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An Eighteenth-Century Work: Şâkir Ahmed and His Divan  

Gülay Durmaz  


In the 18th century, Ottoman Empire implemented a series of political, social, economic and military regulations and it was a period where the state doubted its authority. In the period that included the pompous period of the “Tulip Age,” social and cultural disintegra- tion are noteworthy. The changes in the field of literature were observed only in the second half of the 19th century. Despite the great number of poets and poetry authored in the 18th century, the most significant poets of the period were Nedim and Gâlib. The poets, who did not receive the desired interest of the officials due to political instabilities, started to write historical poems instead of eulogies in this period where classical, didactic, aesthetic and local styles were prominent. Articulations in new and new-transient styles did not lead to a new poetry but were limited cer- tain innovations in theme, rhyme and repetitions. Social criticism and satire were more significant, and slang and obscene words were of interest. Şâkir was attested to the 17th century in biographical collections. In particular, in Tuhfe-i Nâilî, Silahdarzâde Biography and Tayyarzâde Ata History, Şâkir Ahmed Bey was mentioned as a poet who lived in the 17th century. However, the Şâkir Divan begins with Sıhhatnâme (get well wishes) for Sultan Mahmud. Sultan Mahmud reigned between 1730 and 1754. The Divan also included histories written for Osman III (1754-1757), Mustafa (1757-1774), Abdulhamid (1774-1789), and Prince Selim. All these sultans reigned in the 18th century. Furthermore, Shakir wrote a quintet on an ode by Ali Râ’ik. In Tayyarzâde Ata History, Ali Râ’ik was mentioned among the poets who lived during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid Han (1774- 1789). Based on these evidences, it could be suggested that Şâkir lived in the 18th century. Also, according to the bi- ographical collections, he worked as the head of stablemen responsible for the maintenance of turbans and related clothing, and then as a teacher at the special school in the palace (Enderun). There is no information on his works in biographical collections except for an ode to Avnî. The only available copy of the Divan is registered as “Divan-ı Şâkir” (TSMKH No: 951) at Topkapı Palace Museum Treasury section. In the work that includes 41 pages, there are 5 eulogies and 1 petition including the Sıhhatnâme, 53 historical poems, 7 quintets and 1 canto that includes 6 verses. The total number of odes is 77. The 47 length of the odes ranges between 4 and 12 couplets. These are mostly 5, 7 and 6-couplet odes in the work. The poet wrote nazires (poem modeled after a poem by another poet in both content and form) to Avnî, Nakşî, and Nâbî. The divan begins with the Sıhhatnâme for Sul- tan Mahmud. The second ode was written to celebrate Mustafa Han’s enthronement, and the third ode was a celebration of the spring. The fourth ode was written for Ali İzzet Pasha. The fifth was written to praise Mustafa Han for the newly built mosque in Üsküdar. Of the 53 historical poems, 17 were written in ode verse. Historical poems are written to shed light on the period. The Divan included historical poems about the reigns of Sultan Mahmud, Sultan Osman III, Mustafa III, and Abdulhamid I and events in their reigns. For example, the Divan included eight new year celebra- tions, 2 congratulatory poems for Hat and Ramadan and a historical poem on the mosque in Laleli written during the reign of Mustafa III. In the same period, Tophane was rehabilitated within the context of military reforms, and new and powerful cannons were cast, and the navy was renovated. The historical poems on three galleons and one cannon were included in the Divan to witness these events. There are also historical poems on Prince Selim, the son of Mustafa III, and his daughters Shah Sultan, Mihrimah Sultan and Mihrishah Sultan. The Divan included seven pentastichs. These were written for Nakşî, Avnî, Rif ’at, Tâlib, Râ’ik Ali Efendi and Nâbî, respectively. The title of the hexastich was “Müseddes-i Der-Sitâyiş-i ‘Abdül’-hamîd Hân Berây Nakl-i Kerden-i Sâhilserây-ı Hümâyûn”. In the present paper, the Şâkir Divan content, con- sidered as an 18th century work, was evaluated based on both the poet and the work, and the poet’s works were analyzed based on the meter, rhyme, language and style in addition to the poet’s life and literary personality.