The comprehensive and regularly studying of scientific biography and creativity of Magtymguly began in its full sense in the end of the 20th century. It should be particularly noted that the Russian scholar, academician A.N.Samoylovich made a great contribution to the studying of Turkmen literature. Besides, Index To Verses of Magtymguly, he wrote his first scientific notes about the poet.3 It should be also especially noted services of the Turkmen scientists, the academician B.A.Garryyev and professor the M.Kosayev in studying creativity of Magtymguly. Several master's and doctoral theses, connected with creative work of the poet, were written as well.
Nevertheless, there are various views, concerning the poetic world of the poet, and his scientific biography. It is connected with preservation and non-preservation of historical data about the life of the poet as well as a part of his literary heritage till present time. It brought to the origination of various views concerning the years of birth and death as well as family life of Magtymguly. In the first stage of studying biography of Magtymguly the years of his birth and death were defined as 1733 and 1782. These dates of the poet's biography are defined so on the basis of book “Traveling to Central Asia” by A.Vamberi. In his book A. Vambery wrote: „He (Magtymguly-A.A.) is from Gokleng tribe of the Turkmen people, he lived 80 years ago“.5 As it is known, A.Vambery came to Central Asia in 1863. That year he took data about poet from Gyzyl ahong. According to data they came to the conclusion that Magtymguly died in 1783. A.Vambery did not give any information about the time of birth and death of Magtymguly. Despite it, the acceptance of 1733 year as a date of Magtymguly's birth was made according to A.Vambery's refernece to data taken from Gyzyl ahong and other information heard from people. In 1939, one of the first researchers of the Turkmen literature Gurgenli Ahundov wrote: “If according to the European scholar of the 19th century Magtymguly died in 1783, then according to more reliable data, taken from later generation, Magtymguly died in 1195 of Hegira, i.e. 1780, at the age of 49.”6 A.Gurgenli published poems by Magtymguly in 1940, and repeted his idea in its preface: “Magtymguly was born in 1731 and died in 1780”.7 After this publication, that is, in 1941, Ruhy Aliyev and Gurgenli Ahundov published the third edition of the poet’s verses. R. Aliyev as opposed to Gurgenli Ahundov wrote in the preface to this edition: “Magtymguly Pyragy was born in 1733, in Etrek, in Ginjay locality near famous Akdepe Hill” 8and put forward his hypothesis that the year of death of the poet is 1733. Unlike A. Gurgenli, R. Aliyev expresses his opinion concerning the date of death of the poet. He writes more exactly about it: “Magtymguly lived about 50 years and died in 1782”.9
Magtymguly scholar B. A. Garryyev in his article “Turkmen Literature Is Our Pride” also confirms the same dates concerning Magtymguly’s life, given by R.Aliyev, stating that “Magtymguly was born on the bank of the Etrek river and died in 1782 in that locality”10 . So, Magtymguly scholar B. Garryyev is guided by A.Vamberi’s notes concerning the date of the poet’s death but supports R. Aliyev’s idea relating to the date of his birth. Thus, these dates were given in works and textbooks, written in the 40-ies and later. Therefore, with the lapse of time, several Magtymguly scholars have their doubts about these dates because while studying the poet’s verses and data, given by the people more closely, the hypothesis that the poet was born earlier than 1733 and died later than 1782 appeared. The academician B. A. Garriyev was the first one among those who doubted about the dates of Magtymguly’s birth and death. He wrote in his article “About the Biography of Magtymguly”: “The years of Magtymguly’s birth and death are not exactly known because there is no historical document about it”. After that, a famous scientist R. Rejepov in his article “On Defining of does Magtymguly’s Date” and professor M. Kosayev in his article “Talk About Literature” considered this issue and put forward their opinion that the poet was born earlier than 1733. This opinion of the scholars is well-grounded. For example, Magtymguly wrote in his poem “For Chovdur Khan” that Chovdur Khan went to “Ahmet Khan to ask about his state”. Ahmet Shah went to Mashat for the last time in 1769-1970. He died in 1772. If we say that Magtymguly was born in 1733, so in 1770, he was at the age of 36-37, not coincided with the fame of Chovdur Khan who went to Ahmet Shah. Magtymguly concludes his poem “Chovdur Khan”, dedicated to his death, this way:
Magtymguly, my peregrine bird flied,
My patron, bosom friend, and brother
My grey-haired head, can't understand
I am in a fog, Chovdur Khan.
