About My Poetry
I have no silver-saddled horse to ride,
no inheritance to live on,
neither riches nor real estate —
a pot of honey is all I own.
A pot of honey
red as fire!
Mu honey is my everything.
my riches and my real estate
— my honey pot, I mean —
from pests of every species.
Brother, just wait. . .
As long as I've got
honey in my pot,
bees will come to it
from Timbuktu. . .
A tree grows inside me —
I brought it as a seedling from the sun.
Its leaves quiver like fish, like flames,
and its fruits sing like birds.
Spacemen have already landed
on the star inside me.
They speak the language I heard in my dream:
no bossing, boasting, or whining.
A white road runs through me,
open to ants carrying grains of wheat
and trucks of merrymakers screaming past
but closed to all hearses.
Inside me, time stands still
like the sweetest red rose.
That it's Friday, tomorrow's Saturday,
or the end's in sight — I couldn't care less.
15 January 1960
I'm Getting Used To Growing Old
I'm getting used to growing old,
the hardest art in the world —
knocking on doors for the last time,
The hours run and run and run . . .
I want to understand at the cost of losing faith.
I tried to tell you something, and I couldn't.
The world tastes like an early morning cigarette:
death has sent me its loneliness first.
I envy those who don't even know they're growing old,
they're so buried in their work.
12 January 1963
I was born in 1902
I never once went back to my birthplace
I don't like to turn back
at three I served as a pasha's grandson in Aleppo
at nineteen as a student at Moscow Communist University
at forty-nine I was back in Moscow as the Tcheka Party's guest
and I've been a poet since I was fourteen
some people know all about plants some about fish
I know separation
some people know the names of the stars by heart
I recite absences
I've slept in prisons and in grand hotels
I've known hunger even a hunger strike and there's almost no food
I haven't tasted
at thirty they wanted to hang me
at forty-eight to give me the Peace Prize
which they did
at thirty-six I covered four square meters of concrete in half a year
at fifty-nine I flew from Prague to Havana in eighteen hours
I never saw Lenin I stood watch at his coffin in '24
in '61 the tomb I visit is his books
they tried to tear me away from my party
it didn't work
nor was I crushed under falling idols
in '51 I sailed with a young friend into the teeth of death
in '52 spent four months flat on my back with abroken heart
waiting to die
I was jealous of the women I loved
I didn't envy Charlie Chaplin one bit
I deceived my women
I never talked behind my friends' backs
I drank but not every day
I earned my bread money honestly what happiness
out of embarrassment for others I lied
I lied so as not to hurt someone else
but I also lied for no reason at all
I've ridden in trains planes and cars
most people don't get the chance
I went to the opera
most people haven't even heard of the opera
and since '21 I haven't gone to the places most people visit
mosques churches temples synagogues sorcerers
but I've had my coffee grounds read
my writings are published in thirty or forty languages
in my Turkey in my Turkish they're banned
cancer hasn't caught up with me yet
and nothing says it will
I'll never be prime minsiter or anything like that
and I wouldn't want such a life
nor did I go to war
or burrow in bomb shelters in the bottom of the night
and I never had to take to the road under diving planes
but I fell in love at almost sixty
in short comrades
even if today in Berlin I'm croaking of grief
I can say I've lived like a human bing
and who knows
how much longer I'll live
what else will happen to me
East Berlin 11 September 1961
Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963)
Poems of Nazim Hikmet
translated from the Turkish by
Randy Blasing & Mutlu Konuk
Hikmet, the greatest of modern Turkish poets, was a political prisoner in Turkey for eighteen years and spent the last thirteen years of his life in exile.