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Nazim Hikmet Biography | Poet

Photo of Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet was born on January 15, 1902 in Thessalonia, Greece and died June 3, 1963. He grew up in a wealthy home and was of Polish and Turkish descent. It is also reported that he was related to Polish nobility. His father, Hikmet Bey and his mother, Ayse Celile Hanim brought him up with a strong sense of politics as his father served as an Ottoman government official. He was also exposed to literature and poetry at an early age as his mother and grandfather wrote as well, setting the stage for him that he would run with later in life. He started writing poetry at age 17. He attended the Tasmetkep Primary School, later the Galatasaray High School. In 1913 he transferred to the Numune Mektebi School. In 1918, he graduated from the Ottoman Naval School on Heybeliada. In 1918 he began to serve a term in the navy but after a severe illness was excused.


His young years took place during the beginnings of World War I and there was much political trouble in Turkey. He was involved in the Turkish liberation movement along with some of his peers. His communist views got him in trouble and he found himself in different difficult situations although he was able to allude the front line of fighting in the war. He began writing poetry hoping to inspire others to join in his politics. He continued his education and attended The Communist University of the Toilers of the East where he studied sociology and economics.

Throughout his life he was arrested and imprisoned for several years because of his communist views and lived in exile for many years as well. He wrote many anti-war pieces throughout the years and was outwardly against war in general. One of his important pieces that reflect an anti-American feeling was written during the Korean War. He opposed this war specifically. The name of the piece is "On the soldier worth 23 cents." It is a real statement against the US Government whose soldiers earned $70 (this is a monthly salary).

His Works

He was the leader of the Turkish avant-garde movement and wrote many poems, many of which were set to music in Greece and Turkey. They have been translated into more than fifty languages world wide. He was also a novelist, playwrite, director and screenwriter. His political views colored his work throughout the years. He was a colorful and eccentric man with a strong character and will.

He wrote many poems, films, plays and dramatic pieces with a fire and a direction to inspire and transform thought. He wanted to raise eyebrows and create conversations that would ignite changes in the social fabric of Turkey and beyond.


In the 1940s, he had begun to become famous among many of his colleagues including Sartre, Robeson and Picasso due to his politics. In 1950 he began a hunger strike to protest the Turkish government during his imprisonment. This created a serious change around the country and it made many people outside of the borders more aware of the issues at hand. Others joined in his activities and he was later released and honored with the International Peace Prize later that year. He later left Turkey, escaped to Romania and relocated to Russia. He lived an honest life according to his beliefs even in the face of fear of death and imprisonment.

Later Years

He remained in Russia for the remaining years of his life in exile and for fear of continued persecution. He died of a heart attack in Russia. He had always wanted to be buried in his homeland but is buried in Moscow's famous Novodevichy Cemetery. His family continues to make requests to bring him home.


Nazim Hikmet lived an intense life during a difficult time in history. He was regularly misunderstood and punished for his beliefs. Many of his works have anti-war themes. Another one of these works include "The Girl Child." This is a poem that depicts a young girl who is killed during the atomic bombings. During this hateful and dark time, these introspective and painful poems hit the population hard. In her wish for peace from the afterlife is a haunting and important piece by Hikmet which has continued to make waves all these years later. 

Nazim Hikmet: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes

Book: Shattered Sighs