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Turkish poet Nazym Hikmet

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kotumeyil View Drop Down
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  Quote kotumeyil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Turkish poet Nazym Hikmet
    Posted: 03-Oct-2005 at 17:01

Nazym Hikmet Ran is one of the greatest Turkish poets. Below there's a biography of him and some poems of him:


One of the most important figures in 20th century Turkish literature and one of the first Turkish poets to use more or less free verse. Hikmet became during his lifetime the best-known Turkish poet in the West, and his works were translated into several languages. However, in his home country Hikmet was condemned for his commitment to Marxism, and he remained decades after his death a controversial figure. His writings were filled with social criticism and he was the only major writer to speak out against the Armenian massacres in 1915 and 1922. Hikmet proclaimed in the early 1930s that "the artist is the engineer of the human soul." He spent some 17 years in prisons and called poetry "the bloodiest of the arts." His poem 'Some Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison' reflected his will to survive.

"To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without rest,
and I also advise weaving
and making mirrors."

(from 'Some Advice', 1949)

Nazim Hikmet was born in Salonica, Ottoman Empire (now Thessaloniki). His father, Nazim Hikmet Bey, was a civil servant, and his mother, Aisha Dshalila, was a painter. He studied briefly at the French-language Galatasary Lyce in Istanbul and attended the Naval War School, but dropped out because of ill health. He also wrote a lampoon about the British. During the war of independence, he went to Anatolia to join Atatrk and then worked as a teacher at a school in Bolu. He studied sociology and economics at the University of Moscow (1921-28) and joined the Turkish Communist Party in the 1920s.

After his return to Turkey in 1928 without a visa Hikmet wrote articles for newspapers and periodicals, film scripts and plays. From the age of 14 he had written poems. Because of his unauthorized re-entry, he was sentenced to a prison term but pardoned in 1935 in a general amnesty. In 1938 the author was condemned to prison for 28 years and four months for anti-Nazi and anti-Franco activities. Hikmet spent the following 12 years in different prisons. During this period he married Mnevver Andac - it was his second marriage. Hikmet was released in 1950 because of international protests, and escaped in a small boat from his home country in fear of an attempt on his life. His wife and his son, Memet, were not allowed to leave the country.

After losing his Turkish citizenship, he lived in the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. In 1950 he shared with Pablo Neruda the Soviet Union's International Peace Prize. Hikmet became a Polish citizen and from 1951 lived his remaining days in Sofia, Warsaw, and finally in Moscow. In spite of his heart disease and the warnings of his doctors he also travelled in Africa, China, Cuba, and spent time in Paris, Rome, and Prague. In Moscow he married for the third time. Many of Hikmet's poems, written during the years of exile, are nostalgic. In Warsaw in 1958 he wrote about platans, "white houses" and "an autumn morning in a wine yard" - there are no wine yards in Warsaw and the city is not white. A poem about Donau from the same year brings his thoughts to Istanbul. Broken in health, he died on June 3, 1963 in Moscow, where he was buried. Just a few months before his death Hikmet had written a poem, in which he bids his farewell to his neighbors in his Moscow apartment building, and ponders over how his coffin is to be transported down from the fourth floor.

"I mean you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you will plant olives -
and not so they'll be left for your children either,
but because even though you fear death you don't believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier."

(from 'On Living')

Hikmet's first poems appeared in the 1920s, but he had started to write earlier. In Moscow he saw a poem by Mayakovsky, and although he did not understand Russian, the free-flowing lines fascinated his imagination. His own passionate poetic voice Hikmet found in his twenties. In 1936 he published one of his most famous works, The Epic of Sheikh Dedreddin, which depicted a 15th century revolutionary religious leader in Anatolia. Among his later books is the five-volume MEMLEKETIMDEN INSAN MANZARALARI (1966-67), a 20,000 line epic. In his early poems Hikmet showed the influence of Mayakovsky, although he never used completely free verse. Hikmet had met the Russian writer in Moscow and worked with him at the satirical Metla theater. Typical of Hikmet's poems was change of metre and irregular use of rhymes. Hikmet combined Turkish traditional poetry with avant-gardist trends, and deeply influenced Turkish literature in the 1920s and 1930s.

