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This deyiş is a fine example of an ostensibly simple lyric that is as keenly wrought as a knife. It evokes the Anatolian highlands in austere and simple terms  as only lyrics attributed to Pir Sultan seem to do, in straigthforward even conventional language with common mystical images of rose gardens, departing caravans and distant beauties. Then within the space of four short verses (and  in the sparce eight syllable metre) the lyric darkens with the appearance of the rival or enemy (‘engel‘) and proceeds to a defiant even violent close – remarkable stuff.

The first publication of the lyric is in Gölpınarlı and Boratav (1943) from which I have taken the text for translation (though it includes a typographic error that is perpetuated in the 1991 reprint). Boratav gives the source as Hamdi Bayran son of Ahı from Öyük village in the Şarkışla region of Sivas. The song has, perhaps, a stronger Erzincan resonance however due to the unmatchable version performed by Davut Sulari on his 1974 recording Üç Telli Turnam. Sulari’s clear and energetic performance is perfectly suited to the lyric. His version is slightly different from the printed versions in Gölpınarlı and Boratav and later Aslanoğlu (1984), but curiously the version printed in Erzincan Türküleri by Fahri Taş and Salih Turhan (2004) in which Sulari is given as the source follows the text of the earlier printed versions rather than that of the recorded version by Sulari.

Pir Sultan Abdal ‘Seher vaktı kalkan kervani

Translation: Paul Koerbin

Day dawns and the caravan sets out

Moaning and lamenting

The heart falling for a beauty

Blossoms and is safely tended

In our garden roses bloom

On the branch nightingales sing

A rival comes and adds his piece

The one doing the deed remains behind

The nightingale comes to land on the branch

The nightingale has no reproach for the rose

The rival casts a stone at the lake

The duck swimming there is wounded

Pir Sultan Abdal let us pass over

Let us drink wine from the hand of the Pir

Let us flee from the one who refutes

One day the denier will be torn to pieces

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Original text from Gölpınarlı and Boratav (1943)

Seher vaktı kalkan kervan

İniler de zaralanır

Bir güzele düşen gönül

Çiçeklenir korulanır

Bahçenizde güller biter

Dalında dülbüller [sic, i.e. bülbüller] öter

Engel gelir bir kal katar

Olan işler gerilenir

Bülbül geldi kondu dala

Bülbülden hata yok güle

Engel bir taş atar göle

Yüzen ördek yaralanır

Pir Sultan Abdal göçelim

Pir elinden bad’ içelim

İnkâr olandan kaçalım

İnkâr bir gün paralanır