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Best Famous Nazim Hikmet Poems


Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Nazim Hikmet poems. This is a select list of the best famous Nazim Hikmet poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Nazim Hikmet poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Nazim Hikmet poems.

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by Nazim Hikmet |

Lion In An Iron Cage

 Look at the lion in the iron cage,
look deep into his eyes:
 like two naked steel daggers
 they sparkle with anger.
But he never loses his dignity
 although his anger
 comes and goes
 goes and comes.

You couldn't find a place for a collar
round his thick, furry mane.
Although the scars of a whip 
 still burn on his yellow back
his long legs
 stretch and end
 in the shape of two copper claws.
The hairs on his mane rise one by one
 around his proud head.
His hatred
 comes and goes
 goes and comes ...

The shadow of my brother on the wall of the dungeon
 moves 
 up and down
 up and down.


by Nazim Hikmet |

Autobiography

 Oh, both my shoes are shiny new,
And pristine is my hat;
My dress is 1922....
My life is all like that.


by Nazim Hikmet |

Optimistic Man

 as a child he never plucked the wings off flies
he didn't tie tin cans to cats' tails
or lock beetles in matchboxes
or stomp anthills
he grew up
and all those things were done to him
I was at his bedside when he died
he said read me a poem
about the sun and the sea
about nuclear reactors and satellites
about the greatness of humanity


by Nazim Hikmet |

About My Poetry

 I have no silver-saddled horse to ride,
no inheritance to live on,
neither riches no real-estate --
a pot of honey is all I own.
A pot of honey
 red as fire!

My honey is my everything.
I guard
my riches and my real-estate
-- my honey pot, I mean --
from pests of every species,
Brother, just wait...
As long as I've got
honey in my pot,
bees will come to it
 from Timbuktu...


by Nazim Hikmet |

Some Advice To Those Who Will Serve Time In Prison

 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


by Nazim Hikmet |

Angina Pectoris

 If half my heart is here, doctor,
 the other half is in China
with the army flowing
 toward the Yellow River.
And, every morning, doctor,
every morning at sunrise my heart
 is shot in Greece.
And every night,c doctor,
when the prisoners are asleep and the infirmary is deserted,
my heart stops at a run-down old house
 in Istanbul.
And then after ten years
all i have to offer my poor people
is this apple in my hand, doctor,
one read apple:
 my heart.
And that, doctor, that is the reason
for this angina pectoris--
not nicotine, prison, or arteriosclerosis.
I look at the night through the bars,
and despite the weight on my chest
my heart still beats with the most distant stars.


by Nazim Hikmet |

Regarding Art

 Sometimes, I, too, tell the ah's
of my heart one by one
like the blood-red beads
of a ruby rosary strung
 on strands of golden hair!

But my
poetry's muse
takes to the air
on wings made of steel
like the I-beams
 of my suspension bridges!

I don't pretend
 the nightingale's lament
to the rose isn't easy on the ears...
But the language
 that really speaks to me
are Beethoven sonatas played
on copper, iron, wood, bone, and catgut...

You can "have"
galloping off
in a cloud of dust!
Me, I wouldn't trade
for the purest-bred
 Arabian steed
the sixth mph
 of my iron horse
 running on iron tracks!

Sometimes my eye is caught like a big dumb fly
by the masterly spider webs in the corners of my room.
But I really look up
to the seventy-seven-story, reinforced-concrete mountains
 my blue-shirted builders create!

Were I to meet
the male beauty
"young Adonis, god of Byblos,"
on a bridge, I'd probably never notice;
but I can't help staring into my philosopher's glassy eyes
or my fireman's square face
 red as a sweating sun!

Though I can smoke
third-class cigarettes filled
on my electric workbenches,
I can't roll tobacco - even the finest-
in paper by hand and smoke it!
I didn't --
 "wouldn't" -- trade
my wife dressed in her leather cap and jacket
for Eve's nakedness!
Maybe I don't have a "poetic soul"?
What can I do
 when I love my own children
 more
 than mother Nature's!


by Nazim Hikmet |

Last Will And Testament

 Comrades, if I don't live to see the day
-- I mean,if I die before freedom comes --
take me away
and bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia.

The worker Osman whom Hassan Bey ordered shot
can lie on one side of me, and on the other side
the martyr Aysha, who gave birth in the rye
and died inside of forty days.

Tractors and songs can pass below the cemetery --
in the dawn light, new people, the smell of burnt gasoline,
fields held in common, water in canals,
no drought or fear of the police.

Of course, we won't hear those songs:
the dead lie stretched out underground
and rot like black branches,
deaf, dumb, and blind under the earth.

But, I sang those songs
before they were written,
I smelled the burnt gasoline
before the blueprints for the tractors were drawn.

As for my neighbors,
the worker Osman and the martyr Aysha,
they felt the great longing while alive,
maybe without even knowing it.

Comrades, if I die before that day, I mean
-- and it's looking more and more likely -- 
bury me in a village cemetery in Anatolia,
and if there's one handy,
 a plane tree could stand at my head,
 I wouldn't need a stone or anything.

 Moscow, Barviha Hospital


by Nazim Hikmet |

A Sad State Of Freedom

 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.


by Nazim Hikmet |

On Living

 I

Living is no laughing matter:
 you must live with great seriousness
 like a squirrel, for example--
 I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
 I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
 you must take it seriously,
 so much so and to such a degree
 that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
 your back to the wall,
 or else in a laboratory
 in your white coat and safety glasses,
 you can die for people--
 even for people whose faces you've never seen,
 even though you know living
 is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
 I mean, you must take living so seriously
 that even at seventy, for example, you'll plant olive trees--
 and not for your children, either,
 but because although you fear death you don't believe it,
 because living, I mean, weighs heavier.


 II

Let's say you're seriously ill, need surgery--
which is to say we might not get
 from the white table.
Even though it's impossible not to feel sad
 about going a little too soon,
we'll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we'll look out the window to see it's raining,
or still wait anxiously
 for the latest newscast ...
Let's say we're at the front--
 for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
 we might fall on our face, dead.
We'll know this with a curious anger,
 but we'll still worry ourselves to death
 about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let's say we're in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say, 
 before the iron doors will open.
We'll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind--
 I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
 we must live as if we will never die.


 III

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" ...