Home People&Culture The Best 9 Works of "Blue-Eyed Giant" of Turkish Literature: Nazım Hikmet...

The Best 9 Works of “Blue-Eyed Giant” of Turkish Literature: Nazım Hikmet Ran

“To live! Like a tree alone and free
Like a forest in brotherhood”

Today, on the 3rd of June, we commemorate Nazım Hikmet (15 January 1902 – 3 June 1963) with all respect in the 56th anniversary of his death. Nazım Hikmet Ran (commonly known as Nazım Hikmet) was a Turkish poet. However, in addition to his poetries, he was very productive in many other fields of literature, too, -such as novelist, playwright, director, screenwriter and memoirist. As one of the most influential characters and a milestone of Turkish literature, Nazım Hikmet became the name of a free verse of Turkish poetry. He was commonly described as “romantic communist”, and “romantic revolutionary” by considering his political ideas. And therefore, he was repeatedly accused guilty and arrested for his political acts and writings. Moreover, he spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. Nazım Hikmet’s works have been translated into more than 40 languages from all over the world.

Little Nazım...
Little Nazım…

Nazım Hikmet Ran was born in Salonica, Ottoman Empire (today Thessaloniki, Greece) on 15 January 1902. In 1905, his father was obliged to resign from his position at the foreign service and it meant an adventure for the family. For a period, they lived in Aleppo for a new beginning, but it wasn’t a good one as they planned. After returning to Istanbul, Nazım’s father started a new business, but it didn’t go well either and he went bankrupt. Meanwhile, from the very beginning of his early ages, Nazım Hikmet had already begun to write poems.

Nazım Hikmet Ran completed his primary and junior high school education in Istanbul. And then continued his education at Ottoman Naval School and graduated. No matter how successful he was there, he was exempted from naval service in 1920 just because of his serious illness.

Nazım Hikmet Ran and his love Vera Tulyakova...
Nazım Hikmet Ran and his love Vera Tulyakova…

Soon after, he wrote a lampoon about the British and became involved with his friends in gun smuggling to Mustafa Kemal. During the War of Turkey’s Independence, Hikmet went to Anatolia in order to join Atatürk and then worked as a teacher at a school in Bolu. He studied sociology and economics at the University of Moscow between 1921 and 1928 and joined in the 1920s the Turkish Communist Party. In Turkey, he was sentenced in prison in absentia. While in the Soviet Union, Hikmet had a short-lived marriage to Nüzhet Nazim, a student, and then he lived together with Ludmilla Yurchenko in a second-floor flat in Tverskaya Boulevard. Ludmilla was a dentist, Hikmet referred to her as Dr Lena.

After he returned to Turkey, was sentenced to prison. Sadly, he spent more than 10 years in several prisons in several cities in Turkey. Being constantly under the surveillance of the police and in fear of an attempt on his life, Hikmet eventually escaped from Turkey in a small boat in 1950. His wife and his son, Memet, were not allowed to travel abroad.

He spent his last 13 years in abroad by longing for his country. Ironically, his books were not allowed to publish in his own country in his own language, while has been translated into more than 40 languages. As if he knew what is going to happen in the future, he wrote that in Tahir and Zühre;

“… Just because you love the apples, does an apple have to love you back?”

Preparing the potential list of a “Nazım’s Bests” is very hard. Because there will always be a better one! So any list prepared will be insufficient. So please leave your best as a comment below…

1- Things I Didn’t Know I Loved (19 April 1962)

A Master Poet
A Master Poet

I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors 
but you aren't about to paint it that way
I didn't know I loved the sea
                             except the Sea of Azov
or how much

Click here to read the full poem:

2- On Living

Shared with Pablo Neruda the Soviet Union's International Peace Prize
Shared with Pablo Neruda the Soviet Union’s International Peace Prize

 

Living is no laughing matter:
	you must live with great seriousness
		like a squirrel, for example—
   I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
		I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
	you must take it seriously,
	so much so and to such a degree
   that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
                                            your back to the wall,


>Click here to read the full poem<

3- Letters From A Man in Solitary 

Fascinating imagination by free-flowing lines
Fascinating imagination by free-flowing lines

...

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...

>Click here to read the full poem<

4- The Stranger Creature on Earth

in Moscow he met such Russian theater geniuses as Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Vachtangov and Tairov
in Moscow, he met such Russian theatre geniuses as Stanislavsky, Meyerhold, Vachtangov and Tairov

 

You're like a scorpion, my brother,
you live in cowardly darkness
like a scorpion.
You're like a sparrow, my brother,
always in a sparrow's flutter.
You're like a clam, my brother,
closed like a clam, content,
And you're frightening, my brother,
like the mouth of an extinct volcano.

>Click here to read the full poem<

5- Letter to My Wife

A poet full-filled with love
A poet full-filled with love

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.

>Click here to read the full poem<

6- Optimistic Man

 

An a life of a man with life-long struggle
And the life of a man with life-long struggle

as a child he never plucked the wings off flies
he didn't tie tin cans to cats' tails
or lock beetles in matchboxes
or stomp anthills
he grew up
and all those things were done to him
I was at his bedside when he died
he said read me a poem
about the sun and the sea
about nuclear reactors and satellites
about the greatness of humanity

7- A Sad State of Freedom

12 years of Conviction
12 years of Conviction

The moment you're born 
they plant around you 
mills that grind lies 
lies to last you a lifetime. 
You keep thinking in your great freedom 
a finger on your temple 
free to have a free conscience.

>Click here to read the full poem<

8- Blue-Eyed Giant

Blue-Eyed Giant loved a teny-weny woman
Blue-Eyed Giant loved a teny-weny woman…


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...

Nazım Hikmet Ran archive at marxists.org

9- Hymn To Life 

"Can you make me the picture of Hapiness Abidin?"
“Can you make me the picture of Happiness Abidin?”

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.

>Click here to read the full poem<

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