Tag Archives: Nazım Hikmet

Nazım Hikmet on my mind again . . .

Feeling drained of mental and physical energy while in possession of little to none creativity, one day after the end of yet another hit-by-a-whirlwind-semester I am resorting to my safe haven today: To the incomparable Nazım Hikmet and his poetry . . .

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Things I Didn’t Know I Loved

Nazım Hikmet, 1902 – 1963

it’s 1962 March 28th
I’m sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don’t like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn’t know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn’t worked the earth love it
I’ve never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love

and here I’ve loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can’t wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you’ll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me

I didn’t know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn’t know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
“the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high”
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
to a pine bough for luck

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera’s behind the wheel we’re driving from Moscow to the Crimea
Koktebele
formerly “Goktepé ili” in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn’t have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I’ve written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I’m going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather’s hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there’s a lantern in the servant’s hand
and I can’t contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadıköy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn’t know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I’m floored watching them from below
or whether I’m flying at their side

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don’t
be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn’t know I liked snow

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren’t about to paint it that way
I didn’t know I loved the sea
except the Sea of Azov
or how much

I didn’t know I loved clouds
whether I’m under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it

I didn’t know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries I didn’t know I loved
rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I’m half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn’t know I loved sparks
I didn’t know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return

19 April 1962
Moscow

Source: Academy of American Poets ~ “From Selected Poetry by Nazim Hikmet. Translation copyright © 1986 by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk. Reprinted by permission of Persea Books, Inc.”

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. . .

for-11-23-2016

[Photograph: My own, during a dreamy weekend stay at Finton’s Landing]

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“Sabır” ~ Patience

Nazıms sufferance

Patience
is such a rope
that you would think it will break;
however, it will get stronger and stronger.
You would think it will end;
but it will grow and grow…

Image and Text Source: Nazım Hikmet’ten Yaşama Dair Sözler
Own translation from the original Turkish (September 20, 2015)

This wordpress post was first published on the 25th of November in 20015. The Turkish to English translation underwent some changes.

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. . .

Eternalist Notions.7.13.2016.pg

2 Comments

July 13, 2016 · 7:00 am

Nazım uttered…love or lust, I replied

The commitment Nazım’s lover speaks of in the following lines is indeed vast, as is that lover’s determination to protect love for life…though these realizations are a reality only for the one in love. The concept of leaving, hence, never materializes in that heart.

Lust, on the other hand, is easy to leave behind…as easy as leaving the one who is merely lusted after.

Benim keIime hazinem çok geniştir, derdim. Senin bir keIimene yetemedim; git, ne demekti sevgiIim?” ~ Nazım Hikmet

“I used to claim that my word power was vast. It did, however, not suffice to your one word; what again was the meaning of ‘leave’, my love?” ~ My own translation from the Turkish original

portre

 

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“You will find poetry nowhere […]

unless you bring some of it with you.” ~ Joseph Joubert (1754-1824)

joseph-joubert-4

portre

[Image Credits: Google – Free ]

Heeding the suggested transportation of a precious cargo today, I bring along a poem that is one of my most favorites by Nazım Hikmet, a poet whose entire literary work I have been admiring since my teenage years. The translation to English is my attempt at a rather intimately-felt justice to this exilic author’s native tongue:

Seni düşünmek güzel şey, ümitli şey,
Dünyanın en güzel sesinden
En güzel şarkıyı dinlemek gibi birşey…
Fakat artık ümit yetmiyor bana,
Ben artık şarkı dinlemek değil,
Şarkı söylemek istiyorum.

Thinking of you is beautiful, it gives hope,

It is like listening to the most beautiful song

Through the most beautiful voice in the world…

Hope to me, however, does no longer suffice,

I don’t want to listen to songs anymore,

I want to sing one.

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…”On Living”, a poem by Nazım Hikmet as accompanied by Genco Erkal, Fazıl Say and Zühal Olcay…in my own English translation

 yaşamak şakaya gelmez,
büyük bir ciddiyetle yaşayacaksın
bir sincap gibi mesela,
yani, yaşamanın dışında ve ötesinde hiçbir şey beklemeden,
yani bütün işin gücün yaşamak olacak.

yaşamayı ciddiye alacaksın,
yani o derecede, öylesine ki,
mesela, kolların bağlı arkadan, sırtın duvarda,
yahut kocaman gözlüklerin,
beyaz gömleğinle bir laboratuvarda
insanlar için ölebileceksin,
hem de yüzünü bile görmediğin insanlar için,
hem de hiç kimse seni buna zorlamamışken,
hem de en güzel en gerçek şeyin
yaşamak olduğunu bildiğin halde.

