Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Nazim Hikmet: Fourth Series from Rubaiyat

Nazim Hikmet Fourth Series
from Rubaiyat*
(translated by Randy Balsing & Mutlu Konuk)

To conquer lies in the heart, in books, and in the street,
in mother's lullabies, in the announcer's news:
to know-it's a  great happiness, my love-
to know what's past and what's to come...
Our arms are branches heavy with fruit :
the enemy shakes and shakes us,
and the better to harvest our fruit
they don't chain our feet, they fetter our minds....
As long as you love
and love as much as you can,
as long as you give your all to your love
and give as much as you can, you are young.....
In this business you must be hard and a little proud:
not cruelty, grief or sorrow
but death alone
           must see you surrender ......

Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) is considered Turkey's greatest modern poet.

Hikmet began writing his rubaiyait in prison in December 1945, when he was into his eighth year of a 28 year prison sentence as a political prisoner. 

He was outspoken, revolutionary and a dedicated political activist and communist who was first jailed in 1924 at the age of 22 for working on a leftist magazine.  He spent 18 years in prison in Turkey as a political prisoner.

Hikmet was awarded the World Peace Prize in 1950, the same year he gained his release from prison after 12 years,  following an international campaign for his release led by Picasso, Paul Robeson, Bertrand Russell, Pablo Neruda and Jean Paul Sartre. 

Within a short time of being released he was again forced into exile from Turkey in 1951. He spent the last 13 years of his life in exile from Turkey. He died in Moscow in 1963, where he is still buried, although there are moves to return his remains to Turkey.

His poetry was suppressed in Turkey for over 50 years.  It is only recently that Hikmet's citizenship was restored by the Turkish Government.

No comments: