(At a young age, Ali Izzet became an asik or ashik — a wandering minstrel who travels throughout the country composing and singing songs, accompanied by the stringed saz. He was both a Sufi and a social activist.  Although he didn’t have much formal education, his work came to be widely appreciated in his lifetime and he published his poems in books and journals, performing in many of the great halls of Turkey. Later in life he was persecuted for his leftist politics and he died in relative obscurity in Ankara in 1981. His songs and poetry, however, have enjoyed a revival and are widely appreciated today.)

Appreciating beauty is said to be a virtue.
To see beauty beautifully
is beautiful.

Those who have a beautiful beloved in Paradise are beautiful.
To travel the path of beauty,
is beautiful.

The sun rises from the beautiful one’s eyebrows.
The beautiful one’s teeth are just like pearls.
To share beautiful food at Beauty’s table
is beautiful.

To linger with the beautiful one beautifully
is beautiful —

To write the beautiful name:
beautiful —

To drink with the beautiful one:
beautiful —

To kiss the hand of the beautiful one:
beautiful.

The light drips from the cheeks of the beautiful.
Honey drips from the lips of the beautiful.

Hold the hand of the beautiful beautifully.
To serve the beautiful one
is beautiful.

The eyes that perceive beauty will never suffer.
Who loves beauty may die but will never decay;

Ali Izzet never shies away from beauty —
To love beauty from the depths of one’s soul
is beautiful.

 

English version by Jennifer Ferraro & Latif Bolat