“This World is Falling to Pieces, Do Not Expect it to Get Better in Our Time”: Nazires to the Famous Poem of Sultan Mustafa IIIİsmail Avcı
The Turkish word nazire (reply in kind) is derived from the Arabic root nazara and describes a response poem. This article analyzes a poem consisting of two couplets by Mustafa III, the 26th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and its nazires. This poem is significant in that it was written by an active sultan of the Ottoman Empire and criticized the Ottoman bureaucracy coming to its downfall due to the lack of trustworthy and qualified sovereigns. At least 17 nazires were published in response to the poem. This article first provides brief information about Mustafa III and the state of the Ottoman Empire during his reign; then, it discusses his prominent poem as well the nazires to the poem and their authors. This article aims to expound on the conditions on the frontiers of the Ottoman Empire at the time and to discover even more nazires in response to the aforesaid poem of Mustafa III.
“Yıkılupdur Bu Cihân Sanma ki Bizde Düzele”: Sultan III. Mustafa’nın Meşhur Nazmına Yazılan Nazirelerİsmail Avcı
Bu çalışmada Osmanlı’nın 26. hükümdarı III. Mustafa’nın söylediği iki beyitlik nazım ve bu nazma söylenmiş nazireler konu edilmiştir. III. Mustafa’nın daha tahta çıktığı ilk bir iki yılda söylediği bu şiir, Osmanlı Devleti’nin askerî, sosyal ve ekonomik bakımlardan gerilemeye, bozulmaya başladığı dönemin bir eleştirisi, devletin içinde bulunduğu durumun belgesi niteliğindedir. Bu şiiri önemli kılan husus bizzat devletin başında bulunan padişah tarafından söylenmiş olmasıdır. Şiirde güvenilir ve iyi yetişmiş yönetici eksikliği üzerinden çökmekte olan Osmanlı bürokrasisinin eleştirisi vardır. Sözü edilen şiire, yazılır yazılmaz nazireler söylenmiştir. Tespit edilebildiği kadarıyla bu nazirelerin sayısı 17’dir ve nazireler şu şairlere aittir: Koca Râgıb Paşa, Şeyhülislam Küçük Çelebizâde İsmail Âsım Efendi, Enderunî Hazineli Şeyh Râsih Efendi, Şâkir Mehmed Hâkim, Derunî Ali Uşşakî, Hâkim Selim Efendi, Şeyh Mehmed Uşşakî, Hâkim Mehmed Efendi, Şeyhzâde Süleyman Uşşakî, Şabân Efendi Uşşakî, Hüsâmeddin, Dâniş Efendi, Hıfzîzâde, Mihalicî Kâzî-i Uşşak. Çalışmada önce III. Mustafa ve onun devrinde devletin içinde bulunduğu durum hakkında kısaca bilgi verilmiş, ardından onun meşhur nazmı ve müellifleriyle birlikte bu nazma söylenmiş nazireler üzerinde durulmuştur. Makalenin, Osmanlı mülkünde böyle bir şiirin yazılmasına sebep olan şartları ortaya koyma ve III. Mustafa’nın nazmına söylenmiş yeni nazireleri tespit etme bakımlarından literatüre katkı yapması beklenmektedir.
As a literary term, a nazire (reply in kind) is a poem that acts as a response and uses the same prosody, rhyme, and tone as the “base poem.” In Turkish literature, examples of reply in kind are available in almost all kinds of verse, especially in the forms of masnavi, eulogy, mustezat, and musammat; however, the majority of the examples are odes. The poems discussed in this review are nazires written in response to the renowned “verse” of Mustafa III, the 26th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire.
Mustafa III (1129–1187/1717–1774) served as 26th Sultan of the Ottoman Empire between 1757 and 1774. Research suggests Mustafa III was a merciful, benevolent, generous, traditional, righteous, and prudent sultan who used his best efforts to reign in good faith. Mustafa III wrote various poems under the pseudonyms of “Cihangîr,” “İkbal,” and “İkbalî.”
The famous poem by Mustafa III as cited in almost all resources referring to the Ottoman sultan is roughly translated into modern language as follows: “This world goes to rack and ruin, do not expect it to get better in our time. Besides, the vile fate has handed over the state to completely contemptible people. Hence, those who are now at the gates of bliss (in the government) are troublemakers and corrupt people. Henceforward, our only hope remains at the mercy of the God.”
It is reported that Mustafa III wrote the aforesaid poem during the first or second year of his accession to the Ottoman throne in response to the lack of experienced, trustworthy, and welleducated officials serving for the purpose of reforming the state, which had begun a gradual downturn, to reclaim its former strength. The Sultan despaired at the dire military, political, and economic conditions of the state gradually worsening and summarized his thoughts in these two couplets. It is interesting that such verses were written by an Ottoman sultan who was meticulous and extremely prudent in all respects. Although similar concerns had been identified by high-ranking officials previously as well, no sultan had ever explicitly expressed such concerns with a view to protect the perpetuity of the Ottoman Empire.
Six of the replies in kind in response to the famous verse of Mustafa III were previously introduced through an article to the academic world. Our research identified 11 additional works to make a total of 17. Found in the National Library, Isıklı Library, Gazi Husrev Bey Library in Sarajevo, Târîh-i Enderûn, and Âdâb-ı Zurafâ, these works were written by the following poets: Koca Râgıb Paşa, Şeyhülislamı Küçük Çelebizâde İsmail Âsım Efendi, Enderunî Hazineli Şeyh Râsih Efendi, Şâkir Mehmed Hâkim, Derunî Ali Uşşakî, Hâkim Selim Efendi, Şeyh Mehmed Uşşakî, Hâkim Mehmed Efendi (2 works), Şeyhzâde Süleyman Uşşakî (2 works), Şabân Efendi Uşşakî (2 works), Hüsâmeddin, Dâniş Efendi, Hıfzîzâde, and Mihalicî Kâzî-i Uşşak.
As significant examples of the Ottoman tradition of writing replies in kind, such works have helped discover some previously unknown poets, some of who only have one work. In addition, some of these recently identified poems are new additions to the catalogue of works of some known poets.
The majority of such works were found to be contained in three journals, clearly proving once more the significance of journals (mecmua) in Turkish literature. As the number of studies conducted on journals increases over time, it could be possible to discover other examples of reply in kind in response to the aforesaid verse of Mustafa III.