If the writer wrote his poem when he was touched with grey, more exactly, when he was in his middle age, at least, he might be 45, because his line “ My grey-haired head, can't understand” proves it. This and other suchlike evidences, give us an opportunity to suppose that Magtymguly was born approximately in 1724.
Magtymguly also wrote in his poems about his age. In the poem “Master Knows” he writes that his age is 80:
In 50, you shed your blood with enemy,
What did you do in your 80?
There is no date in his verses about his life after 80. In his poem, appealed to his contemporary poet by name Zunuby, the poet concludes his verse this way:
Let’s count from Resul day,
The year of one thousand two hundred and eleven,
The bridge of misfortune, let’s come to native land,
Zunuby says, and it is my answer.
Here, Zunuby answered the question asked by Magtymguly „how many years have passed since the death of Muhammet the Prophet?“ as „1211 years have passed since the death of Resul-Muhammet the Prophet“. Muhammet the Prophet died in 632 by Julian calendar. If we add 1211 of Hegira to 632 by Julian calendar it will be 1806 by Julian calendar. Guiding by it, we can suppose that Magtymguly did not die in 1806. But we must pay attention to one circumstance as well. The poems, where the talk between two charaters takes place are created in two cases. Firstly, one poet sends his poem consisting of different answers with the purpose of defining his level of knowledge. The other poet, who receives letter, answers to the given questions. The poems by Magtymguly “How Many Years Old?” and “What is Fire?”, sent to Durdy poet as well as the poem “Who is Indifferent?” sent to Orazmengli poet, are a vivid example of it. Secondly, some poets address in their poems not to definite person but ask in general various questions. In this case, poets can answer them. Even could poets who lived in later periods also has answer them. Such verses by Magtymguly like “One Won”, “The Disgraced World”, “The Third from Ovlat”, “I Saw a Beauty” and others can be it’s example. In such cases any poet can write his answers to the questions. Even a poet who lives in later time can answer them as well. In general, comparing various data one can suppose that Magtymguly died approximately in 1807. Father of Magtymguly, the Turkmen classic poet Dovletmammet created his literary works under the nickname Azady. The name of the poet’s mother was Orazgul. Magtymguly was brought up in a large family. He had several brothers and sisters. He got his primary education from his father. He wrote so about it:
If to say about hard life,
I’ll say that my father taught me.
In the poem „Is he God?“ revealed in later period, it is written about one more person, who is named as his Pir, his master of science by name Begdurdy Ishan:
The man who will be remembered forever
Is our Pir Begdurdy Ishan.
Perhaps, Begdurdy Ishan taught Magtymguly during his study in Shirgazy Madrasa during three years. There is data about his study in Gigeldash Madrasa in Bukhara. It can be read in the following lines of the poet:
Once, at night, when I was asleep,
The madman called Bahaveddin came to me.
Magtymguly highly respected Bahaveddin Nagyshbendi. He even connected his poetic inspiration with Nagyshbendi:
Once, when I slept at night,
Shah Nagyshbendi came and inspired me.
Magtymguly followed the Nagyshbendi trend in Sufism. This trend of Sufism adhered to such principles like patriotism, freedom, and struggle for liberty. This trend of Sufism made a considerable contribution to the formation of feeling of patriotism in Magtymguly’s inspired soul. In his poem “If I be a Personality”, the poet remembers with great honour the famous poets like Abu Seyit, Omar Hayyam, Firdovsi, Nyzamy, Hafiz, Novayi and others.
