The Poetry of Muhsin Ilyas Subaşı

The Mountains and Me 


















If I loaded all the mountains on my back

Would dark-eyed deer flee from my arms? 


If I took refuge at the mountain top

Would my dearest be waiting for me there?


Mountains are hope and devotion in my heart

I lose myself in the mountains, and I find myself there


A rainy night is one thing, a snowy one yet another,

Springtime there casts a magic spell over our feelings


The mountains solve puzzles with the stars

Someday, they will yield the beloved I await


The mountains have washed away the tears of so many lovers

The mountains know how I have suffered from passionate love


The clouds dance on their peaks with one thousand loves

The rain rinses clear the emerald tresses of its crest


Each sad awakening turns to adoration in my heart

Someday, I will find my beloved in your embrace


The mountains give crazed lovers neither expectations nor roses

The mountains melt into the tears of my Leyla!


Translated by Hakan Pekel and Katharine Branning

*Note from translators:

An explanation of the meaning of Leyla is necessary to understand this poem. The connotation of Leyla is a complex concept in the Islamic world, and bears many mystical meanings. This poem by Muhsin Ilyas Subaşi is both an ode to the glory of mountains and an illustration of the concept of Leyla. The name Leyla means “Night Beauty” in Arabic, but it symbolizes more than a simple first name.

In Persian and Arabic poetry, Leyla was a beautiful girl with whom the poet Majnun falls in love. When Majnun asks for her hand in marriage, Leyla's father refuses to give his permission to the match. Leyla is married off to another man and later dies, pining for Majnun. Majnun's love for Leyla eventually drives him mad. In this sense, the story of Leyla symbolizes unattainable love.

For many people, Leyla is simply the lady love that you hope one day to meet, the beloved that will drive you to madness, so deeply do you care for her. For others, she holds the true answers about life, and the key to discovering love. Some people explain that she is the most valuable person in your life, and who is a gift for you from God.

Many people seek her in their lives, and write beautiful questions to her, as in this poem by Muhsin Ilyas Subaşi. They are seeking answers from her, and when the questions are answered, they will know they have come from Leyla, this symbol of hope and dreams. The questions directed to her about life are as important as her answers. Everyone’s Leyla is different. Perhaps she is right in front of us, yet we cannot feel her. In this sense she serves as the mirror in which we can look at ourselves and the rest of the world, and to remind us of the beauties of life and to review life carefully.

Furthermore, the concept of Leyla bears many meanings in Sufism. As Sufis believe that the paths to find God are many and varied, Leyla and her multiple interpretations have come to symbolize one of these paths of the mystic quest. As Jalal al-Din Rumi (d.1273) stated: “Though the many ways are various, the goal is one. Do you not see there are many roads to the Kaaba

In some Sufi orders the goal of the mystical quest is personified as a woman, usually named Leyla. The attractive physical charms of women lıke Leyla are used to refer to the Divine, as love for material beauties has the potential to transform to a real love to the One Who is All-Beautiful, the source of all love and splendor. In the Sufi tradition, Majnun’s love toward Leyla is considered to be transformed from Aşk-i Mecazi (ordinary love toward the other sex) to Aşk-i Hakiki (true love toward God) and thus symbolizes the path to the reunion with the Divine (wuslat). Leyla can thus be considered as the Divine Reality that is manifest in all humans. 

Her Night beauty represents the most secret inwardness of God, and the most intimate connection with God. As in Rumi's relationship with his mentor Shams, Leyla is an incomplete love that creates and intensifies longing. Leyla is the unattainable love, the real joy of which is longing, not reunion with the beloved.

The mountains in this poem appear as a place where lovers can take shelter and hope to meet their Leyla. Yet we discover, in the ambiguity in the last line, that the poet’s hope of finding his Leyla there in the mountains has been lost, causing him to weep tears of sadness for this unattainable quest.

Look closely at the picture accompanying the poem. Perhaps the big cloud in the sky is the image of Leyla, whose dusky beauty we feel when the cloud shadow passes over us -



Ben dağları sırtıma bütünüyle alsaydım,

Kaçar mıydı elimden sürmeli ceylanları?

Ya da bir dağ başında sığınarak kalsaydım,

Uzatır mıydı bana beklediğim o yâri?

Dağlar, içimde umut, dağlar, içimde sevdâ,

Ben dağlarda kaybolur, bulunurum dağlarda...


Yağmur gecesi başka, kar gecesi başkadır,

Bir tılsım gibi siner duygumuza baharı.

Yıldızlarla çözülen bilmecesi başkadır,

Bir gün verir bana da o beklediğim yâri.

Dağlar, nice aşığın göz yaşında yıkanır,

Dağlar, beni çektiğim sevdâlarımdan tanır...


Zirvesinde bulutlar bin aşk ile raks eder,

Yağmurlarla yıkanır o yemyeşil saçları.

Her hüzünlü uyanış gönlümde aşka gider,

Ben de bir gün koynunda bulacağım o yâri.

Dağlar, çılgın aşklara ne umut, ne gül verir,

Dağlar, Leylâ’m uğruna göz yaşlarımda erir!..






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