16+ Best Nazim Hikmet Poems Everyone Should Read

Nâzım Hikmet Ran, commonly known as Nâzım Hikmet was a Turkish poet, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, director and memoirist. He was acclaimed for the “lyrical flow of his statements”.

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Famous Nazim Hikmet Poems

Hymn To Life

The hair falling on your forehead
suddenly lifted.
Suddenly something stirred on the ground.
The trees are whispering
in the dark.
Your bare arms will be cold.

Far off
where we can’t see,
the moon must be rising.
It hasn’t reached us yet,
slipping through the leaves
to light up your shoulder.
But I know
a wind comes up with the moon.
The trees are whispering.
Your bare arms will be cold.

From above,
from the branches lost in the dark,
something dropped at your feet.
You moved closer to me.
Under my hand your bare flesh is like the fuzzy skin of a fruit.
Neither a song of the heart nor “common sense”–
before the trees, birds, and insects,
my hand on my wife’s flesh
is thinking.
Tonight my hand
can’t read or write.
Neither loving nor unloving…
It’s the tongue of a leopard at a spring,
a grape leaf,
a wolf’s paw.
To move, breathe, eat, drink.
My hand is like a seed
splitting open underground.
Neither a song of the heart nor “common sense,”
neither loving nor unloving.
My hand thinking on my wife’s flesh
is the hand of the first man.
Like a root that finds water underground,
it says to me:
“To eat, drink, cold, hot, struggle, smell, color–
not to live in order to die
but to die to live…”

And now
as red female hair blows across my face,
as something stirs on the ground,
as the trees whisper in the dark,
and as the moon rises far off
where we can’t see,
my hand on my wife’s flesh
before the trees, birds, and insects,
I want the right of life,
of the leopard at the spring, of the seed splitting open–
I want the right of the first man.

Letter To My Wife

11-11-1933
Bursa Prison
My one and only!
Your last letter says:
“My head is throbbing,
my heart is stunned!”
You say:
“If they hang you,
if I lose you,
I’ll die!”
You’ll live, my dear–
my memory will vanish like black smoke in the wind.
Of course you’ll live, red-haired lady of my heart:
in the twentieth century
grief lasts
at most a year.

Death–
a body swinging from a rope.
My heart
can’t accept such a death.
But
you can bet
if some poor gypsy’s hairy black
spidery hand
slips a noose
around my neck,
they’ll look in vain for fear
in Nazim’s
blue eyes!
In the twilight of my last morning
I
will see my friends and you,
and I’ll go
to my grave
regretting nothing but an unfinished song…
My wife!
Good-hearted,
golden,
eyes sweeter than honey–my bee!
Why did I write you
they want to hang me?
The trial has hardly begun,
and they don’t just pluck a man’s head
like a turnip.
Look, forget all this.
If you have any money,
buy me some flannel underwear:
my sciatica is acting up again.
And don’t forget,
a prisoner’s wife
must always think good thoughts.

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

Our Eyes

Our eyes
are limpid
drops of water.
In each drop exists
a tiny sign
of our genius
which has given life to cold iron.
Our eyes
are limpid
drops of water
merged absolutely in the Ocean
that you could hardly recognize
the drop in a block of ice
in a boiling pan.
The masterpiece of these eyes
the fulfillment of their genius
the living iron.
In these eyes
filled with limpid
pure tears
had failed to emerge
from the infinite Ocean
if the strength
had dispersed,
we could never have mated
the dynamo with the turbine,
never have moved
those steel mountains in water
easily
as if made of hollow wood.
The masterpiece of these eyes
the fulfillment of their genius
of our unified labour
the living iron.