In his youth Magtymguly liked a girl. He writes about it in his poem “I Enjoyed”:
In 17, I fell in love,
I came to the field with feeling of love.
The poet could marry his beloved girl, but their happy life didn't last long:
After 17, I entered the home of glory,
I married a beautiful girl, lived in happiness,
I picked the red garden flower,
In 20, I became unhappy,
Life separated me from my beloved.
The poet experienced hardships and became unhappy when he was 20. His beloved wife died when he was 20. Magtymguly again met his first love and wrote about it:
I fell in love withan attractive girl,
And have met again her.
The following words prove that the fate separated the poet from his wife: „Don't be clever my obstinate mind even you are separated from my dear wife“. After that, he became a widower:
My beloved, come to me,
Being widower hurts much me.
Time passsed, wounds abate, the young soul became inspired and wants to live. In such condition he met Mengli. The poet said: “You reminds me my dead wife“ and remebering her compares his wife with him. The poet loved her from the bottom of his heart. But they couldn't be together. The poet said: „She was fated to be a wife of another one“ and composed tens of verses about it. His dream about marrying Mengli, which didn't come true is expressed in his poetic lines.
The wise poet had not children. In his poems the poet expressed his grief that he is an unhappy man because he had no children. The poet's verses tell about hardships which he had to go through. Even, there was a period in his life when he was in prison:
Magtymguly is bound in inprisonment,
There is nothing of my epic poem,
Pirs and ishans are in prison, too,
What can I do? I was separated from my caravan.
Magtymguly, mainly created his poems under his name. Besides, he used such nicknames like Pyragy, Gul Magtym, and Magtymy.
More than 70 verses and 10 long poems have been preserved till our days. The 80% of them are manuscripts and the rest ones were written from hearsay. We believe that the number of works created by this wise, unsatisfied with his time and world poet, who expressed his feelings and inner world, is much more than stated above. We can say so without taking into account data taken from the words of people, the following ones testify it:
Suddenly, enemy attacked us,
They crushed our troops,
I wrote one book during five years,
The enemies routed us from all sides.
My books were taken by floods
I only stayed in embarrassment.
The creativity of Magtymguly, who devoted his life to service of his native people, is rich and comprehensive. The life of turkmen people in XVIII century, the historical and political events of various periods, love for his native land, warm attitude to the people who grew him, social and living problems of the definite period, the beauty of nature, moral principles, purity of love take their deserving place in the creativity of the poet. Magtymguly introduced great changes not to the history of the Turkmen literature but literature of the Turkic speaking peoples. The academician V.V.Bartold said: „...Only Turkmen people had their national poet among all Turkic speaking people“ and probably he took into account those transformations. Before Magtymguly the life of ordinary people were not described in the works of the Turkic literature, including turkmen literature as well. The voluminous, real works in the Turkic literature were created before Magtymguly on the basis of the trasferring plots, legends, and parabales. We take into consideration here such works created on the basis of various plots like“Yusup and Zuleykha“, „Leyli and Mejnun“, „Sagdy and Vakgash“, „Zeynelarap“, Hysrov and Shirin“, „Perhat and Shirin“ and others. The works of literature, glorifying military campaigns of Sultans, kings and khans are known in literature before Magtymguly. Therefore, they did not describe the life of ordinary people. While speaking about the small-size poetic works, we can say that there are many works glorifying famous poets, sultans, shahs and khans. Such phenomena are often met in creativity of the poets who served in king's courtyard. In major cases, the content of suchlike works are similar. They contain personal interest and benefit. There is such a poem in creativity of Magtymguly as well glorifying Ahmet Shah, who founded the independent Afghan state. The poet begins his verse with such lines:
Ahmet Shah is famous in the world,
His fame is spread on the whole land.
