cover image Poems of Nazim Hikmet

Poems of Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet / Author, Mutlu Konuk / Translator, Randy Blasing / Transla

A leading modern Turkish poet, Hikmet (1902-1963) once wrote from prison, ``In the twentieth century / grief lasts / at most a year.'' First jailed in 1924 at the age of 22 for working on a leftist magazine, he spent 18 years incarcerated. Hikmet was awarded the World Peace Prize in 1950, the same year as he gained his release from jail, only to be exiled from Turkey in 1951 for the last 13 years of his life. The poet evidently never lost his faith in social justice. His love of life apparently didn't weaken, and his poems resonate with its power: ``Shot through ten years of bondage like a bullet, / . . . my heart is still the same heart, my head still the same head.'' But to consider Hikmet a political poet only is to miss his gift, and a temperament infected with joy. In ``Occupation'' he writes, ``In the afternoon heat I pick olives, / the leaves the loveliest of greens: / I'm light from head to toe.'' The translations by Blasing and Mutlu Konak convey the power and originality of the work; there are no weak poems here. As Hikmet grew, he delivered a richness and humanity unparalleled in its freedom from bitterness in poems like ``Things I Didn't Know I Loved,'' ``After Getting Out of Prison'' and ``The Last Bus.'' (Apr.)