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three pairs of lovers with space

THE BEAUTIFUL ÇÂRPÂRE DANCER BY NEDÎM

 

Tchingui, ou Danseur Turc by G.J.B. Scotin, 1714

The Beautiful Çârpâre Dancer was a song praising the beauty of a 14-year-old dancing-boy composed by Nedîm during the Tulip era (1718-30) of Ottoman history.

Nedîm was the pen name of Ahmed Efendi of Constantinople (ca. 1681-1730), one of the foremost Ottoman poets. He rose to prominence as the librarian and boon-companion of the Ottoman Grand Vizier Ibrahim until he was accidentally killed, his patron murdered and the Sultan Ahmed III deposed in the revolution of October 1730, thus “bringing his career to a close on the very day that saw the break up of that gay court whose doings he had so often and so eloquently sung.”[1]

The title is a modern invention. The translation from Ottoman Turkish is by Dorit Klebe in her "Effeminate Professional Musicians in Sources of Ottoman-Turkish Court Poetry and Music of the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries" in Music in Art, Vol. 30, No. 1/2 (Spring–Fall 2005), p. 107.

An earlier translation by E. J. W. Gibb in his A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. IV (London: Luzac, 1905) pp. 45-46 was marred by his changing the boy into a girl, presumably to avoid upsetting the sensibilities of his Edwardian readership.

 

Today a beautiful boy has pierced my heart with his çârpâre[2]
He has rosy cheeks, wears a rose-colored gown out of violet, flickering silk
He has two beauty spots, a silver-colored neck, a sun-like countenance
He has rosy cheeks, wears a rose-colored gown out of violet, flickering silk

Around his head he has wound a turban ornamented with a pattern of young man’s eyebrow
He might have applied make up and fragrant essences to his eyebrows
In my estimation he just had reached his fifteenth year
He has rosy cheeks, wears a rose-colored gown out of violet, flickering silk

He is an adornment of the bay windows,[3] a jewel of all embraces
Scarcely a year might have passed since his nurse left his side
My beloved, my heart’s delight, fortune of my life
He has rosy cheeks, wears a rose-colored gown out of violet, flickering silk

His gracefulness, his affected dance style, his smile, all without compare
Beauty spots are scattered about his neck, his eyes are extremely fair
Golden blond hair locks,[4] silver colored neck, thin thread-like lovelocks, slender waisted
He has rosy cheeks, wears a rose-colored gown out of violet, flickering silk

Nothing I will say about his face equal to a fairy’s, his eyes having the glance of a hangman’s cruelty
Nor would I tell anything about Nedîm’s lovesickness and grief
But no one could bar me to talk about his shape, his attitude; his name however, I never would betray
He has rosy cheeks, wears a rose-colored gown out of violet, flickering silk

 

[1] E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. IV, London: Luzac, 1905, p. 30.

[2] A percussion instrument used in Turkish classical music, sometimes roughly translated as “castanet”, to which it had some similarities.

[3] Instead of ”bay windows”, E. J. W. Gibb translated this as “balconies”, noting “She [his deliberate misrepresentation of He”] was meet to sit in a balcony (in Turkish, a seat for a king) which would be graced by her presence.” (A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. IV, London: Luzac, 1905, p. 45)

[4] “This is perhaps the first instance of a golden-haired beauty in Turkish poetry. Till now the loved one has, in accordance with Persian taste, always been described as black-haired. Such still continues to be the general rule till we reach the Modern Period when the ideal beauty is very often fair-haired.” (E. J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. IV, London: Luzac, 1905, p. 46)