What was the aim of the poet while creating this work with great inspiration? Whether the poet wrote this poem with inspiration to get some gift or post in the courtyard of Ahmet Shah? No, the main purpose of the poet in this verse was concern about people. In this poem, the writer takes care about his people who were regularly attacked by enemies because of their religious belives. He waited support from Ahmet Shah in this issue. As it is known from history, Ahmet Shah also wanted to keep close relations with the Turkmen people. He wanted support of the turkmen people in his military campaigns who were distinguished by their military art and courage. In the period of such tense political events, Magtymguly created his poem dedicated to Ahmet Shah. This poem is not an ode. The poem is written on the political topic, the political theme of the turkmen people of XVIII century. Any reader who reads his poem „Those, Who Cry“ becomes confident of it. The verse „Your Time“ by this poet is also written on the political theme:
Govern, Fath the Son of ruler, the time has come,
This period is yours.
The happy time comes instad the hard one,
This glorious and powerful time is yours.
Magtymguly also glorifies Muhammethasan Khan believing that he would stand for the Turkmen people in their fight against enemy and inspires him for struggle. There are no ideas about the unification of various Turkmen tribes, about their friendship, the building of independent Turkmen state in the poems of this poet “The Sky is Crying” and “Your Highness”. The poet dreams in these poems about peaceful life of the Turkmen people but he could not define clearly the politically correct way. Magtymguly understood that they would not be able to obtain peace and unity with support of Ahmet Shah and Muhammethasan and other rulers but he realized that it can be obtained by unity of the tribes, expressing his ideas in his poems.
In time of Magtymguly, not only tribes but even clans were not friendly with each other. Expressing this by poet's words, we can say “Every person is Sultan for himself”. So, the poet realized that it was necessary first of all to unite the tribes and clans. Such idea appeared in his verse “The Goklengs”. In this poem, the author inspires his fellow tribesmen to struggle and adds them enthusiasm.
When Goklengs go to the desert,
They remind gazelles and onagers.
If they go to the battle field,
They are like hungry lions.
With the lapse of time, the author comprehends the other reality. It is not enough to keep friendly relations only with fellow tribesmen. So he began to propagandize unification with neigbouring tribes as well. He understood that unification of different turkmen tribes would be a great force against the outer enemies and would lead to their success. So he writes with inspiration:
The Goklengs and Yomuts will influence each other,
It will be a great military force.
The Deshdi-Dahan valley will not be enough,
They will spread and settle everywhere.
The unity and solidarity of the Yomut and Gokleng tribes was not enough. So, the poet called to unite all Turkmen tribes. The verse of the poet “We Shed Our Tears” testifies it as well. Magtymguly was the first poet who touched upon the issue of unification of the Turkmen people and foundation of the state.
If Turkmens unite together;
The Gulzum and Nil rivers will be dried,
The tribes of Teke, Yomut, Gokleng, Yazyr, Alili,
Let’s serve to one Ruler.
The poet comes to conclusion that being in all political events of the time, all Turkmen tribes must unite and establish an independent state. The poet’s idea of unification of the Turkmen tribes and foundation of sovereign state appeared in his verses “The Turkmens” and “The Turkmen State”:
The Teke, Yomut, Yazyr, Gokleng and Ahal be united,
Live in friendship and prosperity.
While calling Turkmen tribes to live in unity, while appealing to resist enemies with united forces, he glorifies the historical personalities as well. But his odes distinguished from other ones, existed in the literature of the Middle Ages. Glorifying the definite Khan or Afghan ruler - Ahmet Shah, Magtymguly guided from the benefits of the people. More exactly, the poet called them to fight with enemies of the Turkmen people. We can see such circumstance in elegies, written by Magtymguly in connection with death of such Turkmen khans like Chovdur Khan and Dovletaly. These courageous Turkmen khans were killed in battles with foreign enemies. Magtymguly expresses his grief for them:
Chovdur Khan is my protector
I died and I am in deep grief,
Famous among Goklengs, people need in him,
You left your people forever.
