sultan Mehmed, he had the abovementioned Pasha imprisoned in the Seven Towers.”

(Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology (Publications on the Near East) Bad Najaat Black, Mehmet Kalpakli)

I have collected all this most interesting information on Ahmed Pasha, so the story goes on pretty well:

“Imprisoned there, in the hope of moving the clemency of the Sultan, Ahmed Pasha composed and sent out to him his famous Kerem Qasidasi "Grace Qasida,” so called because the word kerem “grace” forms its redif. It commences thus:

O a drop from grace’s ocean! Thou that art the Main of grace!
Fills thy hand’s cloud bounty’s flowery garden with the rain of grace.
Should the slave do wrong, what harm then if the King of kings forgive?
Were my two hands steeped in blood, blood’s dye away were taken of grace!
What the grace that can be vanquished, aye, and even slain of sin!
What the sin not to be vanquished, aye, and even slain of grace?
Water drowns not, no, it fosters these things which itself hath reared;
Wherefore then should overwhelm me ruin from the Main of grace?

This poetical petition had the desired effect, for Mehmed, who was a sort of Harunu-ar-Reshid, was so pleased that he not only forgave the Pasha, but presented him with the page; he, however, banished him to Brusa, with the appointment of director of the legacies of the Mosque of Sultan Murad.

(“Ottoman literature; the poets and poetry of Turkey” by Gibb, Elias John Wilkinson, 1857-1901. Published c.1901)

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anonymous's avatar
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08coconut13's avatar
Is it Mehmet II the conqueror  or another one?
Elveo's avatar
08coconut13's avatar
Do you think he is gay ?
Elveo's avatar
Well I would not "limit" Fatih to that label, but definitely he wasn't heterosexual. And you're welcome.
Hermetic-Wings's avatar
So interestşng toı read such words. Thanks for sharing your art and such interesting knowledge with us :D
Elveo's avatar
It's a pleasure, brother :3
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