Yunus Emre and Dante

The Perception of Exaltation in Yunus Emre and Dante’s La Vita Nuova



The aim of this study is to compare the two poets’ – Yunus Emre and Dante’s perceptions of “exaltation”. The main theme of their works is love. Yunus Emre, under the influence of Taptuk Emre- his mentor, thinks that one must purify his soul from the worldly pleasures and dedicate himself to the way of God. In Sufism man is the representative of God in this world. This philosophy determines Yunus’s mission in life which is to spread God’s love among mankind. Dante, on the other hand, reaches self-recognition by transforming his romantic love into divine love realizing that the Beloved is the Absolute Truth. In the present work which is an analysis of the selected poems of Yunus and Dante’s Vita Nuova, it is found out that both poets exalt God but they do it in different directions.

1. Giriş
Yunus Emre is a great folk poet, the first Turkish sufi (Islamic mystic) troubadour who sings mystical songs for the Beloved, the Friend. Yunus lived during the late thirteenth century and the beginning of the fourteenth century, which was an age of religious repression. One constant theme in Yunus’s poetry is Love, that of God for man and, therefore, of man for God. Dante Alighieri, on the other hand, is an Italian poet who also lived in the thirteenth century. Dante too admires troubadour love poetry. In the Vita Nuova (1292-1294), his youthful book of collected lyrics, he writes a series of lyric poems for or about Beatrice, an actual lady he loved. The Vita Nuova is the autobiography of a young man. It is the backward glance of a young poet, Dante, still in his twenties. He edits his work to reveal its place in his life and its meaning beyond literature. Although his poems are the complaints about the hardness of the Beloved written in the courtly love tradition in the beginning, in the course of his work, the sentiment felt for Beatrice, the Beloved, undergoes a gradual transformation and becomes a purified, spiritual love relationship. In the Divine Comedy (1307-21), his next work, too Beatrice becomes the instrument of God's grace: his love for Beatrice leads Dante to God’s Love, i.e. salvation. Dante reaches divine love by subliming Beatrice. The Beloved leads him to God’s grace.

Yunus, on the other hand, under the influence of Sufism, sees the universe as the reflection of God. In the great chain of beings which starts with the minerals, plants, animals, and man, man is the most important entity reflecting the Creator in the universe. Yunus says that worldly pleasures are all transitory. This world is just a bridge on the way to God. What man should do is to purify his soul and see God in the universe and share the divine knowledge with Him. In Yunus’s case, the poet Yunus is deified. He is one with God and guides mankind on the way to God. In Dante, the poet reaches salvation through Beatrice, the Beloved, i.e. Beatrice is deified. These two different perceptions of the exaltation/deification in Yunus and Dante will be the main point of the present study.

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