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Some Advice To Those Who Will Serve Time In Prison

Written by: Nazim Hikmet | Biography
 If instead of being hanged by the neck
 you're thrown inside
 for not giving up hope
in the world, your country, your people,
 if you do ten or fifteen years
 apart from the time you have left,
you won't say,
 "Better I had swung from the end of a rope
 like a flag" --
You'll put your foot down and live.
It may not be a pleasure exactly,
but it's your solemn duty
 to live one more day
 to spite the enemy.
Part of you may live alone inside,
 like a tone 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 forget to laugh heartily.
And who knows,
the woman you love may stop loving you.
Don't say it's no big thing:
it's like the snapping of a green branch
 to the man inside.
To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without rest,
and I also advise weaving
and making mirrors.
I mean, it's not that you can't pass
 ten or fifteen years inside
 and more --
 you can,
 as long as the jewel
 on the left side of your chest doesn't lose it's luster!

 May 1949



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