As a playwright Hikmet applied the techniques of Brecht's epic theater. His Marxist-inspired dramas enjoyed success in the Soviet Union and other communist countries. Hikmet's first published play, By the Fireside (1932), was a verse drama about a poet's love. In 1932 he made a strong impact with his innovative play KAFATASI and consolidated his reputation with UNUTULAN ADAM (1935), which demonstrated the dubiousness of fame and the frequent discrepancy between one's success in the world and one's unhappiness in private life.

Other of Hikmet's dramatic works in the 1930s and 1940s includes The House of the Deceased (1932), which focuses on the greed and hypocrisy of a middle-class family. Ferhad and Sirin (wr. 1945) was based on a Persian-Turkish love legend. It was adapted into a three-act ballet and the story was filmed as a Turco-Russian co-production. IVAN IVANOVIC VAR MIYDI YOK MUYDU (1956) was written shortly after Stalin's death and attacked the cult of personality and the new hierarchy that replaced the old. The play was performed for the first time in Moscow, and was compared to Mayakovsky's The Bedbug (1928), a social satire. Sword of Damocles (1974) depicted the threat of nuclear holocaust, and SABAHAT (1977) revealed the exploitation of the hardworking people by the civic leaders.

In France and Greece, Hikmet's poetry and plays gained a wide popularity, and in 1970 he received critical praise from some prominent American poets. In Turkey the ban on Hikmet's works was lifted in 1964. A vast numbers of books and articles about the author and his work were published in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The multi-volume complete works project, started in 1968, had remained incomplete by the early 1980s. The only complete edition of his poems has appeared in Bulgaria in the 1960s.

Hikmet did not consider his theater works to be of major importance, but during the years in Moscow he met such Russian theater geniuses as Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Vachtangov and Tairov. The main themes in his plays are loneliness, betrayal and the evils of capitalism. Also many of his poems have been dramatized and staged. In 1972 Paris's Thtre de la Libert offered a production called Lgendes Venir, which was a mixture of the author's poems and Aziz Nesin's short stories. Hikmet's novels do not compare in quality to his poetry and plays. His collection of tales, SEWVDALI BULUT (1968), and his anthology of newspaper columns, IT RR KERVAN YRR (1965), represent his better production. Hikmet's three volumes of collected letters, posthumously published, reveal the author as a master letter writer.

For further reading: Encyclopedia of World Literature in the 20th Century, ed. by Steven R. Serafin (1999, vol. 2); Modern Turkish Poetry, ed. by Feyyaz Kayacan Fergar (1992); Contemporary Turkish Writers by Louis Mitler (1988); McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of World Drama, ed. by Stanley Hochman (1984); Contemporary Turkish Literature, ed. by Talat S. Halman (1982); The Poetry of Nazim Hikmet by M. Dohan (1975, in Lotus: Afro-Asian Writing, 26) - Turkin kirjallisuus, toim. Mervi Nousiainen (1997) - Other famous Turkish writers: Yashar Kemal, Melih Cevdet Anday, Haldun Taner, Aziz Nesin, Oktay Akbal, Fakir Baykurt. - Suom.: Hikmetilt on mys suomenettu runovalikoima Punainen omena (1972) ja Puut kasvavat viel (1978). - For futher information: Nazim Hikmet - (web site created by Saime Gksu and Edward Timms)

Selected works:

