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.
Nazim Hikmet (Mehmed Nazim Ran, 15 January 1902 – 3 June 1963) is considered the first modern Turkish poet, and one of the great international poets of the twentieth century. Raised in Istanbul, Hikmet attended university in Moscow and met writers and artists from all over the world. After Turkish Independence in 1924, he returned to Turkey but was soon arrested for working on a leftist magazine. He managed to escape to Russia, where he continued to write plays and poems. He was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. Many of Hikmet’s works have been translated into English, including Human Landscapes from My Country: An Epic Novel in Verse (Persea Books, 2009); Things I Didn’t Know I LovedThe Day Before Tomorrow (Carcanet Press, 1972); The Moscow Symphony (Rapp & Whiting, 1970); and Selected Poems (Cape Editions, 1967). In 1936, he published Seyh Bedreddin destani (“The Epic of Shaykh Bedreddin”) and Memleketimden insan manzaralari (“Portraits of People from My Land”). Ayesha Kidwai is a linguist who teaches at JNU, New Delhi. She translates between Hindi/Urdu and English bilingually.