"Letters From A Man In Solitary" by Nazim Hikmet

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nekot
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"Letters From A Man In Solitary" by Nazim Hikmet

Post by nekot » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:03 pm

anthology
1640, from L. anthologia, from Gk. anthologia "flower-gathering," from anthos "a flower" (see anther) + logia "collection, collecting," from legein "gather" (see lecture). Modern sense (which emerged in Late Gk.) is metaphoric, "flowers" of verse, small poems by various writers gathered together.

An anthology is a collection of writings, usually revolving around a theme, by different authors or the same author. I found the etymology of anthology quite beautiful. Hmmm....thinking about it, Poetry Pages is like a garden. :grin:

During my tenure as poet laureate, I'd like to feature poems by people from different cultures, faiths, beliefs. How far I'll get is yet to be seen. :wink: I'll do my best to dig out the context in which the poems were written.

Scroll down to read "Letters From A Man In Solitary" by Nazim Hikmet. Enjoy!!

:hello:

Cheers,
~carol

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nekot
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Re: "Letters From A Man In Solitary" by Nazim Hikmet

Post by nekot » Sun Jan 13, 2008 10:04 pm

"Nazım Hikmet Ran (November 20, 1901 – June 3, 1963), commonly known as Nazım Hikmet (pronounced [ˈnazɯm ˈhikmɛt]), was a Turkish poet, playwright, novelist and memoirist who is acclaimed in Turkey as the first and foremost modern Turkish poet, is known around the world as one of the greatest international poets of the twentieth century. He earned international fame with his lyric power, through the "lyrical flow of his statements". He has been referred to as a "romantic communist" or a "romantic revolutionary". He was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. His poetry has been translated into more than fifty languages.

Hikmet's imprisonment in the 1940s became a cause célèbre among intellectuals worldwide; a 1949 committee that included Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, and Jean Paul Sartre campaigned for Hikmet's release. In 1950, Hikmet went on an eighteen-day hunger strike, despite a heart attack. He would later be released in a general amnesty.

In 1951 Nazım Hikmet was awarded the International Peace Prize by the World Peace Council."

Read more here: Wikipedia: Nazim Hikmet

More of Hikmet's poetry: PoemHunter: Nazim Hikmet


Letters From A Man In Solitary

1
I carved your name on my watchband
with my fingernail.
Where I am, you know,
I don't have a pearl-handled jackknife
(they won't give me anything sharp)
or a plane tree with its head in the clouds.
Trees may grow in the yard,
but I'm not allowed
to see the sky overhead...
How many others are in this place?
I don't know.
I'm alone far from them,
they're all together far from me.
To talk anyone besides myself
is forbidden.
So I talk to myself.
But I find my conversation so boring,
my dear wife, that I sing songs.
And what do you know,
that awful, always off-key voice of mine
touches me so
that my heart breaks.
And just like the barefoot orphan
lost in the snow
in those old sad stories, my heart
-- with moist blue eyes
and a little red runny rose --
wants to snuggle up in your arms.
It doesn't make me blush
that right now
I'm this weak,
this selfish,
this human simply.
No doubt my state can be explained
physiologically, psychologically, etc.
Or maybe it's
this barred window,
this earthen jug,
these four walls,
which for months have kept me from hearing
another human voice.

It's five o'clock, my dear.
Outside,
with its dryness,
eerie whispers,
mud roof,
and lame, skinny horse
standing motionless in infinity
-- I mean, it's enough to drive the man inside crazy with grief --
outside, with all its machinery and all its art,
a plains night comes down red on treeless space.

Again today, night will fall in no time.
A light will circle the lame, skinny horse.
And the treeless space, in this hopeless landscape
stretched out before me like the body of a hard man,
will suddenly be filled with stars.
We'll reach the inevitable end once more,
which is to say the stage is set
again today for an elaborate nostalgia.
Me,
the man inside,
once more I'll exhibit my customary talent,
and singing an old-fashioned lament
in the reedy voice of my childhood,
once more, by God, it will crush my unhappy heart
to hear you inside my head,
so far
away, as if I were watching you
in a smoky, broken mirror...

2
It's spring outside, my dear wife, spring.
Outside on the plain, suddenly the smell
of fresh earth, birds singing, etc.
It's spring, my dear wife,
the plain outside sparkles...
And inside the bed comes alive with bugs,
the water jug no longer freezes,
and in the morning sun floods the concrete...
The sun--
every day till noon now
it comes and goes
from me, flashing off
and on...
And as the day turns to afternoon, shadows climb the walls,
the glass of the barred window catches fire,
and it's night outside,
a cloudless spring night...
And inside this is spring's darkest hour.
In short, the demon called freedom,
with its glittering scales and fiery eyes,
possesses the man inside
especially in spring...
I know this from experience, my dear wife,
from experience...

3
Sunday today.
Today they took me out in the sun for the first time.
And I just stood there, struck for the first time in my life
by how far away the sky is,
how blue
and how wide.
Then I respectfully sat down on the earth.
I leaned back against the wall.
For a moment no trap to fall into,
no struggle, no freedom, no wife.
Only earth, sun, and me...
I am happy.


Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)
~eloquently scattered~
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