[Ḫayâlî] (c. 1500–57)

The dervish-poet Hayâlî was born and grew up in Yenice-i Vardar, a typical Ottoman town established in the northwest vicinity of Salonica by Evrenos Ghazi, one of the more famous conquering ghazis anddervish warriors’ of the early Ottoman period. According to ʽÂşık Çelebi’s tezkire – biography of poets (Meşâ’irü’ş-Şuʽârâ), Hayâlî was brought up with Saʽdi’s Bûstân and Gülistân like all Ottoman medrese students, but was attracted to a wandering Kalenderî dervish, Baba ʽAlî, known as Mest-i ʽAcem (the ‘Drunkard of Persia’). He joined his band as a dancing youth (köçek) and followed him to Istanbul where he continued on the Sufi path until he caught the eye of a disapproving judge who entrusted him to a police superintendent (muhtesib).  Hayâlî then acquired a more formal education but also achieved considerable fame as a poet, to the extent that the grand vizier Ibrahim Paşa became his patron. Ultimately, he entered the court of Süleyman the Magnificent where he further enhanced his renown as a dervish-poet.  He accompanied the Sultan to the siege of Rhodes in 1522 and the ‘conquest’ of Baghdad (from the Safavids), where some say he met the great local poet, Fuzûlî.  After the hanging of his patron Ibrahim Paşa he fell out of grace as well, though his poetic and other skills secured him the post of a provincial governor (sancakbeyi) in the erstwhile heartlands of the ghazis close to Edirne in Thrace.


The gazel reproduced below is discussed in Walter Andrews’ chapter, ‘Ottoman Poetry: Where the Neoplatonic Dissolves into an Emotional Script for Life’ (FoI 169–87). In his verse-by verse analysis Andrew demonstrates how the poem, in a startling alignment, combines the language and imagery of the mystical love (ʽişq/ʽaşk) with allusions to Hayâlî’s own life-story and worldly voyage.


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1. ‘Alphabet’ = ḥurūf, ‘divine ideal forms’.


Çavuşoğlu M. (1987), Hayâlī Bey ve Divânından Örnekler (Ankara, Kültür ve Turizm Bakanlığı Yayınları 708). English translation by © Walter G. Andrews.