‘Gizem Dağl’, or ‘Mountain of Mystery’ in Turkish, is a poem written in the Masnavi form. Writer’s Digest explains that the Masnavi (or Mathnawi) is an ancient form with Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Urdu varieties. The style uses couplets, but with a twist: the rhymes are internal or ‘half-line’ horizontal rhymes, with each line being an independent couplet. Each line is either 10 or 11 syllables, with a consistent rhythm throughout the poem. Many masnavi poems are long poems, centered around a story or theme, often spiritual or mystical. In this poem, the author uses this ancient form to explore the legendary, literary, and biblical mystery of Mount Ararat, marrying a mountain and a form both crossed by Persian, Arabic, Turkish, and Urdu cultures.
Mountain of Mystery
Tigris Euphrates, by heaven’s floodgates
their banks overran, destroy sin the plan
all gone save one man, temptation withstand
vessel holding lands, promise kept commands
a stone altar and, verdant vineyard land
mountain mystery- dağin gizemi
Mountain of Pain
cloaking water rise, a perfect disguise
cradle well-born made, of pitched wood and blade
righteousness rising, judgment devising
tears of sorrow flow, flooding as they go
lights in the vault, thunderbolts default
unlocked heavens by, covenant on high
concealed by fountain, buried in mountain
two peaks rise like men, lesser greater then
one brought death and sin, other life within
crushed by heel that breaks, redeems our mistakes
Utnapishtim’s wife, gives the plant for life
seeking plunged headlong, Gilgamesh rights wrong
answered Urartu, stays obscured from view
old to become young, once the spring has sprung
weeks become past hours, seeds of old re-flower
Eden to return, sin and death to spurn
serpent slithers steals, skin slips and reveals
again forbidden, fruit’s secret hidden
that which man cannot, himself untie the knot
Karise Gililland has a BA in English from Southern Methodist University and a Masters in Imaginative and Cultural Apologetics from Houston Baptist University. She consumes copious amounts of time (and coffee!) shuttling her teenagers to and fro, rescuing her cats from impending peril, and writing for An Unexpected Journal. She currently teaches the most amazing third graders at a classical Christian school in Fort Worth.
Karise Gililland, “Gizem Dagl,” An Unexpected Journal: Mystery 6, no. 1. (Spring 2023), 137-140.
 Robert Lee Brewer, “Masnavi (or Mathnawi): Poetic Forms,” Writer’s Digest University, September 18, 2020, accessed January 27, 2023, https://www.writersdigest.com/write-better-poetry/masnavi-or-mathnawi-poetic-forms.