SULEIMAN AND ROXELANA
The romance between Suleiman
and a golden-haired Ukrainian slave girl sent to the harem
is the subject of a hundred novels and poems.
As always, truth is stranger than fiction—
Roxelana became the favorite,
replacing the mother of Mustafa, Suleiman's son and heir.
Both mother and son were banished,
And later Mustafa was assassinated,
some say at Roxelana's instigation
so Roxelana's own son, Selim, could become
the next Sultan.
Until the rule of Suleiman no Ottoman Sultan
had ever married
(Islam provides for four wives and all the concubines
a man can afford).
Roxelana became Suleiman's wife
rather than remaining his favorite concubine.
Suleiman's poem to Roxelana (it is said
he never slept with another woman after Roxelana)
reads, in part,
“My wealth, my love, my moonlight...
the most beautiful among the beautiful,
my springtime, my merry-faced love, my daytime,
my sweetheart, laughing leaf...
my woman of the beautiful hair,
my love of the slanted brow,
my love of eyes full of mischief...
I'll sing of your praises forever—
I, lover of the tormented heart, Muhibbi
of the tear-filled eyes,
I am happy.”
SUE LITTLETON: Poems of Istanbul
POETRYREPAIRS 13.02: 020