  • 835 SATUR, 1929
  • JOKOND ILE SI-YA-U, 1929
  • VARAN 3, 1930
  • OCAKBASI, 1932 - By the Fireside (play)
  • KAFATASI, 1932 - The Skull (play)
  • BIR L EVI, 1932 - The House of the Deceased (play)
  • PORTRELER, 1935
  • SEYH BEDREDDIN DESTANI, 1936 - The Epic of Sheik Bedreddin
  • FATMA, ALI VE BASKALARI, 1952 - Ali, Fatima and Others (play)
  • Poems by Nazim Hikmet, 1954
  • IVAN IVANOVI VAR MIYDI YOK MUYDU?, 1955 - Was There and Ivan Ivanovich or Not? (play)
  • ENAYI, 1957 - The Sucker (play)
  • INEK, 1965 - The Cow (play)
  • SU 1941 YILINDA, 1965
  • IT RR KERVAN YRR, 1965
  • SAAT 21-22 SIIRLERI, 1965
  • KAN KONUSMAZ, 1965
  • SABAHAT, 1965
  • INEK, 1965
  • YENI SIIRLER, 1966
  • RABAILER,1966
  • YOLCU (a play, written in jail, produced in 1966) - The Traveler
  • YUSUF ILE MENOFIS, 1967 - Joseph and Menofis (play)
  • Selected Poems, 1967
  • The Moskow Symphony and Other Poems, 1970
  • SON SIIRLERI, 1970
  • SEVDALI BULUT, 1972 - The Amorous Cloud
  • The Day Before Tomorrow, 1972
  • The Things I Didn't Know I Loved, 1975
  • DEMOKLESIN KILICI, 1974 - Sword of Damocles (play)
  • SABAHAT, 1977 (play)
  • The Epic of Sheik Bedreddin and Other Poems, 1977
  • Poems of Nazim Hikmet, 1994
  • Beyond the Walls: Selected Poems by Nazim Hikmet, 2002 (trans Ruth Christie, Richard McKane and Talat Sait Halman)

Samples from Hikmet's poems:

A Sad State of Freedom: 170

A Spring Piece Left in the Middle: 193

About My Poetry: 216

Angina Pectoris: 239

Autobiography: 262

Don Quixote: 285

Gioconda and Si-Ya-U: 331

Hymn to Life: 354

It's This Way: 377

Last Will and Testament: 400

Letter to My Wife: 423

Letters From a Man in Solitary: 446

Lion in an Iron Cage: 469

On Living: 492

Optimistic Man: 515

Our Eyes: 538

Regarding Art: 584

Some Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison: 607

The Strangest Creature on Earth: 630

Things I didn't Know I Loved: 653

Today is Sunday: 676

As you may guess, they are much more striking in Turkish

Edited by kotumeyil
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  Quote morticia Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Oct-2005 at 17:05
I very much enjoyed reading this, Kotumeyil. A very good poet. Thank you.

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  Quote kotumeyil Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 03-Oct-2005 at 17:17
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 24-Mar-2012 at 01:52
Nazim Hikmet:

The hair falling on your forehead
suddenly lifted.
Suddenly something stirred on the ground.
The trees are whispering
in the dark.
Your bare arms will be cold.

Far off
where we can't see,
the moon must be rising.
It hasn't reached us yet,
slipping through the leaves
to light up your shoulder.
But I know
a wind comes up with the moon.
The trees are whispering.
Your bare arms will be cold.

From above,
from the branches lost in the dark,
something dropped at your feet.
You moved closer to me.
Under my hand your bare flesh is like the fuzzy skin of a fruit.
Neither a song of the heart nor "common sense"--
before the trees, birds, and insects,
my hand on my wife's flesh
is thinking.
Tonight my hand
can't read or write.
Neither loving nor unloving...
It's the tongue of a leopard at a spring,
a grape leaf,
a wolf's paw.
To move, breathe, eat, drink.
My hand is like a seed
splitting open underground.
Neither a song of the heart nor "common sense,"
neither loving nor unloving.
My hand thinking on my wife's flesh
is the hand of the first man.
Like a root that finds water underground,
it says to me:
"To eat, drink, cold, hot, struggle, smell, color--
not to live in order to die
but to die to live..."

