Nâzım Hikmet

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You are free to slave for others - you are free to make the rich richer

Nâzım Hikmet (20 November 19013 June 1963) was a Turkish poet and dramatist, who is widely regarded as the best-known Turkish poet in the West; his works have been translated into several languages.


  • Don’t live in the world as if you were renting
    Or here only for the summer,
    But act as if it were your father’s house.
    Believe in seeds, earth, the sea
    But people above all.
    Grieve for the withering branch,
    The dying star,
    And the hurt animal.
    But feel for people above all.
    Rejoice in all the earth’s blessings –
    Darkness and light,
    The four seasons,
    But people above all.
  • It's this way:
    being captured is beside the point,
    the point is not to surrender.
    • From It's This Way
  • You waste the attention of your eyes,
    the glittering labour of your hands,
    and knead the dough enough for dozens of loaves
    of which you'll taste not a morsel;
    you are free to slave for others—
    you are free to make the rich richer.
    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.
    Your head bent as if half-cut from the nape,
    your arms long, hanging,
    your saunter about in your great freedom:
    you're free
    with the freedom of being unemployed.
    You love your country
    as the nearest, most precious thing to you.
    But one day, for example,
    they may endorse it over to America,
    and you, too, with your great freedom—
    you have the freedom to become an air-base.
    You may proclaim that one must live
    not as a tool, a number or a link
    but as a human being—
    then at once they handcuff your wrists.
    You are free to be arrested, imprisoned
    and even hanged.
    There's neither an iron, wooden
    nor a tulle curtain
    in your life;
    there's no need to choose freedom:
    you are free.
    But this kind of freedom
    is a sad affair under the stars.
    • From A Sad State Of Freedom
  • I'm twenty-seven,
    she's seventeen.
    "Blind Cupid,
    lame Cupid,
    both blind and lame Cupid
    said, Love this girl,"
    • From A Spring Piece Left In The Middle
  • I've never regretted I was born too soon.
    I'm proud to be
    a child of the twentieth century.
    I'm satisfied
    to join its ranks
    on our side
    and fight for a new world...
    • From On the Twentieth Century (12 November 1941)
  • My country or the stars
    Or my youth, what's farthest?
    • From In the Snowy Night Woods (10 March 1956)
  • The strangest of our powers
    Is the courage to live
    Knowing that we will die,
    Knowing nothing more true.
    • From In the Snowy Night Woods (10 March 1956)
  • Loneliness feels like prison.
    • From New Year's Eve (23 March 1956)
  • The world's not run by governments or money
    but people rule
    a hundred years from now
    but it will be for sure.
    • From Optimism (12 September 1957)
  • Separation isn't time or distance
    it's the bridge between us
    finer than silk thread sharper than swords
    • From Separation (6 June 1960)
  • 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't let death enter,
    clothed in the softest garments,
    and knocking on my door with songs
    calling me to the greatest place.
    • From Because of You (29 August 1960)
  • All I wrote about us is lies
    All I wrote about us is the truth
    • From About Us (30 September 1960)
  • Welcome baby,
    It's your turn to live,
    They lie in wait for you, chicken pox, whooping cough, smallpox,
    Malaria, TB, heart disease, cancer, and so on.
    Unemployment, hunger, and so on.
    Train wrecks, bus accidents, plane crashes, work accidents,
    Earthquakes, floods, droughts, and so on.
    Heartbreak, alcoholism, and so on.
    Nightsticks, prison doors, and so on.
    They lie in wait for you, the atom bomb, and so on.
    Welcome baby,
    It's your turn to live.
    They lie in wait for you, socialism, communism, and so on.
    • From Welcome (10 September 1961)
  • You're my bondage and my freedom,
    my flesh burning like a naked summer night,
    you're my country.
    Hazel eyes marbled green,
    you're awesome, beautiful, and brave,
    you're my desire always just out of reach.
    • From You're
  • Looking at this insolent earth,
    you hear the first battle cry of our species-
    trap it under a rock
    and together, screaming, attack
    and destroy it, as if killing a mammoth.
    • From Human Landscapes from My Country, Book Two, Section VII
  • At eighteen the heart shoots like a pebble from a slingshot
    and the head doesn't sit on the shoulder.
    • From Human Landscapes from My Country, Book Two, Section VII
  • At eighteen you sleep without memories.
    • From Human Landscapes from My Country, Book Two, Section VII
  • At eighteen you don't think about memories,
    you tell them.
    • From Human Landscapes from My Country, Book Two, Section VII
  • This earth will grow cold,
    a star among stars
    and one of the smallest,
    a gilded mote on blue velvet—
    I mean this, our great earth.
    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"...
  • Today is Sunday.
    For the first time they took me out into the sun today.
    And for the first time in my life I was aghast
    that the sky is so far away
              and so blue
              and so vast
                  I stood there without a motion.
    Then I sat on the ground with respectful devotion
    leaning against the white wall.
    Who cares about the waves with which I yearn to roll
    Or about strife or freedom or my wife right now.
    The soil, the sun and me...
    I feel joyful and how.
    • From Today is Sunday