Mehmed Emin

Mehmet Emin Yardakul ( 1869-1944 ).

Turkish patriot and pioneer of modern Turkish poetry. His parents posessed a rich store of oral folk literature, which they transmitted to Emin. He attained several Civil service posts and in 1907 he became a member of the secret revolutionary Committee of Union and Progress. He was sent to work in Eastern Anatolia in the Customs department, which was a form of punishment  due to the Sultans suspicion of him due to his choice of subjects in his poems – particularly his insistence on the poor. He retired in 1912.

Emin wrote poetry in the language of ordinary poets and used exclusively the syllabic metre of folk poets as oppossed to the Arabo Persian prasody ( arud ) of both old and modern poets of his day, and devoted all his literary work to his country and people , their plight and misfortunes, their glories , completely leaving out his personality and private life.

He published his first book in 1891 AD entitled ” Fadilet Asalet “  ( Virtue and Nobility)., in which he claims that real virtue and nobility are not necessarily hereditary but are rather obtained by a persons talent , diligence and spiritual maturity.

Emin sent the draft to several literary authorities , who all wrote complementary ” takrizs ” ( presentation pieces ) which were printed with the book.

His first publlished poem ” Kayde Firtina ” ( storm in a village ) appeared in Resimli Gazatte in October 1895 AD and which was confiscated before distribution . It was reprinted in Muktebes in 1900.

This great poem with its social implications was written at the height of the famous westernist ” Therwet i Funun ” literary movement.

It is probable that the young poet recited to Jamal al Din Al Afghani.

Several of his poems were published in periodicals , including in the ” Therwet i Funun ” itself imeediately before and during the 1897 war with Greece- particularly the one called ” Anadoludon bir yakhud djenge giderken ” ( ” A voice from Anatolia , or Going to War ”. This made a sensation in Turkey , amongst the Turks in Russia and Orientalists abroad.

Although there was a long but often ignored tradition of simple straightforward Turkish prose a movement as such always existed.

The revolutionary and journalistic Ali Suaw, and the novelist Ahmed Midhat wrote in simple language.

However, as the lexicrographer and writer Shems el Din Sami stated in an article , greeting the publication of Mehmed Emins first book of poems ” Turkdje Shirler ( Poems in Turkish )….. ” although they ( the Tanzimatwriter ) talked and wished to write in simple Turkish, it was Mehmed Emin who carried it out, this book was the foundation stone of future Turkish literature.”

Gibb stated about Emins work ” the turk has found his natural voice. You expressed the feeling of your countryman in their language. Six centuries have been waiting for you.”

Shams al Din Sami pointed out that  Emins work was not a random experiment and that it was the beginning of a systematic and lasting movement. This current was enriched by the deeply felt lyricism of Reda Tewfik who became a defender of Emin.

This  ” simple Turkish ” movement spread to the provinces and was supported by several poets-ie- Mehmed Nedjib who had launched a similar movement independently in Izmir. This culminated in April 1911, in Salonica, with the ” new language ” which Ziya Gokalp espoused and propagated among young poets and writers , setting up a new literary current , the ” National Literature ”

Mehmed Emin candidly admits his assiciation with Jamal al din al Afghani and the latters influence on his ideas. Emin and others attended Aghanis lectures in Istanbul.

Afghani told his young followers of the individual Muslim countries to write with simple vernecular of their people in order to alert them against despotism , corruption, foreign domination, and social evils.