Divan poet (B. 1460, Amasya – D. 1506, Amasya). The first woman divan poet of the Ottoman period, Mihrî Hatun was also one of the first female poets along with Zeynep Hatun whose name was known. Her real name was Mihrümah according to Evliya Çelebi, Fahrünnisa or Mihrinnisa according to Bursalı Mehmed Tahir, and Mihrî, being both her real name and pseudonym, according to Âşık Çelebi. In fact, her father Yahyazade Mehmeh Çelebi, a kadi, has thought that the pseudonym 'Mihrî' (sun, love) would fit to her. Her father was also a poet and used the pseudonym Belâyî. Like many of her contemporaries, not much is known about Mihrî. As what was written about her was derived from the preceding source, they all resemble each other. The curtains shading the poet became even thicker because very few academic researches made use of what was written before rather than her poems as data. Actually, Mihrî gave most of the necessary hints about herself in her poems. Even though her birth date is not known accurately, it is comprehended from her poems that she lived up to forty-five. She was brought up receiving a good education. The period when Bayezid II was the governor of Amasya, the city was known to have been a culture and art center. Worthy scholars, poets and other artisans who were around Şehzade (T.N. prince) Bayezid provided an academic environment causing this prince to be brought up well. 

Mihrî Hatun participated in the social meetings on science and poems which Ahmet, the heir of Bayezid II and the governor of Amasya organized in Ahmet’s palace, at a time when women were illiterate and were not able to take part in the men's environment. This shows that she was a respected and admired poet at the time. She drew attention by participating in those meetings. Told to be very beautiful, had a romantic relationship with İskender Çelebi, the son of Sinan Pasha, but many more men fell in love with her due to her beauty at the time, Mihrî Hatun reportedly fell in love with Müeyyetzade Abdurrahman Çelebi; however, her real love was for İskender Çelebi. However, it is reported in the sources that she couldn't marry him either. She didn't abstain from openly dealing with love in her gazelle poems.

Though Mihrî Hatun was a very beautiful woman, she didn't marry.  It is told that his love for İskender Çelebi didn't go far from a platonic one. Mihrî Hatun was a beloved and respected person among the people around her for her knowledge, beauty and art. She was one of the most remarkable poets among the female poets due to plain and sincere expression in the love poems she wrote. She happened to be underestimated because she was a woman; however, she quarreled baldly with her contemporaries. She was recognized for her odes and gazelle poems which she wrote generally with a plain language. The only thing hindering the poems, in which names, seasons, exchange of feelings, place names were listed, from reading them as if they were a diary, was the compulsory order of the divan poem.

The language Mihrî Hatun used was quite plain but deep with respect to her contemporary poets. This was probably because she initially didn't think of writing a poem, where the topic and order were determined by someone else. In that vein, she relied on "imal" (tending the syllable to be read longer) and "zihaf" (reading as if it were a short syllable due to poetics). She wrote poems with a plain language and tenderness. Her poems are told simply. She was greatly influenced by poet Necati, regarded as one of the founders of Divan poetry. Even though it was not seen much in divan literature, she wrote poems dealing with current issues at the time. There were also rumors that she took Necati Bey as a role model and sent her poems trying to learn his thoughts. There was reportedly an emotional intimacy between Necati Bey and her. She wrote an epigram for the well-known poem 'Döne Döne' by Necati Bey. Indeed, many of her poems looked like epigrams written for his poems. The purpose of such epigrams was to demonstrate him that she had caught up with him.

On the other hand, Necati Bey, one of the founders of divan literature, was so certain of the popularity and power of his poems and so proud, even arrogant, that he took the epigrams written for his poems in stride. Still, the fact that the epigram writer was a woman hurt his pride. According to Necati Bey, it was good for her to write in Turkish rather than Arabic and Persian, but the lengthening and shortenings of sounds to obey to the measure were unforgiveable flaws.

Mihrî Hatun came to Istanbul and presented herself in artistic circles. She made friendships with Necati Bey, Güvahî, Makamî, Âfitabî, Münirî, and Zeynep Hatun. It was rumored that she was a chat mate of Mahidevran Gülbahar Sultan, one of the wives of Süleyman the Magnificent, even that she met the prince Bayezid several times while she was at court. Mihrî, who was the ''the Sappho of the Ottomans" according to historian Hammer, expressed her emotional passions insofar as circumstances of the time permitted. Moreover, she mentioned openly who she was in love with. The only thing hindering the poems, in which names, seasons, exchange of feelings, place names were listed, from reading them as if they were a diary, was the compulsory order of the divan poem. She happened to be underestimated because she was a woman; however, she quarreled baldly with her contemporaries.

Her “Divan”, consisting of gazelles, odes, and quatrains, were published by USSR Science Academy Institute of Asian Communities in 1967 in Moscow. The handwritten copies of her “Divan” are available at the Library of Istanbul University, Fatih Public Library, and Hagia Sophia Library. At the beginning of her “Divan”, there are two amalgamations and a chapter consisting of a mesnevi with four hundred and sixty couplets. At the end of this chapter, she defended her personality as a woman against the mentality of men at that time. She wrote an ode to Bayezid II and eleven odes to Ahmed and took them for her “Divan”. “Divan” consists of münacaat, naat, mev'ize, two hundred and fifty gazelles, eight murabbas, and seven müfreds.

REFERENCE: Murad Uras/ Resimli Kadın Şair ve Muharrirlerimiz (1957), Abdülkadir Karahan / Mihri Hatun (İslâm Ansiklopedisi (c. 8, 1957), Refik Ahmet Sevengil / Eski Şiirimizin Ustaları (1964), Mübeccel Kızıltan / Divan Edebiyatı Özelliklerine Uyarak Şiir Yazan Kadın Şairler (Sombahar, Ocak-Nisan 1994), Sennur Sezer / Türk Safo’su Mihri Hatun (1996), Behçet Necatigil / Edebiyatımızda İsimler Sözlüğü (18. basım, 1999), Meydan Larousse Ansiklopedisi (1998), Ana Britannica Ansiklopedisi (1992), İhsan Işık / Türkiye Yazarlar Ansiklopedisi (2001, 2004) - Resimli ve Metin Örnekli Türkiye Edebiyatçılar ve Kültür Adamları Ansiklopedisi (2006, gen. 2. bas. 2007) - Ünlü Edebiyatçılar (Türkiye Ünlüleri Ansiklopedisi, C. 4, 2013) - Encyclopedia of Turkey’s Famous People (2013). 


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