Yunus Emre: life and legacy

Yunus Emre: life and legacy
Yunus Emre: life and legacy

"How lovers yearn! Your love will kill them" - a line from a poem by Yunus Emre.

This is a Turkish poet and follower of Sufism, who had a great influence on the culture of the ancient civilization of Anatolia (modern Turkey). Yunus Emre was well versed in Sufi philosophy. He was especially interested in the work of 13th-century Sufis such as Jalaladdin Rumi. Like Rumi, Yunus Emre became a leading exponent of Sufism in Anatolia, but gained great fame: after his death, he was revered as a saint.

He wrote in Old Turkish (Anatolian) language. The UNESCO General Conference unanimously proclaimed 1991 (the 750th anniversary of the poet's birth) as the "International Year of Yunus Emre". Let's talk more about this amazing person.

Yunus Emre


Yunus Emre was supposedly born in 1240 in Anatolia - the Asian part of modern Turkey. Little is known about the life of the poet: tiny moments of biography are collected from legends and autobiographical allusions in his works.

According to one oft-repeated legend, one day, when the harvest in his village failed, Yunus Emre came to the house of a local dervish (the Muslim equivalent of a monk) to ask for food. There he met Haji Bektash, the founder of Bektashi(Sufi order). Yunus Emre begged the dervish for wheat, instead Haji Bektas offered him his blessing. Three times Yunus refused the offer, and in the end, he received the wheat. On the way home, Yunus realized his mistake and headed back to the dervish's house to receive his blessing. But Haji Bektash told Yunus that he had missed his chance and sent Emre to his successor Taptuk. Thus began 40 years of Yunus's spiritual training with the teacher Taptuk, during which the student began to write Sufi poetry.

Yunus Emre series

From the poet's poems, one can understand that he was well educated: poetry demonstrates knowledge of the sciences of that time, as well as the ability to express himself in Persian and Arabic along with Turkish.

In addition, the poet's poems reveal some biographical details: Yunus was married, had children, traveled around Anatolia and Damascus.


Like the Oghuz work "Kitabi Dede Korkud" ("The Book of My Grandfather Korkud"), the heroic epic of the Oghuz, Turkish folklore that inspired Yunus Emre to write famous lines, his poems were spread among his contemporaries by word of mouth.

Yunus Emre biography

This strictly oral literary tradition continued for quite some time. After the Mongol invasion of Anatolia, facilitated by the defeat of the Sultanate of Konya at the Battle of Köse Dagh in 1243, Islamic Sufi literature flourished in Anatolia, and Yunus Emre became one of the most respected poets.of his time.

His poems had a huge impact on later Turkish Sufis and inspired poets of the Renaissance after 1910.

Yunus Emre is still a popular personality in a number of countries stretching from Azerbaijan to the Balkans: seven completely different and scattered states are still arguing about where the grave of the great poet is located.

Yunus Emre poems


Yunus Emre's poems, despite the fact that at first glance they seem quite simple, testify to the poet's ability to clearly and clearly describe rather difficult and thoughtful Sufi concepts. He dedicated his life to making the teachings that inspire him take poetic form and become understandable to ordinary people. He was the first to express such ideas in a language close to Turkish, which was popularly used at the time.


Yunus Emre had a huge impact on Turkish literature. He is one of the first poets of his time who wrote his works in spoken Turkish, and not in Persian or Arabic. The style of Yunus Emre is considered very close to the speech of his contemporaries in Central and Western Anatolia - it is the language of folk songs, fairy tales, riddles and proverbs.

Yunus's poems, permeated through with deep feeling, are mainly devoted to the themes of divine love and human destiny. Basically, he wrote in a simple, almost strict style, the meter always corresponded to that adopted in the folk poetry of Anatolia.


Yunus Emre is a personality to this dayinspiring many. It is no coincidence that a series was dedicated to his life. Turkish director Kurshat Ryzbaz, who previously shot documentaries, took on the shooting of the film "Yunus Emre: The Path of Love". The series was released in Turkey in 2015. He tells about the life of a legendary person, showing the path from a Sharia judge to a great poet.

Yunus Emre movie

Series plot

As Yunus transforms as a person, so do his views. At the beginning of the series, graduating from the madrasah, he is dismissive and even contemptuous of poetry and poets. "They are lying!" he says, but by the end of the series, he becomes an inspirational poet himself. At the beginning of the first season, he despises the dervishes, considering them to be uneducated idlers, but subsequently becomes one of the sheikh's spiritual students. The Sheikh recognizes Yunus's potential, but constantly undermines his ambitions and superficial knowledge, setting him difficult tasks, forcing him to struggle with himself day after day.

Conventionally, the series can be divided into 3 parts:

  1. Episodes 1-6: Yunus arrives in Nalihan, takes up the position of qadi (Sharia judge), commits and corrects judicial errors and decides to give up work to become a dervish.
  2. Studying under the sheikh, wrestling with oneself to create a psychological foundation for spiritual experience through tasks such as cleaning cells and toilets.
  3. The spiritual development of Yunus, becoming a Sufi saint and poet.

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