yani, öylesine ciddiye alacaksın ki yaşamayı,
yetmişinde bile, mesela, zeytin dikeceksin,
hem de öyle çocuklara falan kalır diye değil,
ölmekten korktuğun halde ölüme inanmadığın için,
yaşamak yanı ağır bastığından.

diyelim ki, ağır ameliyatlık hastayız,
yani, beyaz masadan,
bir daha kalkmamak ihtimali de var.
duymamak mümkün değilse de biraz erken gitmenin kederini
biz yine de güleceğiz anlatılan bektaşi fıkrasına,
hava yağmurlu mu, diye bakacağız pencereden,
yahut da sabırsızlıkla bekleyeceğiz
en son ajans haberlerini.

diyelim ki, dövüşülmeye değer bir şeyler için,
diyelim ki, cephedeyiz.
daha orda ilk hücumda, daha o gün
yüzükoyun kapaklanıp ölmek de mümkün.
tuhaf bir hınçla bileceğiz bunu,
fakat yine de çıldırasıya merak edeceğiz
belki yıllarca sürecek olan savaşın sonunu.

diyelim ki hapisteyiz,
yaşımız da elliye yakın,
daha da on sekiz sene olsun açılmasına demir kapının.
yine de dışarıyla birlikte yaşayacağız,
insanları, hayvanları, kavgası ve rüzgarıyla
yani, duvarın ardındaki dışarıyla.

yani, nasıl ve nerede olursak olalım
hiç ölünmeyecekmiş gibi yaşanacak…

bu dünya soğuyacak,
yıldızların arasında bir yıldız,
hem de en ufacıklarından,
mavi kadifede bir yaldız zerresi yani,
yani bu koskocaman dünyamız.

bu dünya soğuyacak günün birinde,
hatta bir buz yığını
yahut ölü bir bulut gibi de değil,
boş bir ceviz gibi yuvarlanacak
zifiri karanlıkta uçsuz bucaksız.

şimdiden çekilecek acısı bunun,
duyulacak mahzunluğu şimdiden.
böylesine sevilecek bu dünya
“yaşadım” diyebilmen için…

~ Nazım Hikmet

On Living 

(own unrevised and unedited translation, 11.29.2014)

living shouldn’t be taken lightly,

you must take it very seriously

like a squirrel, for instance,

in other words, without expecting anything else beyond living,

in other words, to live as if it were your job to do so.

you should take living seriously,

 to such extentfor example,

to be able to die for people,

with your arms tied, your back against the wall,

or in a laboratory, with your huge eye glasses in your white coat,

to die for people whose faces you haven’t seen even once,

and even then when no one has forced you to do so,

while knowing that living is the most beautiful the most real thing.

in other words, you should take living so seriously

that you will plant, for example, an olive at the age of seventy,

and not at all for thinking to leave it for the children or the like,

but rather for not believing in death although you fear dying,

because living by far outweighs it.

let’s say, we are sick on the verge of a serious surgery,

in other words, it is possible not to be ever get up

off of the white table.

it will, of course, be impossible not to sorrow over leaving a little soon

we’ll still laugh at the Bektaşi joke told to us,

we’ll still check the weather from the window to see if it had rained,

or shall wait impatiently for the latest broadcasting news.

let’s imagine, we are at the front

for the sake of things worth fighting.

it is possible to die right there and then face down

at the onset of the first attack.

we’ll be aware of this potential with slight anger,

but shall maddeningly wonder the end of the war

one that may last for years.

 let’s say, we are in jail,

on top of it, our age has reached fifty,

and there await eighteen more years for the iron doors to open up.

we’ll still continue to live together with the outside,

along with that beyond the wall,

in other words, its people, its animals, its struggles and its wind.

in other words: no matter how and where we are

there must be living taking place as were there no dying…

this world will be cold,

one star among many others,

the tiniest, at that,

in other words, our whale of a world,

a sparkling particle on the blue velvet.

this world will turn cold someday,

not even like a stack of ice

nor like a dead cloud,

but rather like a sere walnut

it will roll in a vast darkness, on and on.

the pain of it will be lived in the now already,

the sadness will be felt in the present as well.

that’s how this world must be lived

in order to be able to say “I have lived”… 

 

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