Many of Hikmet's poems were written in Sultanahmet Jail in Istanbul where he was imprisoned for many years for his political beliefs. Sultanahmet was the first jail built in Istanbul in 1918. It is now a luxury hotel.
Today is Sunday.Translated by Talat Sait Halman
For the first time they took me out into the sun today.
And for the first time in my life I was aghast
that the sky is so far away
and so blue
and so vast
I stood there without a motion.
Then I sat on the ground with respectful devotion
leaning against the white wall.
Who cares about the waves with which I yearn to roll
Or about strife or freedom or my wife right now.
The soil, the sun and me...
I feel joyful and how.
(Literature East & West, March 1973)
Galloping from Far Asia and jutting out
into the Mediterranean like a mare's head
this country is ours.
Wrists in blood, teeth clenched, feet bare
and this soil spreading like a silk carpet,
this hell, this paradise is ours.
Shut the gates of plutocracy, don't let them open again,
annihilate man's servitude to man,
this invitation is ours..
To live like a tree single and at liberty
and brotherly like the trees of a forest,
this yearning is ours.