Tag Archives: Nazım Hikmet Ran

On Turkish Roads to the Legitimation of Child Rape: Remembering Nazım as a Form of Escapism

Turkey: Thousands protest against proposed child sex law

The news was impossible to disregard. Regarded it, I have. Writing my reaction to it in nonfiction, however, was far too disturbing of a thought for me – an older woman, born into and raised in a modernized Turkey before leaving for the now similarly tainted United States in pursuit of an advanced academic career decades ago. So: I have resorted to poetry…yet once again.


My poem below first appeared here on October 19, 2014 in Turkish – the language in which I had initially conceived it, translating it to English shortly after. The photograph above of Nazım Hikmet, known as Nazım Hikmet Ran as well (1902-1963) had donned this page also back then. I am re-posting the poem in question with minor changes in their original articulations. This world-renowned exilic poet of Turkey had in persistence written – among numerous other humanity-related wrongdoings – on the objectionable status of Turkish women in their country of birth at large. I recognized Nazım’s deep-rooted concern inside me all over again in the face of the latest uproar in Istanbul, and so I reached for the prophetic conclusions he had drawn in his poem, “Kadınlarımız” (the italicized sections represent my direct quotes from Nazım).

Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış yurdun acı gerçeklerini
kadınımızdan biteviye esirgenenleri
ister olsun tek bir başına ister kocasının yanında
olsun varsın bir bebesi, o verici böğrünün öz yuvasında

ince, küçük çeneleri, kocaman gözleriyle
anamız, avradımız, yarimiz kadınlar
ama anaya yakışan saygıyı
analıklarında bile göremeyen analar
soframızdaki yeri öküzümüzden sonra gelen

doğurmasa, erkeğinin asla göze alamayacağı bir fedakarlıkla
hayatın yegane masumiyet hazinesini ona hediyeleyen
herkes ana oluyorları kendine defalarca yediren
gene de yüzlerinden tebessüm nadiren eksilen
aynı yorgun alışkanlık çemberine
mahkum edilen kadınımız

Nazım Hikmet’i hatırlıyorum…

nasıl da iyi tanımış senle beni,
onu şunu bunu
bizi sizi onları

bilmiş çok öncesinden bugünü geçmişi ve de geleceği
‘avradını, yarini’ analıklarında bile hiçe saymaya
ant içmiş erkeklerimizin tek toplar damarlı aile sofrasına
katmış cömert bir asaletle bu dahi destanına…

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How transparent our country of birth was to him
How deprived of life our women are
Whether single or decorating their husbands
With their babies cradled inside their selfless breasts

Our women with their fine, small chins and huge eyes;
Women that are our mothers, wives, lovers
But the kind of mothers
Who are robbed of motherly respect
Even in their motherhood

Our women who are forsaken
During meals for the sake of our oxen
Women who gift their men
Life’s ultimate treasure
A breath of innocence or more
If it weren’t for them
Whose men would never dare to undergo
The same great sacrifices of the self

Women who must tolerate
Their men’s oft-shouted ridicule:
Everyone can be a mother.
You are nothing special.

Women who nevertheless
Try not to neglect a smile from the face
Who are chained to the deadening same old tired rut

I am thinking of Nazım Hikmet…

How well he knew you me her us them
The present the past the future
Of his never-forgotten home
Of its single-veined patronizers

He knew it so well
That with his chivalric saga
He welded our women’s one-legged stools
Atop the food table of their men who seem to have sworn
To belittle their wives, their lovers even in their maternity divine…


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. . .


[Image and Text Credit]

Winter is about to pull in
but the heart is unready for its arrival as yet.

~ Own translation (10.21.2016)

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“Bence Artık Sen De Herkes Gibisin”

Whenever I write a poem in my native language, I leave it in its original voice for the majority of the time. If, however, I decide to post it to any of the social media platforms in which I participate, then I translate it to English in order not to alienate any reader who might have taken interest in my writings before. Today’s post is one of the few exceptions I have allowed myself recently. I knew right away while I was putting it on paper that this one just had to remain untouched by any language-bridging effort on my part. It was pouring itself into me in the language through which I had first begun to conceive the world. Turkish. My mother tongue. And no other was going to do.

