God permeates the whole wide world,
Yet his truth is revealed to none.
You better seek Him in yourself,
You and He aren’t apart – you’re one.

Tens of books have been written about Yunus Emre’s poetry, his metaphysics, his philosophy and other aspects of his works. Here I will quote one his most frequently recited pieces for examination:

Aşkın aldı benden beni

Bana seni gerek seni

Ben yanarım dünü günü

Bana seni gerek seni


Ne varlığa sevinirim

Ne yokluğa yerinirim

Aşkın ile avunurum

Bana seni gerek seni


Aşkın aşıklar öldürür

Aşk denizine daldırır

Tecelli ile doldurur

Bana seni gerek seni


Aşkın şarabından içem

Mecnun olup dağa düşem

Sensin dünü gün endişem

Bana seni gerek seni


Sufilere sohbet gerek

Ahilere ahret gerek

Mecnunlara Leyla gerek

Bana seni gerek seni


Eğer  beni öldürseler

Külüm göğe savuralar

Toprağım ana çagıra

Bana seni gerek seni


Yunus’durur benim adım

Gün geçtikçe artar odum

Iki cihanda maksudum

Bana seni gerek seni



Your love has wrested me away from me,

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave

Day and night I burn, gripped by agony,

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave


I find no great joy being alive,

If I cease to exist, I would not grieve,

The only solace I have is your love,

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave


Lover yearn for you, but your love slays them,

At the bottom of the sea it lays them,

It has God’s images – it displays them,

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave


Even if, at the end they make me die

And scatter my ashes up to the sky,

My pit would break into this outcry:

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave


Let me drink the wine of love sip by sip,

Like Mecnun, live in the hills in hardship,

Day and night, care for you holds me in its grip,

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave


‘Yunus Emre the mystic’ is my name,

Each passing day fans and rouses my flame,

What I desire in both worlds is the same:

You’re the one I need, you’re the one I crave


One constant theme in Yunus’ poetry is Love, that of God for man and, therefore, of man for God. Yunus’ love is the most powerful of everything, it is for the creator of the universe but it is also the creator, it is fierce and burning, consuming Yunus’ mere existence. Yunus is like Mecnun, “the mad man of Love” who suffered , appear to have gone mad, and died just for the love of Leyla. Yunus wants to be as drunk, i.e. mad, as Mecnun, for his Love which wounds him terribly. For Yunus external forms of religion are not important and reward and punishment are not of concern; he only cares for God, yearns of his Love. The world is temporary and even when he dies, even when he is killed like the martyr of love Hallaj (Yunus refers to him in various other pieces of poetry), whatever is left of him will be yearning for God. Yunus can argue with God that His Love is killing people, making them suffer enormously, he seems to complain of his unjust treatment, but regardless, his love is so great that he can not help yearning for Him. He believes that he existed with God before there was existence. Ofcourse, he is no different than God:

I was a star for a long time;
in the skies the angels were desirous [of me].
The all-compelling God commanded;
I was There then.

Before I was in this form,
when my name was not Yunus,
I was He, He was I,
I was with the one who offered this love.

Yunus is hinting at a common Sufi theme of the existence of the Saints during the primordial time. Yunus is a perfect-man himself who was with the Creator before the Creation. He shared the divine knowledge with God. This idea is revealed more clearly in the following verses:

Before the created universe came here,
Before the skies were filled with angels,
Before this realm had a foundation,
I was with the creator of the Domain.

He is not content to make this shocking statement; he calls everyone else to accept it also:

If you don’t identify Man as God,
All your learning is of no use at all.


Yunus in fact refers to the idea of “vahdet’i vucut” , unity of being, which is a common theme on Sufi mysticism. He adheres to most of the common , dominant ideas of Sufism, as can clearly be seen from these pieces of poetry and his other works. What is different and most striking in Yunus is his use of the simple Turkish of his time – which could still be understood and appreciated quite easily by a modern Turkish speaker, and his outstanding humanism. It is the second aspect which primarily interests us here which certainly is not separate from his use of folk language.



[1] “Yunus Emre”, S. Eyuboglu, Cem Yayinevi,Istanbul, Turkey, 1980 [2]“Yunus Emre, Butun Siirleri”, C. Oztelli, Milliyet Yayinlari, Turkey, 1971 [3]“Yunus Emre Divani”, F. Timurtas, Kultur Bakanligi Yayinlari, 380,Ankara, Turkey, 1980 [4]“Seriye Sicil Defterleri ve Yonus Emre”, O. H. Ozdemir, UluslarasiYunus Emre, Nasreddin Hoca, Karamanoglu Mehmet Bey ve Turk DiliSemineri Bildirileri, Konya Turizm Dernegi Yayinlari, Turkey, 1977 [5]“The Humanist Poetry of Yunus Emre”, T. S. Halman, R.C.D. CulturalInstitute, No.39, Istanbul Matbaasi, Istanbul, TurkeyA version of this book could be viewed at: [6]“An Anthology of Turkish Literature”, Edited by K. Silay, “YunusEmre”, Annemarie Schimmel, Indiana Univ. Turkish Studies & TurkishMinistry of Culture Joint Series XV, Bloomington, Indiana [7]“The Poetry of Yunus Emre, a Turkish Sufi Poet”, G. M. Smith,Univ. California Press, California, 1993, [8]“Yunus Emre ile Ilgili Makalelerden Secmeler”, Hazirlayanlar:H. Ozbay , M. Tatci, Kultur Bakanligi/1275, Ankara, Turkey, 1991 [9]“Yunus Emre and his Mystical Poetry”, Edited by T. S. Halman,Indiana Univ. Turkish Studies 2, Bloomington, Indiana [10]“Doga ve Din Yorumcusu Yunus Emre”, Y. Z. Inan, Tekin Yayinevi,Ankara, Turkey, 1981 [11] Various World Wide Web sites:      Extracts from Yunus Emre’s Divan:       Threshold Foundation Yunus Emre Pages:         A collection of  poetry and sound clips about Yunus Emre:      An extensive collection of  Yunus’ Poetry: [12] “Living Without a Religion, Eupraxophy”, P. Kurtz, Prometheus Books,New York, USA, 1994 [13] “Humanist Manifesto II”, American Humanist Association, September 1973      Could be viewed at: [14] “Humanity — Is it for Real?”, G. Davis, World Citizen News, WorldGovernment of World Citizens, June/July 1996 [15] “Living Presence”, K. Helminski, Theshold Books, see their homepage. [16] “The Drop That Became The Sea, Selected Lyric Poetry of Yunus Emre”,Translated by R. Algan & K. Helminski, Threshold Books, see their homepage fordetails. [17]“What is Humanism?”, F. Edwords, American Humanist Association, Amherst,NY    Could be viewed at: [18] “The Story of Caux, From La Belle Epoque to Moral Re-Armament”, P. Mottu,Grosvenor Books,Switzerland, 1970 [19] “Peace-Builder” , Institute of Multi-Track Diplomacy, Washington Dc,USA, various issues. [20] “Red Cross and Red Crescent: Portrait of an International Movement”,The International Commitee of the Red Cross, Geneva, Switzerland [21] “Yunus Emre’ye Siirler”, Kultur Bakanligi/1306, Ankara, Turkey, 1991





  1. Yunus has been for me the beautifull example of the sincere Lover…his poetry got something unique when he is looking at himself with no compromise and send to His Beloved the drunkly expression of his cries,tears and extatic haal…Indeed he represents the stream of the old masters…but somewhere,we are crossing time in which one this traditionnal movment to God is purely actual and…possible!!!…When everything is took by illusion,intellect,and expression of desires like it has never happen before…The Power of God will search for Powerfull recipient…when recipients will do the right job,…and there is the point…the right job…LOVE itself describes its own perfection…be speechless and listen…Mawlaana…merci

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