And now
as red female hair blows across my face,
as something stirs on the ground,
as the trees whisper in the dark,
and as the moon rises far off
where we can't see,
my hand on my wife's flesh
before the trees, birds, and insects,
I want the right of life,
of the leopard at the spring, of the seed splitting open--
I want the right of the first man.

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 25-Mar-2012 at 21:46
Nazim Hikmet

I Love You

I love you
like dipping bread into salt and eating
Like waking up at night with high fever
and drinking water, with the tap in my mouth
Like unwrapping the heavy box from the postman
with no clue what it is
fluttering, happy, doubtful
I love you
like flying over the sea in a plane for the first time
Like something moves inside me
when it gets dark softly in Istanbul
I love you
Like thanking God that we live.

Nazim Hikmet

Edited by Don Quixote - 25-Mar-2012 at 21:49
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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27-Mar-2012 at 01:11
Nazim Hykmet

I Think Of You...

I think of you
and I feel the scent of my mother
my mother, the most beautiful of all.

You are on the carousel of the festival inside me
you hover around, your skirt and your hair flying
Mere seconds between finding your beautiful face and losing it.

What is the reason,
why do I remember you like a wound on my heart
what is the reason that I hear your voice when you are so far
and I can't help getting up with excitement?

I kneel down and look at your hands
I want to touch your hands
but I can't
you are behind a glass.
Sweetheart, I am a bewildered spectator of the drama
that I am playing in my twilight.

Nazim Hikmet

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 28-Mar-2012 at 00:23
On a Fifth Day of a Hunger Strike

My brothers,
Forgive me if I'm unable to say
honestly and straightforwardly
all that I would like to say to you
I'm drunk, my head is light, it spins,
not from raki
but from hunger.
My brothers,
I'm European, I'm Asian, I'm American,
In this month of May
I'm not in jail or on a hunger strike,
But lying at night in a meadow
With your eyes as near to mine as the stars
And your hands in mine as a single hand
like the hand of my mother
like the hand of my helpmate
like the hand of life.
My brothers,
You, at least, have never abandoned me,
Not me or my country or my people.
I know that you love me and love what's ours
As I love you and love what's yours.
And for this
I thank you, my brothers,
I thank you.
My brothers,
I have no intention of dying.
And if I am killed
I know
I'll go on living
in your thoughts.
I'll live in the lines of Aragon-
in every line that describes
the coming of beautiful days-
And in the pigeons of Picasso,
And in the folksongs of Robson...
And more beautiful than anything else
more triumphant than anything else
I'll live in the jubilant laughter
of a comrade on strike day
in the port of Marseilles.
My brothers,
Since you really wish me to talk again,
I'm so happy, so happy,
that I spurt the words out!

Nazim Hikmet

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-Mar-2012 at 23:40
I Want to Die Before You

want to die before you.
Do you think that who passes later
will find who's gone before?
I don't think so.
You'd better have me burned,
and put me on the stove in your room
in a jar.
The jar shall be made of glass,
transparent, white glass
so that you can see me inside...
You see my sacrifice:
I renounced from being part of the earth,
I renounced from being a flower
to be able to stay with you.
And I am becoming dust,
to live with you.
Later, when you also die,
you'll come to my jar.
And we'll live there together
your ash in my ash,
until a careless bride
or an unfaithful grandson
throws us out of there...
But we
until that time
will mix
with each other
so much that
even in the garbage we are thrown into
our grains will fall side by side.
We will dive into the soil together.
And one day, if a wild flower
feeds from this piece of soil and blossoms
above its body, definitely
there will be two flowers:
one is you
one is me.
don't think of death yet.
I will give birth to a child.
Life is flooding from me.
My blood is boiling.
I will live, but long, very long,
but with you.
Death doesn't scare me either.
But I find our way of funeral
rather unlikable.
Until I die,
I think this will get better.
Is there a hope you'll get out of prison these days?
A voice in me says:

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02-Apr-2012 at 14:23
Poems for Pyraye

Remembering you is good
your hand
forgotten upon a blue dress
your hair
with the grave softness
of the earth of my beloved Istanbul.
This joy of loving you
is like a second person inside me...
The smell of geranium leaves
on your fingertips
warm and comforting
The invitation of your flesh
a hot
intense darkness
scored by vivid red lines...