. . . after a prolonged period of grieving over a loss to life, a wo/man begins to unkill the scarringly degraded self at last. For s/he realizes s/he has taken one misstep at a crossroads many moons ago toward self-annihilation in the face of the choices of the other . . . by placing too high a value on that same other . . . whom s/he now finds no different than any other . . . and wails one last time: No more.

hak ettiğinden çok daha fazla değer vermişim sana
benzeri bir ihtimamı bile benden esirgemen karşısında
canımın bunca zaman bu kadar derinden kanaması ondan

itiraf etmiştim ya bize sonuncu bitişte de
candan can alıcı dersleri 
ben pek bir yavaş öğrenirim diye
hele ki böylesine büyülenmişçesine kendinden vere vere sevince

henüz yeni karar verebildim…


zerre kadar benzemezmiş hayat meğerse
senin zaten onun da galibi olduğun akademiye

kendimden geçercesine inanmamak istedim
kimsenin bilmediği acılar çekti o aptal yüreğim
ama öğrendim işte sonunda
öylesine iyi öğrendim ki
Nazım’ın kaleminden şunu diyebiliyorum:
* “Bence Artık Sen De Herkes Gibisin”

© hülya n. yılmaz, 9.8.2016

* The phrase that begins and ends my post today is the title of a widely known poem by Nazım Hikmet Ran. The world-renowned Turkish exilic writer repeats the same utterance throughout this poetic art work: “You are now just like everybody else in my eyes”. Nazım’s context for the phrase: Romantic love. Mine: The same.

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Filed under Reflections

. . .

for 8.24.2016


August 24, 2016 · 7:00 am

“a woman of Anatolia”

a woman of Anatolia


thousands of years

numbers of civilizations

splendor in built-in riches



social, economic, religious reforms met the onset of 1923

Mustafa Kemal in Turkey – the infant republic’s first president

over night, the gentle father of his country for her people


she led a prosperous life since

enviable by the then world powers

jealous of his immense success

from the ruins of the Ottoman land


women became free

not in public merely

but also in their privacy

in her unrivaled bosom

the honor the pride of countless cultural icons

immersed in precious peace-filled diversity

self-differing faiths settled safely inside her

attained in his honor her long overdue legacy



co-existence ruled


decades later…





religion’s unreligious re-construction

of a merciless tyrant raped and is still raping her

unrelenting in its destruction of her glorious past

harmonious present

having robbed her of her dazzling future


monstrosity rules today

with its brutal violation of Turkish women’s fate

with no drop of hope for any left behind to date


© hülya n. yılmaz, February 16, 2015

This poem is one of my three contributions for the February 2015 issue of The Year of the Poet, a monthly book series published by Inner Child Press, Ltd.









Mustafa Kemal (Atatürk) Photo Source






Nazım Hikmet Photo and Spoken Poem Source


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Nazım Hikmet (1902-1963): A lover – of women and his country of birth

th-2 thNazım-Hikmet-Hoş-Geldin-Kadınım-Şiiri-e1341589160999-150x150th-1










At times, we believe what we want to believe, don’t we?  Similarly, we refuse to believe what others may claim?  Such as an attribute given to a well-known poet?  Just like I do, with Nazım (I don’t even want to refer to him with his full name – it feels so very alien and impersonal…), the world-renowned Turkish exile poet.  I never believed he was a traitor, as claimed by some officials of Turkey in the past (there was a retraction of such claims after Nazım’s death), nor a womanizer (but a lover of love, one woman at a time). When this most influential writer died (on exile, craving to be in his country of birth), I was a mere eight year-old.  My passionate engagement with his poetry and other writings have everything to do with the development and intensification of my own interest.  Not because of schooling on his persona and work, or parental introduction (on the contrary: I believe my father was also under the negative influence of one of Turkey’s population segment; my mother always remained neutral – she wouldn’t comment at all, I suspected she, too, liked him outside the norm…).  The more I actively read Nazım’s written word, the more drawn I became to everything he stood for.  Let’s call him my very first crush, okay?  Incredibly handsome, a stellar composer of poetry, the center of attention of the entire country – for this or that reason, immensely influential nationally as well as abroad: a timeless love, to admit.  For today, I have for us two examples from his poetry – not at all the most frequently cited ones, by the way.  Both works address his love for which he was known to have possessed an extraordinary passion: one, to a woman (“Ben senden önce ölmek isterim”, “I want to die before you”); the other (“Sen”, “You”), to Turkey, his country of birth – one among his numerous poems of homesickness.  It is not any time of anniversary for Nazım.  I am reminiscing him simply because during most of my awake times, he is in my heart and mind.  For, at this stage in my life, I finally am aware more of his value for and contributions to world literature – a subject matter of my special interest as far as my professional undertaking.  I hope you will enjoy this short journey in to a glorious past of the Turkish civilization of contemporary times – an aspect of the country that today is fading away fast and under the harshest possible forces.


