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Poems of Nazım Hikmet

4.54  ·  Rating details ·  1,604 ratings  ·  78 reviews
A centennial volume, with previously unavailable poems, by Turkey's greatest poet.  Published in celebration of the poet's one hundredth birthday, this exciting edition of the poems of Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963) collects work from his four previous selected volumes and adds more than twenty poems never before available in English. The Blasing/Konuk translations, acclaimed fo ...more
Paperback, Revised and Expanded Edition, 288 pages
Published May 17th 2002 by Persea (first published April 1st 1973)
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Jun 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Poems of Nazım Hikmet, Nâzım Hikmet Ran, Randy Blasing (Translator), Mutlu Konuk Blasing (Translator), Carolyn Forché (Foreword)

Things I Didn't Know I Loved
by Nazim Hikmet
translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing

It's 1962 March 28th
I'm sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don't like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird

I didn't know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn't worked the earth lo
PGR Nair
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: All Poetry lovers
Recommended to PGR by: Chance encounter in Strand bookstall, Mumbai
Shelves: favourites

Literature is replete with stories of great artists who were hunted and persecuted during their lifetime for their ideologies and convictions. Russian poets Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam and the Spanish poets Federico Garcia Lorca and Miguel Hernandez are some familiar names that immediately come to my mind. But I doubt whether any poet has suffered so much as Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963), the first modern Turkish poet and one of the most important a
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space ...
You must grieve for this right now
--you have to feel this sorrow now--
for the world must be loved this much
if you're going to say "I lived" ...

Nâzım Hikmet may be my favorite poet, or at least one of my favorites for sure.
He uses similes so simple, that sometimes his poems seem effortless. No one can deny that beauty lies in simplicity. His poems are
Hasan Makhzoum
Apr 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
After reading his poems randomly since 1999, in English and Arabic, I bought this book last year at Istanbul Modern's library (highly recommended for lovers of Modern Art) that celebrates his 100th birthday.
When I read Lorca’s poems for the first time, I have wondered that if he wasn't brutally killed so young by Franko's militia, would've he had the same agitated life and what would his later poems look like if he was persecuted in the prison like Nazim Hikmet was.

My first impression when rea
Feb 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
My personal favorite will probably always be "On Living"
(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 life...)
Peycho Kanev
Jun 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Nazim Hikmet is one of those big poets born in violent times. He is the perfect combination of poetic quality, incorruptible conscience and duty to society. His work is inseparable from the events of the troubled times, affecting the social processes and the revolutionary transformations.
Nazim Hikmet lives in constant creative fever. The misfortune, the bad luck, the years spent in prison are unable to break his spirit. In the gloomy light in the cell, he turns into poetry even the last letters
Jul 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Nazim Hikmet has changed the way I read and the way I look at life in ways I would not have thought possible for a Turkish poet. His poems are effortless, almost negating contrivance, to the point (sometimes) of the colloquial or nearly mundane, but the clarity of his voice, speaking with eyes open, gives me shivers.
Apr 23, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: poetry
16 April

Today we spoke
in the language of eyes.
He works as a weaver days
and studies nights.
Now it's a long time since the night
came on like a pack of black-shirted Fascists.
The cry of a man out of work
who jumped into the Seine
rose from the dark water.
And ah! you on whose fist-size head
mountain-like winds descend,
at this very minute you're probably busy
building towers of thick, leather-bound books
to get answers to the questions you asked of the stars.

And when yo
Dec 31, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Hikmet is contagious. He is so full of life and hope and possibility. He never bowed. And although it's obvious he felt great pain and fell into bouts of depression, his poetry is all about more life. As I read him, I feel hopeful—not outrageously so, but hopeful that there will come a day when things will get better, and that life, as life, is worth living, despite everything horrible in our world. And that is very unlike me. I'm more suited to Paul Celan or Ingeborg Bachmann's depression, or a ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
(In loving memory of Işıl, whose journey was cut short before she could reach her city)

Because of you

Because of you, each day is a melon slice
smelling sweetly of earth.
Because of you, all fruits reach out to me
as if I were the sun.
Thanks to you, I live on the honey of hope.
You are the reason my heart beats.
Because of you, even my loneliest nights
smile like an Anatolian kilim on your wall.
Should my journey end before I reach my city,
I’ve rested in a rose garden thanks to you.
Because of you I don’
Nov 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Randy Blasing is my poetry professor. I am incredibly fortunate to study under him and to have been introduced to the works of Hikmet. I didn't know I liked poetry until I read Hikmet and Blasing. Completely spellbinding. My favorite poems are, "Vera" and "Loving You." ...more
Dec 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
"Part of you may live alone inside,
like a stone at the bottom of a well.
But the other part
must be so caught up
in the flurry of the world
that you shiver there inside
when outside, at forty days’ distance, a leaf moves.
To wait for letters inside,
to sing sad songs,
or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling
is sweet but dangerous.
Look at your face from shave to shave,
forget your age,
watch out for lice
and for spring nights,
and always remember
to eat every last piece of bread--
also, don’t
Jan 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, translation
it's this way

i stand in the advancing light,
my hands hungry, the world beautiful.

my eyes can't get enough of the trees-
they're so hopeful, so green.

a sunny road runs through the mulberries,
i'm at the window of the prison infirmary.

i can't smell the medicines-
carnations must be blooming nearby.

it's this way:
being captured is beside the point,
the point is not to surrender.


they'll go to the moon
and beyond,
to places even telescopes can't see.
but when will no one go hungry
on earth
or fear ot
Hazar Bayindir
Dec 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
For the people who has concerns about other people. He never gave up, on his poems and what he believed.

