"It's this way: being captured is beside the point
the point is not to surrender"
Nazim HikmetJust back from watching my nephew's Aussie Rules match at a nearby park, where I alternated between football and the poetry of Nazim Hikmet (Hikmet's poetry has featured on this blog before).
He spent 18 years in prison in Turkey as a political prisoner.
An exhibition of photos of Hikmet and his unpublished poems was recently held in Istanbul to commemorate his 109th birthday (a report on the exhibition is here) and a new book on Hikmet and CD of him reading his poems has also been released in Turkey.
His poetry is characterized by a wonderful generosity of spirit and a powerful sense of human solidarity. You can read more about Hikmet here.
Optimismby Nazim Hikmet
I write poems
they don't get published
but they will
I'm waiting for a letter with good news
maybe it will arrive the day I die
but it will come for sure
the world's not ruled by governments or money
but by the people
a hundred years from now
but it will be for sure
LepzigThe Optimistby Nazim Hikmetas a child he never plucked the wings off flies
he didn't tie tin cans to cats' tails
or lock beetles in matchboxes
or stomp anthills
he grew up
and all those things were done to him
I was at his bedside when he died
he said read me a poem
about the sun and the sea
about nuclear reactors and satellites
about the greatness of humanitywritten 6th December 1958 BakuAutobiographyby Nazim HikmetI was born in 1902 I never once went back to my birthplace I don't like to turn back at three I served as a pasha's grandson in Aleppo at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party's guest and I've been a poet since I was fourteen some people know all about plants some about fish I know separation some people know the names of the stars by heart I recite absences I've slept in prisons and in grand hotels I've known hunger even a hunger strike and there's almost no food I haven't tasted at thirty they wanted to hang me at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize which they did at thirty-six I covered four square meters of concrete in half a year at fifty-nine I flew from Prague to Havana in eighteen hours I never saw Lenin I stood watch at his coffin in '24 in '61 the tomb I visit is his books they tried to tear me away from my party it didn't work nor was I crushed under the falling idols in '51 I sailed with a young friend into the teeth of death in '52 I spent four months flat on my back with a broken heart waiting to die I was jealous of the women I loved I didn't envy Charlie Chaplin one bit I deceived my women I never talked my friends' backs I drank but not every day I earned my bread money honestly what happiness out of embarrassment for others I lied I lied so as not to hurt someone else but I also lied for no reason at all I've ridden in trains planes and cars most people don't get the chance I went to opera most people haven't even heard of the opera and since '21 I haven't gone to the places most people visit mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers but I've had my coffee grounds read my writings are published in thirty or forty languages in my Turkey in my Turkish they're banned cancer hasn't caught up with me yet and nothing says it will I'll never be a prime minister or anything like that and I wouldn't want such a life nor did I go to war or burrow in bomb shelters in the bottom of the night and I never had to take to the road under diving planes but I fell in love at almost sixty in short comrades even if today in Berlin I'm croaking of grief I can say I've lived like a human being and who knows how much longer I'll live what else will happen to meThis autobiography was written in East Berlin on 11 September 1961