Yunus Emre

Poetry on Peace

Yunus Emre:

Find Perfect Peace
A Single Word
The Inner Man

Edited by Peter Y. Chou


Knowledge is to understand
To understand who you are.
If you know not who you are
What's the use of learning?

The aim in learning is
To understand God's Truth.
Because without knowledge
It is wasted hard labour.

Do not say: I know it all,
I am obedient to my God.
If you know not who God is
That is sheer idle talk.

Twenty-eight syllables
You read from end to end.
You name the first aleph
What can it possibly mean?

Yunus Emre says also
Let me receive what I need.
The best possible thing
Is to find perfect peace.

Yunus Emre (1238-1321)
Translated by Taner Baybars
(poem in Turkish)



A single word can brighten the face
of one who knows the value of words.
Ripened in silence, a single word
acquires a great energy for work.

War is cut short by a word,
and a word heals the wounds,
and there's a word that changes
poison into butter and honey.

Let a word mature inside yourself.
Withhold the unripened thought.
Come and understand the kind of word
that reduces money and riches to dust.

Know when to speak a word
and when not to speak at all.
A single word turns a universe of hell
into eight paradises.

Follow the Way. Don't be fooled
by what you already know. Be watchful.
Reflect before you speak.
A foolish mouth can brand your soul.

Yunus, say one last thing
about the power of words—
Only the word "I"
divides me from God.

Poem 11 from Yunus Emre's
The Drop that Became the Sea
Translated by Kabir Helminski & Refik Algan



The inner man knows no worries on this path.
The inner heart does not know death.

Bodies perish, but not the soul. Those who are gone don't return.
Bodies are for dying. That's not what a soul is for.

The heart will never find the pearl it seeks,
even in a thousand years, unless it's given.

Be careful, your Beloved's heart is easily broken.
Such fine crystal once shattered is never restored.

And unless you put your cup to the fountain,
even in a thousand years it won't be filled.

Both Khidr* and Elias drank the water of life.
These days they are not dead.

The world was made for the sake of the Prophet and his friendship.
Those who come to this world do not remain.

Yunus, today while you have eyes to see, do what you must.
Those who attain do not come back.

* Khidr in Islamic tradition is an immortal who may appear
in human form to give help and guidance to those in need.

Poem 43 from Yunus Emre's
The Drop that Became the Sea

Yunus Emre (1238-1321),
The Drop that Became the Sea: Lyric Poems of Yunus Emre
(translated from the Turkish by Kabir Helminski & Refik Algan)
Threshold Books, Putney, Vermont, pp. 28, 77

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© Peter Y. Chou,
P.O. Box 390707, Mountain View, CA 94039
email: (3-17-2003)