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.
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