senden önce ölmek isterim.
Gidenin arkasından gelen
gideni bulacak mı zannediyorsun?
Ben zannetmiyorum bunu.
İyisi mi, beni yaktırırsın,
odanda ocağın üstüne korsun
içinde bir kavanozun.
Kavanoz camdan olsun,
şeffaf, beyaz camdan olsun
ki içinde beni görebilesin…
Fedakârlığımı anlıyorsun :
vazgeçtim toprak olmaktan,
vazgeçtim çiçek olmaktan
senin yanında kalabilmek için.
Ve toz oluyorum
yaşıyorum yanında senin.
Sonra, sen de ölünce
kavanozuma gelirsin.
Ve orda beraber yaşarız
külümün içinde külün,
ta ki bir savruk gelin
yahut vefasız bir torun
bizi ordan atana kadar…
Ama biz
o zamana kadar
o kadar
ki birbirimize,
atıldığımız çöplükte bile zerrelerimiz
yan yana düşecek.
Toprağa beraber dalacağız.
Ve bir gün yabani bir çiçek
bu toprak parçasından nemlenip filizlenirse
sapında muhakkak
iki çiçek açacak :
biri sen
biri de ben.
daha ölümü düşünmüyorum.
Ben daha bir çocuk doğuracağım.
Hayat taşıyor içimden.
Kaynıyor kanım.
Yaşayacağım, ama çok, pek çok,
ama sen de beraber.
Ama ölüm de korkutmuyor beni.
Yalnız pek sevimsiz buluyorum
bizim cenaze şeklini.
Ben ölünceye kadar da
bu düzelir herhalde.
Hapisten çıkmak ihtimalin var mı bu günlerde?
İçimden bir şey :
belki diyor.

                                                                18 Şubat 1945
Piraye Nâzım Hikmet


My translations of both poems – in the hope that I do some justice to their magnificence:

I want to die before you (“Ben senden önce ölmek isterim”)

February 18, 1945 – To Piraye [It is also argued that this rare find was a poem Piraye wrote to Nazım, instead of Nazım to Piraye.]


I want to die before you

Do you think the one who comes after will find the one who is gone?

I don’t think so.

You’d better have me cremated,

you can place me atop the wood burner in your room inside a jar.

Let the jar be of glass,

transparent, white glass

so that you can see me inside…

You understand my sacrifice:

I give up becoming a piece of the soil,

I give up becoming a flower

just to be next to you.

And I turn to dust

living next to you.

Then, when you also die

you can join me in my jar.

And there, we will live together

your ashes, within my ashes,

until a careless daughter-in-law

or a disloyal grandchild

throws us out of there…

But we will intertwine in each other

until then, so that.

once thrown in to the garbage,

even there, our particles will fall next to one another.

We will dive in to the soil together.

And one day, if a wild flower

should find water and bloom out of this piece of soil

on its stem, two flowers will open:

one you

one I.

I don’t think of death yet.

I will give birth to one more child.

Life explodes out of me.

My blood boils.

I will live, and much, very much,

but you, also.


death doesn’t scare me, either.

I just find our burial style too distasteful.

I assume that will correct itself until I die.

Is there a chance you will be let free [of imprisonment] these days?

Something inside me says: maybe.











Sen (You)

You are my slavery and freedom,

my burning flesh – as it were a naked summer night,

you are my home.

You, green ripples in her hazel eyes,

you, big, beautiful and victorious

and my longing, the more unattainable whenever neared…

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

As always, I wish you all a wonderful Sunday and an equally wonderful week! I very much look forward to your visit next time.

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Nazım Hikmet Ran (1902-1963)

“There is no male or female of the heart, either a brave one or one that is not…”

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Nazım Hikmet Ran (1902-1963)

I don’t regret what I have lived,
My anger is possibly because of what I haven’t been able to…

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