Remembering you is good
or writing about you
as I lie on my back
in prison
thinking of such and such a day
at such and such a place
of some words you said
not of the words so much
but of the world and you within them...

Remembering you is good
I must carve some things for you again
a jewel box
a ring
I must weave a length of thin silk
then jump up
and clutching the window bars
shout what I have written for you
to the innocent blue
of freedom.

Remembering you is good
in prison
amid the news
of victory and death
as my fortieth year passes...

At this late hour
on this autumn night
I am filled with your words.
like time like matter
like an eye
like a hand
Words which sparkle
like stars.
Your words came to me
from your heart
your head
your body
Your words delivered you
Your words were sad
they were bitter
Your words were human.
September 20, 1945

Our son is sick
his father in prison
your heavy head
fallen in your tired palms
the laughter drained from your golden eyes.

will surely carry people
on to sunnier days
our son will get well
his father out of prison
your golden eyes
will fill with laughter once more...
Our fate
is the world's fate.
September 21, 1945

Reading books
you're there inside me
Hearing songs
you're inside me
Eating my bread
you're sitting before me
Or at my work
you're before me.
You're my 'silent partner'
Although we cannot speak
Although we cannot hear
each other's voices.
You're my widow of eight years.
September 22, 1945

What is she doing now
this second, this very second?
Is she at home, outside,
working, lying down, on her feet?
could she be raising her arm?
O my love!
how this movement bares
her strong white wrist!
What is she doing now
this second, this very second?
Perhaps she has a kitten on her lap,
she's petting it.
Or, perhaps she's walking, about to step.
O those feet I cherish,
those feet which bring her to me
on tip-toe when days are dark...
And what is she thinking about,
of me?
Or, who knows,
why the beans take so long to cook?
Or, even,
why the majority of men are so miserable?
What is she thinking now
this second, this very second?
September 23, 1945

The loveliest sea
is the sea not yet traveled
The loveliest child
is the child not yet born
Our loveliest days
are those we have not yet lived through.
And the loveliest word I would say to you
is the word that I have not yet said.
September 24, 1945

Squatting, I look at the earth
I look at the grasses
I look at the insects
I look at the deep blue flowers opening from stems.
I look at you, my love,
You are like the spring earth.
Stretched out on my back, I see the sky
I see the tree's branches
I see the storks flying
I see you, my love,
You are like the spring sky.
Lighting a night fire, I touch the fire
I touch the water
I touch the cloth
I touch the silver
I touch you, my love
You are the fire lit beneath the stars.
Inside of people, I love people
I love action
I love thinking
I love my struggle
I love you, my love,
You are a person inside my struggle.

9 PM
horns blare in the yard
soon they will close the cell doors.
This prison term
is longer than the others
nearly eight years now...
Living is a labor of hope, my love,
living is a serious business
like loving you...
September 25, 1945

They enslaved us
threw us in prison
inside the walls
outside the walls.
But that is nothing,
the true evil is that
or unknowingly
a man carries the prison
inside himself...
Most of the men
fallen to this state
are honorable
good men,
and deserve to be loved
as I love you.
September 26, 1945

Thinking of you
is a beautiful thing
a hopeful thing
a thing like hearing
the most beautiful song
from the world's most beautiful voice...
But hope no longer is enough for me
I no longer want to hear the song—
I want to sing it...
September 30, 1945

Above the mountain
there is a cloud
swollen with sun above the mountain.
Another day
passed without you
with and without the world another day.
They will open soon
in bursts of red
nightflowers will open in bursts of red.
Soundless bold wings
carry our separation
that separation like an exile
from the homeland...
October 1, 1945

The wind flows by
no cherry branch moves
with the same wind twice.
Birds chatter in the trees:
wings poised for flight.
A closed door:
waiting to be thrown open.
I want you
I want life to be as lovely
and friendly and good as you.
I know this feast of misery
is not yet finished.
But it will be finished...
October 2, 1945

Both of us know, my love,
they taught us
the hunger, the shivering,
the withering exhaustion,
the separation from each other.
Still, we have not been forced to kill
nor tasted the moment of being killed.

Both of us know, my love,
we can teach them
to fight for our people
to love each day
a little stronger
a little more from our souls...
October 5, 1945

Clouds pass, heavy
and swollen with news,
Crushing in my fist
the letter that hasn't come yet,
Tears in the corners of my eyes,
goodbyes said to the endless earth,
And I want to shout: Piraye!
October 6, 1945

At night, the wind carries the cries of men
across the open seas
At night, there is danger still in straying
across the open seas.
This field, unplowed for six years,
still bears the tracks of tank treads
This winter, the snow will cover
these untouched tracks of tank treads.
Ah, my dearest, the antennas are lying again
so that the merchants of sweat can close
with 100% profits.
But those who have returned from Azrail's feast
have returned with their decisions made...
October 7, 1945

I've become unbearable again
sleepless, petty, cross.
You can see
I'm working one day
like a blasphemous shrew
like a raging animal.
And then
I'm on my back the next day
from morning to evening
a lazy folksong in my mouth
like a cigarette that has gone out.
The hate
and the pity I feel for myself
hold me totally in their grasp.
I've become unbearable again
sleepless, petty, cross.
As always, I'm unfair.
Without any reason
or any possibility of one,
and even though it's a vile humiliation
I can't help it,
I'm jealous.
Forgive me...
October 8, 1945

Last night I had a dream:
You were sitting at my feet,
You raised your head, turned
Your enormous golden eyes to me,
And asked a question,
Your wet lips opened and closed,
But I didn't hear your voice.
The hour struck as though somewhere
There was good news in the night.
Whispers of endlessness in the air,
My canary in its red cage
Singing the Song of Memo.
The small cracking sounds of seeds
Pushing and lifting the earth,
And the just and triumphant humming
Of some gathering comes to my ear.
Your wet lips still opened and closed,
But I didn't hear your voice.
I awoke in a nervous uncertainty.
I had fallen asleep over my book, it seems,
But I am wondering now
Whether all those voices were not your voice?
October 9, 1945

Looking in your eyes
I am drunk with the smell of warm earth
lost in a wheat field among the stalks...
Your eyes
are like an eternal substance, changing endlessly
pits without bottom, with flashes of green...
whose secret is given up a little each day
but never completely surrendered.
October 10, 1945

When I leave the prison to meet my death
And when we turn for the last time
to look at the city,
We shall be able to say these words, my love:
'Though you never made our hearts rejoice,
we worked hard as we could
thinking we could make you happy.
Roads to happiness lead on, as life goes on.
We are content, our hearts are satisfied
with the bread we earned;
Our eyes bear the afflictions
of separation from your light.
See, we have come
and now we are going.
May you be happy,
city of Aleppo...'
October 18, 1945

We are one half of an apple
the other half is this enormous world
We are one half of an apple
the other half is our people
You are one half of an apple
I am the other half
we are two...
October 27, 1945

The smell rises from the geraniums
The waves hum on the seas
Autumn is here with its full clouds
And intelligent earth...

My love, the year has reached its maturity.
It seems that we have known
Perhaps a thousand years' worth of life,
But we are still wide-eyed children
Running hand in hand in the sun...
October 28, 1945

Forget the flowering almond trees.
Why think of that which cannot be regained?
Dry your wet hair in the sun,
Your hair with the smell of ripe fruit,
That shines, heavy and damp, with redness.
My love, my love,
the season is autumn...
November 5, 1945

From above the roofs
of my distant city,
passing the tip
of the Marmara sea,
flying over
the autumn earth
Came your voice—
moist and mature—
For three minutes.
Then, the telephone
was closed down
like pitch darkness...
November 8, 1945

