Süleyman’s Heart – a poem by Kate Rauner

Süleyman the Magnificent,Suleymanname_nahcevan
of Ottoman’s golden age,
The warrior poet, centuries dead,
may write another page.
His army’s westward march was stopped
in rural Hungary.
There they paused and set up camp
for a castle’s bloody siege.
Five desperate weeks the castle held
against the Turkish men,
Yet as it fell, death arrived
for the grand sultan.
A buggy marsh is not the place
to lay a corpse in state.
Against Islam, he was embalmed,
lest his son arrive too late.
His body then was carried home,
his tomb revered today,
But legend tells of something left behind,
that stayed.

Stories say, beneath his tent,
his noble heart was buried;
But as to where that tent had stood,
all the tales varied.
Archeologists, they say
the buried heart’s a myth,
But the town of Turbek;
there’s evidence for this.
Evidence that a thriving town
served pilgrims to a shrine,
Though mosque and inn and public baths
have disappeared with time.
Searched mountains of old documents,
letters, maps that say
The sultan’s tent could view the siege
an hour’s walk away.
Charted where the crops were grown:
vineyards, fruits, and grain,
With computer models, figured where
he might have lain.
Soil samples, test digs;
now their data tell
Of Persian tiles, Turkish bricks;
there is no parallel.
A treasure cask, a buried heart,
a myth from folklore told.
But tourists, they will come again today, and bring
their gold.

Inspired by the archeological digs of Norbert Pap, a professor of political geography at the nearby University of Pécs. “I started doing this simply because I was looking for a challenge,” Pap says. nationalgeographic.com

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