Cyprus and Its People: Nation, Identity, and Experience in an Unimaginable Community, 1955-1997

By Vangelis Calotychos | Go to book overview
It lies also with the Orientalists who encouraged the "Greeks," not only to identify with the West, but also to look upon their closest neighbors as the most distant "Others" who had to be identified with the East, because they were Muslims.
4.
There were three schools of poetry in the three hundred year Ottoman period in Cyprus: One of them is "Folk Poetry" which is very rich in linguistic detail and fantasy. In form and poetic technique Cypriot songs and epics were related to the Turkish epics. "Carnations, roses, nightingales, cranes" which are abundant in Balkan, Anatolian and Caucasian Turkish-speaking peoples' folk songs also came to Cyprus, but "narcissus, oranges, olives, doves, swallows" make their appearance in the Cypriot folk poems. The most famous folk poet of Cyprus was Kıbrısli Aıik Kenzi (Cypriot Minstrel Kenzi), who lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. He became known in the Balkan and Anatolian part of the Ottoman Empire too, but the literary establishment did not really respect his works. Perhaps, this was why he tried to use the style of Court Poetry in his Folk Poems as an uneducated "outsider." The second category was Mystic Poetry written in the Tekkes--centers for mystic orders, mainly Mevlevi Sufism--which promoted Ottoman-Muslim literature and culture. The very first Cypriot poets appeared at Mevlevi Tekkesi of Nicosia, such as Handi, who was also known as Hızır Dede Efendi and lived in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and followed the literary traditions of "Tasavvuf" (Muslim Sufi Mysticism). And thirdly, we should talk about "Divan," Court Poetry. Müftü Hılmi , who lived in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, was the most distinguished exponent of Cypriot Court Poetry, a form which addressed itself to the Ottoman elite. Müftü Hılmi Efendi used the Ottoman-Turkish language, rich in Persian and Arabic with astounding intelligence and wrote according to the sound values of the syllables and attracted attention with his powerful style. He was invited to Istanbul by the Reformist Sultan Mahmut the Second, whom he impressed with his poem Methiye [Eulogy], written in honor of a library which the Sultan opened in Cyprus. He distinguished himself rapidly in this capital of the Empire and Turkish language poetry and was proclaimed "Res' uś śuera" (The Leader of Poets), Despite this, he left the palace under cover of darkness in a small boat and secretly escaped to his homeland Cyprus. Most Cypriot literary critics say that Müftü Hılmi Efendi was homesick for Cyprus which is why he escaped to the island. But I think the real reason is that he was unable to get a position among other "high" poets of the canon in Istanbul, the metropolis of Ottoman-Turkish poetry. Like Aśik Kenzi, he wrote a poem about the lack of recognition for Cypriot poets in Istanbul. For details on Ottoman and Turkish Cypriot poetry from seventeenth century to twentieth century, see Mehmet Yashin, Kibrıslıtürk Śüri Antolojisi, Yapı Kredi Yayınları, Istanbul, 1994.
5.
In Polysystem or Systems Theory in literature, minor poetry, which is peripheral, usually follows the poetry schools of the metropolis very slowly, in an amateurish way, and without creativity.

Works Cited

Anderson Benedict. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflected on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso.

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