Translated by Taner Baybars

A Spring Piece Left In The Middle

Taut, thick fingers punch
the teeth of my typewriter.
Three words are down on paper
in capitals:
SPRING
SPRING
SPRING…
And me — poet, proofreader,
the man who’s forced to read
two thousand bad lines
every day
for two liras–
why,
since spring
has come, am I
still sitting here
like a ragged
black chair?
My head puts on its cap by itself,
I fly out of the printer’s,
I’m on the street.
The lead dirt of the composing room
on my face,
seventy-five cents in my pocket.
SPRING IN THE AIR…

In the barbershops
they’re powdering
the sallow cheeks
of the pariah of Publishers Row.
And in the store windows
three-color bookcovers
flash like sunstruck mirrors.
But me,
I don’t have even a book of ABC’s
that lives on this street
and carries my name on its door!
But what the hell…
I don’t look back,
the lead dirt of the composing room
on my face,
seventy-five cents in my pocket,
SPRING IN THE AIR…

*

The piece got left in the middle.
It rained and swamped the lines.
But oh! what I would have written…
The starving writer sitting on his three-thousand-page
three-volume manuscript
wouldn’t stare at the window of the kebab joint
but with his shining eyes would take
the Armenian bookseller’s dark plump daughter by storm…
The sea would start smelling sweet.
Spring would rear up
like a sweating red mare
and, leaping onto its bare back,
I’d ride it
into the water.
Then
my typewriter would follow me
every step of the way.
I’d say:
“Oh, don’t do it!
Leave me alone for an hour…”
then
my head-my hair failing out–
would shout into the distance:
“I AM IN LOVE…”

*

I’m twenty-seven,
she’s seventeen.
“Blind Cupid,
lame Cupid,
both blind and lame Cupid
said, Love this girl,”
I was going to write;
I couldn’t say it
but still can!
But if
it rained,
if the lines I wrote got swamped,
if I have twenty-five cents left in my pocket,
what the hell…
Hey, spring is here spring is here spring
spring is here!
My blood is budding inside me!

20 and 21 April 1929

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

You

You are my enslavement and my freedom
You are my flesh burning like a raw summer night
You are my country
You are the green silks in hazel eyes
You are big, beautiful and triumphant
And you are my sorrow that isn’t felt
the more I feel it.

Last Will And Testament

Comrades, if I don’t live to see the day
— I mean,if I die before freedom comes —
take me away
and bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia.

The worker Osman whom Hassan Bey ordered shot
can lie on one side of me, and on the other side
the martyr Aysha, who gave birth in the rye
and died inside of forty days.

Tractors and songs can pass below the cemetery —
in the dawn light, new people, the smell of burnt gasoline,
fields held in common, water in canals,
no drought or fear of the police.

Of course, we won’t hear those songs:
the dead lie stretched out underground
and rot like black branches,
deaf, dumb, and blind under the earth.

But, I sang those songs
before they were written,
I smelled the burnt gasoline
before the blueprints for the tractors were drawn.

As for my neighbors,
the worker Osman and the martyr Aysha,
they felt the great longing while alive,
maybe without even knowing it.

Comrades, if I die before that day, I mean
— and it’s looking more and more likely —
bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia,
and if there’s one handy,
a plane tree could stand at my head,
I wouldn’t need a stone or anything.

Moscow, Barviha Hospital

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

I Love You

I love you
like dipping bread into salt and eating
Like waking up at night with high fever
and drinking water, with the tap in my mouth
Like unwrapping the heavy box from the postman
with no clue what it is
fluttering, happy, doubtful
I love you
like flying over the sea in a plane for the first time
Like something moves inside me
when it gets dark softly in Istanbul
I love you
Like thanking God that we live.

Hiroshima Child

I come and stand at every door
But none can hear my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead for I am dead

I’m only seven though I died
In Hiroshima long ago
I’m seven now as I was then
When children die they do not grow

My hair was scorched by swirling flame
My eyes grew dim my eyes grew blind
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And that was scattered by the wind

I need no fruit I need no rice
I need no sweets nor even bread
I ask for nothing for myself
For I am dead for I am dead

All that I need is that for peace
You fight today you fight today
So that the children of this world
Can live and grow and laugh and play

Today Is Sunday

Today is Sunday.
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.