The historic character of the creativity of Magtymguly is a distinctive feature of the Turkmen and Turkic language speaking poets, who created their works of literature earlier him. The poet depicts the definite historical events in his works, taken place on the Turkmen land, he takes hard the death of his contemporaries, who perished for peaceful life of the Turkmen people, and the joy of people gladdened and inspired him. Perhaps, we do not meet lines similar to the following ones, written by Magtymguly, in the creativity of the Turkic speaking poets, who wrote their works of literature before him:
Magtymguly, it is an ill fate,
Troubles me much,
The Turkmen people, the whole nation,
I see them on peaceful land.
One can feel the mastery of the great personality in them. Magtymguly connected literature with the life of people. The people’s life of XVIII century has found its embodiment in poems by Magtymguly. We can read in verses of Magtymguly about historical and political events, taken place in the life of the Turkmen people in XVIII century, the traditions and customs of the Turkmen people, the character features peculiar to the Turkmen women and girls as well as the whole Turkmen people in general. But the character of the poet’s works is not the same in various periods of his creativity.
The themes of Fatherland, peaceful life, the unity of people, the statehood are the well-elaborated ones in the creativity of Magtymguly. Magtymguly considered all these themes not in separation from each other but as a single one connecting them with each other. The poet shows his sufferings in the following like line “I am uneasy about my land and time”, saying:
Enemies attacked us on the battle field,
I don’t know whether it is good for people’s fate.
The depiction of the Turkmen girl under her own name, such character features like modesty, self-consciousness, politeness, peculiar to the Turkmen girls, as well as natural attractiveness of the images of the girls clearly and colorfully is one of the novelties introduced by Magtymguly to the Turkmen literature. He also introduced the sacredness of the feeling of love to the literature of the Turkic speaking peoples. One can feel in poems of Magtymguly his pure love for Mengli. The flower blossomed in the garden of the Turkic literature and nightingale, glorifying its beauty was joined with life reality of the creativity of Magymguly. Not usual flower or nightingale, admiring its beauty is glorified in poems of the poet, but the definite person is glorified under his nationality and tribe, and personal name:
Good people live there,
With cold rivers and green gorges,
The name - Mengli from Gokleng tribe,
I was separated from my love.
A reader does not meet here such names like Zuleyha, Leyli, Shirin or such like which were widely used in the Eastern Literature, but here appears a new character, not elaborated in the earlier literature, who lived in definite period and definite place. In reality, Mengli is not a literary heroin. She is a real person - a girl whom Magtymguly loved. In his own love Magtymguly is also not Yusup, Mejnun or Hysrov. Let’s read the following lines:
My pain is stronger sixty times than Mejnun’s,
I have strong health to teach Perhad for forty years.
If there was not such ardent love, Magtymguly who is “in his 60-ies” would not write:
My love is deep for dear Mengli,
Nobody took pity on me, so I am unhappy.
We do not feel the depiction of the beauty of a definite Turkmen girl not only in the history of the Turkmen or Turkic literature, but in the Eastern literature as well as the creativity of the unextinguishable star of the world literature Nesimi, who didn’t imagine his life without Turkmen people, and who wrote in his verses:
Though you speak Arabian,
Don’t forget, you are Turkmen.
Novayi glorified in his poems the Turkmen girls or love for the Turkmen land, particularly – Mary locality, he writes:
If Novayi protect the Turkic people, don’t be surprised of it,
He is Turkmen by his origin, you know.
Or in the creativity of Muhammet Fuzuly Bayat, who was from the Turkmen ancient Bayat tribe by his origin. Let’s read such lines by Magtymguly:
She closes her face,
She says the sweetest words,
But Magtymguly sees only one,
The girl by the name Mengli.
