Turkish poet Nâzım Hikmet is now recognized as one of the great international poets of the twentieth century. But during his lifetime, this ‘romantic revolutionary’ was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs.
Frequently exiled and imprisoned, he was homesick for Turkey for most of his life.
This poem captures the push-pull and love-hate inspired by home: the affection, the yearning, the curiosity, the knowing a place with all its flaws and beauties.
Such a hot sun like a mother’s care…
Could you say a hello, secretly…
Is like a river in the desert of your longing.
Born in Salonika, Ottoman Empire (now Thessaloníki, Greece), in 1902, Turkish poet and novelist Nâzım Hikmet was lit with fire early in life. He published his first poems when he was just 17 years old. After WWI, he left Allied-occupied Turkey for Moscow, where he studied at university and met other artists from all over the world. When Turkey achieved independence in 1924, he returned home but was soon arrested for working on a leftist magazine. This was a repeating pattern: writing, arrest, escape, writing, arrest. (When he was imprisoned in the 1940s, artist Pablo Picasso, singer Paul Robeson, and philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre teamed up to campaign for his release.) Hikmet left Turkey for the final time in 1951 and lived the rest of his life in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe. His works were banned in his homeland until 1965, but he’s now considered one of Turkey’s most beloved writers.
Top image courtesy of Ibrahim Uzun/Unsplash.
Want to keep up with our book-related adventures? Sign up for our newsletter!
Strong Sense of Place is a website and podcast dedicated to literary travel and books we love. Reading good books increases empathy. Empathy is good for all of us and the amazing world we inhabit.
Strong Sense of Place is a listener-supported podcast. If you like the work we do, you can help make it happen by joining our Patreon! That'll unlock bonus content for you, too — including Mel's secret book reviews and Dave's behind-the-scenes notes for the latest Two Truths and a Lie.
This is a weekly email. If you'd like a quick alert whenever we update our blog, subscribe here.
We'll share enough detail to help you decide if a book is for you, but we'll never ruin plot twists or give away the ending.
This 30-page Reading Atlas takes you around the world with dozens of excellent books and gorgeous travel photos. Get your free copy when you subscribe to our newsletter.
Content on this site is © 2022 by Smudge Publishing, unless otherwise noted. Peace be with you, person who reads the small type.