The last southwinds have begun to blow
warm and humming
like blood pouring from a vein.
I listen to the weather:
it's pulse is slowing down.
There is snow on Olympia's peak.
On the Kirezli plateau
the bears with great charm and majesty
lie down on the chestnut leaves to sleep.
The poplars on the plain undress.
Silkworm eggs will be taken soon
to their winter shelter.
Autumn is about to end,
The earth to enter its pregnant sleep.
And we will pass again one more winter
with this great rage inside,
warming ourselves in the fire
of our sacred hope...
November 12, 1945

They say
it doesn't allow description—
the misery of Istanbul.
They say
the people are crushed by hunger.
They say
tuberculosis lurks everywhere.
And the young girls, they say,
are taken in the ruins
and in theater loges.

This black news comes
from my distant city,
from the city of hard-working
honest people,
from the real Istanbul,
My love,
from the city which is your home,
which I carry on my back in a bag
wherever I am exiled
wherever I am in prison
Which I bear in my heart
like the grieving for a lost child
like your image
which I hold in my eyes...
November 13, 1945

Although you'll find carnations still
in vases now and then,
seeds are being scattered in the fields
plowed up long ago for planting
and olives, stuffed with oil,
are being picked now.
On one side we're moving into winter
on another the earth is being opened
for the seedlings of spring.
As for me
filled with longing
and heavy with impatience
for great travels,
I am lying in Bursa
like a ship at anchor...
November 20, 1945

Take out from your chest
the dress you wore
the first time I saw you
and dress up
like the spring trees.
Put in your hair the carnation
I am sending you from prison,
Lift your broad forehead
white and creased with those lines
that should be kissed,
And by no means look tired
or worried on such a day.
The wife of Nazim Hikmet must be beautiful
like the flag of a rebellion
on such a day!
December 4, 1945

A hole wore through the ship's hull
the slaves cut to pieces their chains
the wind from the northeast blew
about to hurl the ship upon the rocks.
This world
this pirate ship
will sink.
Whatever happens
it will sink.
And we will create
a free, spacious, hopeful world
like your face
my Piraye...
December 5, 1945

They are the enemies of hope, my love,
the enemies of a life
that grows and develops
of a tree that bears fruit
of water that flows.
Because death is stamped on their foreheads—
their teeth rot
their flesh decays—
They'll disappear
and never come back.
And surely, my love,
surely this lovely country of mine
will be a garden of brothers
without masters or slaves...
December 6, 1945

Enemy to Receb
the towel-maker in Bursa
Enemy to Hasan
the fitter in Karabük factory
Enemy to the woman Hatçe
the village peasant
Enemy to Süleyman
the worker
Enemy to me
Enemy to you
Enemy to thinking men.
My love, they are the enemy
of the country which houses them.
December 7, 1945

On the plain
trees burn in a final effort
spangles of gold
brass and bronze.
Hooves of oxen
slowly, softly
two by two sink
in dampened earth.
And the mountains are soaked and gray
submerged in mist...
It's finished.
Perhaps this day is all
that is left of autumn.
And now the wild geese wing past
heading for Iznik lake.
Something cool in the air
like the smell of soot in the air
the smell of snow in the air...
Now to be outside!
Now to charge a horse straight for the mountains!
'But you don't know how to ride,' you'll say.
Don't laugh at me
and don't be jealous
This new love of nature
I've acquired in prison
I love almost
but not as much
as I love you...
And both of you so far away...
December 12, 1945

Snow suddenly set in at night
morning began with crows
scattering from white branches.
Winter on the Bursa plain
past the eye's reaching
recalling endlessness.