As it is seen from the examples, the image of beloved girl appeared in the Turkmen classic literature of XVIII century. Love is connected with God in the Sufi literature. Even love of the heroes in epic poems “Leyli and Mejnun”, “Yusup and Zuleyha” is also given in the definite frameworks. But Magtymfuly went beyond the bounds of this framework. It does not mean that Magtymguly didn’t achieve the classic principles of the Turkmen Sufi literature. He followed the principles of the Sufi literature in his many poems like “Who Are You?”, My Ordeals”, “I Love” and others. But, being the poet, he went beyond the bounds of the Sufi literature and made literature more real.
One meets tens poems in creative work of Magtymguly connected with inequality of rights and injustice in life. The poet guides the people’s interest in this question and emphasized with troubles of the ordinary, poor people:
The rivers disappeared, mountains ruined,
The orphans became to cry,
The haughty and cruek Begs,
Began to ruin our land.
We have mentioned above the reasons of written elegies of Magtymguly, connected with the death of Chovdur Khan, Dovetaly Khan and others as well as odes, written in the honour of Ahmet Shah, and Muhammethasan Khan. The poet also wrote much about the cruelty of khans who brought many ordeals to their people:
The Gokleng Khans became impudent,
They tortured us much,
They drove the people’s cattle,
We were drowned in tears.
The poet writes about ordeals brought by cruel shah to his people in the poem “The Fetdah”:
You made unhappy the Turkmen people,
You ruined the country, and spilled our blood
Certainly, the poet understood well that “he could be killed and ruined completely” for his poem. But “Whether poet, who loves his native land and people, can live being afraid of his death?”. Certainly, he can’t. If he didn’t write such poems he, Magtymguly, would not turn into the national pride of the Turkmen people.
The creativity of Magtymguly, who made many changes in the Turkmen literature of XVIII century, was turned into an original school for the next generations of poets. The representatives of XVIII century and further periods learnt much from Magtymguly to bring literature closer to the people and to enrich the literary heritage of the Turkmen nation.
The creativity of the poet distinguishes not only by diversity of the themes but by the use of various artistic means, inspiration and embodiment of images:
My eyes will be filled with tears,
And my state will be bad.
The mountains bowed their head, and covered with fog,
The winds could not stand up from land.
One can meet suchlike lines almost in all poems. Magtymguly attached new coloring to the Turkmen people's proverbs and wise sayings in his creativity as well:
Each charming girl has bad features,
If look carefully at milk, one will see blood in it.
In this verse, the poet could masterfully combine two proverbs “There is no woman without bad features” and “If look carefully at milk, the blood will be seen”.
The use of expressive means, various methods of versification made verses created by the great Magtymguly immortal.
The whole creativity of Magtymguly defined by famous scholars as a national classic poet is full of national mentality. Magtymguly is a life of the Turkmen people of XVIII century. This life has its embodiment in creativity of the poet with its joy and grief, victories and failures.
If Magtymguly acted as a son of Dovletmammed Azady-Garry Mullah, whom the Turkmen people considered as a holy man, he called people to be ready to die for honour:
Magtymguly says, I am brave and people know it,
Nobody will be saved if he hurts me and humbles me.
If Magtymguly didn’t go beyond the Turkmen mentality of XVIII century, he could not apply to God saying words “Oh, the Most High, don’t interfere my good and bad acts” in period when it was considered that everything is happened by will of God. In reality, Magtymguly himself is an original world. To understand it one must try to come closer to the inner spiritual world of the poet. The spiritual world of Magtymguly does not give a moment's peace to his admirers.
While speaking about Magtymguly, we mainly say about ordinary human being, at least, ordinary poet, but we should understand that Magtymguly is not an ordinary person, that he had a great talent and unique spiritual world. If we don’t do so, we will not be able to understand the natural gift of the outstanding personality who changed completely the Turkic literature and connected it with people’s life.
The famous orientalist Ye. E. Bertels rightfully said:”…we must comprehensively study his (Magtymguly’s-A.A.) creativity, analyze each word trying to understand the meaning of his words”.
Annagurban ASHYROV, Doctor of Philological Sciences.