On Living


Let's say you're seriously ill, need surgery--
which is to say we might not get
from the white table.
Even though it's impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we'll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we'll look out the window to see it's raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast ...
Let's say we're at the front--
for something worth fighting for, say.
نزار شهاب الدين
Feb 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Magnificently exquisite. Hikmat has this casual style of speaking that has all the depth in the world. He is so humane that he is certain to touch you, regardless of whether you agree with his ideas and values or not.

This translation is very well written in itself (I don't know Turkish do I can't judge the quality of the translation). I know this because I felt the words and enjoyed the style and diction to the most.

Highly recommend.
Ebru Yavuz
Reading poems in a forein language, is very hard thing. Because poets are write poems with their souls. And if you know anything about this country and culture, maybe you dont understand what poet says. But if you read nazım, neruda or lorca, you feel their words in your heart. Nazım was a amazing person and he lived exteremly hard life, away from his lovely contry because of politicians. He died in Moscow.
Tania Ahmadi
Apr 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Come she said
Stay she said
Smile she said
Die she said

I came
I stayed
I smiled
I died

Nazim Hikmet
Mar 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
A collection of unconventional poems which flout traditional literary conventions with free verse and colloquial diction. The unpunctured, breathless and impatient pace of the poems were somehow made relatable to my current feelings of disorientation and recent global events feeling surreal. Most of Hikmet’s poems were written during his years in prion and exile, but the level of complexity in some of the poems is impressive. I’ve enjoyed getting lost in his exilic poems, particularly in the ins ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Hikmet's poems captures three main themes - romanticism, patriotism and anguish, written during his days in prison, hospital and exile. He wrote about the present in hopes that it will help him forget yesterday.

I felt that he was a man who knew how to love a woman but it was his burden to live a life separated from her. The poems (from 1940 till 1955) are addressed to Pirayé, who was his third wife. (There is no mention of the first two.) But the poems are full of love, loss and longing. [The b
Nov 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Recommended to Bianka by: Ali
I really don't like most poetry. I like politic subject matter even less usually. This book was recommended by a Kurdish friend of mine due to author's unique ability to speak to love, pain, freedom, and death in such a universal way. Obviously the translation from Hikmet's native tongue can't really convey what I suspect is a greater beauty when read in context and a cadence my western mind lacks but this work makes me seek to learn more.

I plan to make songs from his words.
Oct 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wondeful poems. Hikmet was a political prisoner for many years. My version of the collection is chronological and so, you can truly see the author becoming wiser and wiser with each year he had to spend in captivity. The poems, especially the ones closer to the end, will make you cry. Made me fall in love with poetry all over again.
Christopher Mitchell
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
A friend lent this to me and for that I'll be forever grateful. I've yet to find a Turkish poet I prefer, in truth, and I'm confident that Hikmet will be remembered forever within Turkey and around the world. ...more
Jun 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Probably not this edition, but this stuff is absolutely devastating. I had to give away my copy as to avert a fullon existential funk.
Patrick T. Randolph
What an incredible Turkish writer. Please read this participant in life's sea of suffering and awe! ...more
Jul 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, poetry, turkish
reread in feb 2018: it still hits hard :)

i haven't felt this much, while reading a book in a very long time.
David Ashley
Mar 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this chronological collection of poems by Nazim Hikmet although I feel an understanding of Turkish and Russian history would go a long way in helping me enjoy it even more.

I happened upon Hikmet through his poem 'I come and stand at every door' which was turned into lyrics for an amazing Byrds track (and later an even better This Mortal Coil rendition). I always found the piece very poignant and direct and was hoping for more of the same. What I got was something similarly direct but n
Sep 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Poetry is tough - especially an anthology like this that covers the lifetime of the author.

There are some in here that are amazing, they make you cry, they make you think.

There are others that were clearly a necessary part of the author’s journey, but by no means a poem that sticks in your heart or mind.

His love affairs over three decades, many nations, and many lives are caught as poems of both triumph and tragedy, and are beautiful.

But what truly made this collection special for me was the
Keerthana Jayakumar
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Beautiful poetry from a Turkish “romantic communist” who spent most of his life in prison.
Among my favourites was the romance between Gioconda and Siyayu (a Chinese communist and the Mona Lisa). This was written in memory of his friend who was headhunted in Shanghai for his leftist views. His disappearance coincided with the night the Mona Lisa was stolen from the louvre.
Jay Callahan
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great very human, lyrical, evocative, direct poetry from a good man.

Just occasionally, one perceives (much much less than in Neruda) slight contortions of perception caused by psychologically necessary blindness to the violence of the regime under which he had taken hopeful refuge (Stalinist USSR). (I'm thinking really only of a few places.)
April Helene
Dec 27, 2020 rated it it was ok
(I read -Some Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time In Prison- only.) I would like to start by saying: I am not a fan of poetry and I was assigned to read this. This poem was interesting but it didn't have any deep meaning for me. Everything felt very surface level to me and there weren't any moments to stop and think. Overall, not my favorite of the year. ...more
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Nazim Hikmet was born on January 15, 1902 in Salonika, Ottoman Empire (now Thessaloníki, Greece), where his father served in the Foreign Service. He was exposed to poetry at an early age through his artist mother and poet grandfather, and had his first poems published when he was seventeen.

Raised in Istanbul, Hikmet left Allied-occupied Turkey after the First World War and ended up in Moscow, wher

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“The most beautiful sea
hasn't been crossed yet.
The most beautiful child
hasn't grown up yet.
Our most beautiful days
we haven't seen yet.
And the most beautiful words I wanted to tell you
I haven't said yet...”
“It's this way:
being captured is beside the point
the point is not to surrender.

- It's This Way
More quotes…