Wednesday, June 10, 2020


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.

I guard

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. . .

To Vera

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,

endless separation.

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
Persea Books

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.