My love, the season
burst through to change
after continuous struggle,
And proud,
working hard beneath the snow
still pushing on
and up...
December 13, 1945

Damn, the winter has come down hard.
Who knows what's happened to you
and to my Istanbul.
Have you coal?
Can you get wood?
Stuff newspaper in the window cracks,
and go to bed early.
There's nothing in the house to sell,
I know...
Even when we shiver
half hungry
half full
Even in this we are in the majority
in our country
in our city
in the world.
December 14, 1945

Nazim Hikmet

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 05-Apr-2012 at 01:22
Since I've Been in Jail

Since I've been in jail
the world has turned around the sun ten times
And if you ask the earth, it will say:
'It's not worth mentioning,
a microscopic time.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's ten years of my life.'
I had a pencil
the year I came to jail.
It wore out in a week from writing.
And if you ask the pencil, it will say:
'A whole life.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's nothing, a mere week.'
Osman who was jailed for murder
completed a seven-year stretch and left
since I've been in jail.
He wandered around outside for a while,
and then got jailed again for smuggling.
He served a six-month term and left again,
and yesterday a letter came saying he's married
and a child will be born in the spring.
Now they're ten years old
the children who fell from their mothers' womb
that year I came to jail,
And the colts of that year who had long thin shaky legs
have long since become docile broad-rumped mares.
But the olive shoots are still shoots
and they're still children.
New squares have opened up in my distant city
since I've been in jail.
And our family
is living in a house I've never seen
on a street I don't know.
The bread was pure white, like cotton,
the year I came to jail.
Later it was rationed out,
And we here on the inside beat one another
for a piece of black crust the size of a fist.
Now it's free again,
But brown and tasteless.
The year I came to jail
The Second One had just begun.
The ovens in Dachau Camp were not yet lit,
The atom bomb was not yet hurled upon Hiroshima.
Time flowed like the blood of a child with his throat cut.
Later that chapter was officially closed,
Now American dollars are talking about a Third.
But in spite of everything, the days have brightened
since I've been in jail,
And about half of them
'put their heavy hands on the pavement
and on the edge of darkness
straightened up.'
Since I've been in jail
the world has turned around the sun ten times.
And again I repeat with the same passion
what I wrote for them
the year I came to jail:
whose number is as great
as ants on the earth
fish in the water
birds in the sky
are fearful and brave
ignorant and learned
and they are children,
And they
who destroy and create
it is only their adventure in these songs.'
And for the rest,
for example, my lying here for ten years,
it's nothing...

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06-Apr-2012 at 02:25
The Faces of our Women

Mary didn't give birth to God.
Mary isn't the mother of God.
Mary is one mother among many mothers.
Mary gave birth to a son,
a son among many sons.
That's why Mary is so beautiful in all the pictures of her.
That's why Mary's son is so close to us, like our own sons.
The faces of our women are the book of our pains.
Our pains, our faults and the blood we shed
carve scars on the faces of our women like plows.
And our joys are reflected in the eyes of women
like the dawns glowing on the lakes.
Our imaginations are on the faces of women we love.
Whether we see them or not, they are before us,
closest to our realities and furthest.

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  Quote Don Quixote Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-Apr-2012 at 03:04
The Japanese Fisherman

A young Japanese fisherman was killed
by a cloud at sea.
I heard this song from his friends,
one lurid yellow evening on the Pacific.

Those who eat the fish we caught, die.
Those who touch our hands, die,
This ship is a black coffin,
you'll die if you come up the gangplank.

Those who eat the fish we caught, die,
not straight away, but slowly,
slowly their flesh rots, falls off.
Those who eat the fish we caught, die.

Those who touch our hands, die.
Our loyal, hardworking hands
washed by salt and sun.
Those who touch our hands, die,
not straight away, but slowly,
slowly their flesh rots, falls off.
Those who touch our hands, die.

Almond Eyes, forget me.
This ship is a black coffin,
you'll die if you come up the gangplank.
The cloud has passed over us.

Almond Eyes, forget me.
Don't hug me my darling,
you'll catch death from me.
Almond Eyes, forget me.

This ship is a black coffin.
Almond Eyes, forget me.
The child you have from me
will be rotten from a rotten egg.
This ship is a black coffin.
This sea is a dead sea.
Human beings, where are you?
Where are you?

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