Translated by Talat Sait Halman

I Want To Die Before You

I
want to die before you.
Do you think that who passes later
will find who’s gone before?
I don’t think so.
You’d better have me burned,
and put me on the stove in your room
in a jar.
The jar shall be made of glass,
transparent, white glass
so that you can see me inside…
You see my sacrifice:
I renounced from being part of the earth,
I renounced from being a flower
to be able to stay with you.
And I am becoming dust,
to live with you.
Later, when you also die,
you’ll come to my jar.
And we’ll live there together
your ash in my ash,
until a careless bride
or an unfaithful grandson
throws us out of there…
But we
until that time
will mix
with each other
so much that
even in the garbage we are thrown into
our grains will fall side by side.
We will dive into the soil together.
And one day, if a wild flower
feeds from this piece of soil and blossoms
above its body, definitely
there will be two flowers:
one is you
one is me.
I
don’t think of death yet.
I will give birth to a child.
Life is flooding from me.
My blood is boiling.
I will live, but long, very long,
but with you.
Death doesn’t scare me either.
But I find our way of funeral
rather unlikable.
Until I die,
I think this will get better.
Is there a hope you’ll get out of prison these days?
A voice in me says:
maybe.

After Release From Prison

Awake.
Where are you?
At home.
Still unaccustomed-
awake or sleeping-
to being in your own home.
This is just one more of the stupefactions
of spending thirteen years in a prison.
Who’s lying at your side?
Not loneliness, but your wife,
in the peaceful sleep of an angel.
Pregnancy looks good on a woman.
What time is it?
Eight.
That means you’re safe until evening.
Because it’s the practice of police
Never to raid homes in broad daylight.

Thinking Of You

Thinking of you is pretty, hopeful,
It is like listening to the most beautiful song
From the most beautiful voice on earth…
But hope is not enough for me any more,
I don’t want to listen to songs any more,
I want to sing.

The Walnut Tree

my head foaming clouds, sea inside me and out
I am a walnut tree in Gulhane Park
an old walnut, knot by knot, shred by shred
Neither you are aware of this, nor the police

I am a walnut tree in Gulhane Park
My leaves are nimble, nimble like fish in water
My leaves are sheer, sheer like a silk handkerchief
pick, wipe, my rose, the tear from your eyes
My leaves are my hands, I have one hundred thousand
I touch you with one hundred thousand hands, I touch Istanbul
My leaves are my eyes, I look in amazement
I watch you with one hundred thousand eyes, I watch Istanbul
Like one hundred thousand hearts, beat, beat my leaves

I am a walnut tree in Gulhane Park
neither you are aware of this, nor the police

The Faces Of Our Women

Mary didn’t give birth to God.
Mary isn’t the mother of God.
Mary is one mother among many mothers.
Mary gave birth to a son,
a son among many sons.
That’s why Mary is so beautiful in all the pictures of her.
That’s why Mary’s son is so close to us, like our own sons.
The faces of our women are the book of our pains.
Our pains, our faults and the blood we shed
carve scars on the faces of our women like plows.
And our joys are reflected in the eyes of women
like the dawns glowing on the lakes.
Our imaginations are on the faces of women we love.
Whether we see them or not, they are before us,
closest to our realities and furthest.

The Miniature Woman

The Blue-Eyed Giant, the Miniature Woman
and the Honeysuckle

He was a blue-eyed giant,
He loved a miniature woman.
The woman’s dream was of a miniature house
with a garden where honeysuckle grows
in a riot of colours
that sort of house.

The giant loved like a giant,
and his hands were used to such big things
that the giant could not
make the building,
could not knock on the door
of the garden where the honeysuckle grows
in a riot of colours
at that house.

He was a blue-eyed giant,
he loved a miniature woman,
a mini miniature woman.
The woman was hungry for comfort
and tired of the giant’s long strides.
And bye bye off she went to the embraces of a rich dwarf with a garden where the honeysuckle grows
in a riot of colours
that sort of house.

Now the blue-eyed giant realizes,
a giant isn’t even a graveyard for love:
in the garden where the honeysuckle grows
in a riot of colours
that sort of house…

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