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Nâzım Hikmet Ran (Russian: Haзым Хикмет, born January 15, 1902 in Thessaloniki – died June 3, 1963 in Moscow),[1][2] commonly known as Nâzım Hikmet (Template:IPA-tr), was a Turkish poet, playwright, novelist and memoirist. He was acclaimed for the "lyrical flow of his statements".[3] Described as a "romantic communist"[4] and "romantic revolutionary",[3] he was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs and spent much of his adult life in prison or in exile. His poetry has been translated into more than fifty languages.


He came from a cosmopolitan and distinguished family of Turkish, Polish and Circassian ancestry, his father Hikmet Bey was the son of Mehmet Nazım Pasha and his mother Celile Hanım was the grand-daughter of Mehmet Ali Pasha, who was of German origin. His maternal great-grandfather, Mustafa Celaleddin Pasha, (former Konstantin Polkozic-Borzecki 1826-1876) in Ottoman Empire, was of Polish origin and later converted to Islam, and authored "Les Turcs anciens et modernes” in Constantinople, 1869 which is considered one of the first works of national Turkist political thoughts. His uncle Enver Celaleddin Pasha was an Ottoman Army General Staff.[citation needed]

Early life

Nâzım was born on January 15, 1902, in Selânik, the westernmost metropolis of the Ottoman Empire (today Thessaloniki in Greece), where his father served as a government official.[1][2] He attended the Taşmektep Primary School in the Göztepe district of Constantinople[5] [its name was Constantinople at that time, until it was renamed as Istanbul in 1930[6][7] as part of Atatürk's national reforms[8][9]], and later enrolled in the junior high school section of the prestigious Galatasaray Lisesi in the Beyoğlu district, where he began to learn French; but in 1913 he was transferred to the Numune Mektebi in the Nişantaşı district. In 1918 he graduated from the Turkish Naval Academy in Heybeliada, one of the Princes' Islands located in the Sea of Marmara, to the southeast of Constantinople. His school days coincided with a period of political upheaval as the Ottoman government entered the First World War allying itself with Germany. For a brief period he was assigned as a naval officer to the Ottoman Navy cruiser Hamidiye, but in 1919 he became seriously ill, and not being able to fully recover, was exempted from naval service in 1920.

In 1921, together with his friends Vala Nurettin (Va-Nu), Yusuf Ziya Ortaç and Faruk Nafiz Çamlıbel, he went to İnebolu in Anatolia in order to join the Turkish War of Independence; from there he (together with Vala Nurettin) walked to Ankara, where the Turkish liberation movement was headquartered. In Ankara they were introduced to Mustafa Kemal Pasha (Atatürk) who wanted the two friends to write a poem that would invite and inspire the Turkish volunteers in Constantinople and elsewhere to join their struggle. This poem was much appreciated, and Muhittin Bey (Birgen) decided to appoint them as teachers to the Sultani (high school) in Bolu, rather than sending them to the front as soldiers. However, their communist views were not appreciated by the conservative officials in Bolu, and the two decided to go to Batumi in the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic to experience in first person the results of the Russian Revolution of 1917, arriving there on September 30, 1921. In July 1922 the two friends went to Moscow, where Hikmet studied Economics and Sociology at the Communist University of the Toilers of the East in the early 1920s. There, he was influenced by the artistic experiments of Vladimir Mayakovsky and Vsevolod Meyerhold, as well as the ideological vision of Lenin.[4]

Style and achievements

Despite writing his first poems in syllabic meter, Nazım Hikmet distinguished himself from the "syllabic poets" in concept. With the development of his poetic conception, the narrow forms of syllabic verse became too limiting for his style and he set out to seek new forms for his poems.

He was affected by the young Soviet poets who advocated Futurism. On his return to Turkey, he became the charismatic leader of the Turkish avant-garde, producing streams of innovative poems, plays and film scripts.[4] Breaking the boundaries of the syllabic meter, he changed his form and preferred writing in free verse which harmonised with the rich vocal properties of the Turkish language.

He has been compared by Turkish and non-Turkish men of letters to such figures as Federico García Lorca, Louis Aragon, Mayakovsky and Pablo Neruda. Although his work bears resemblance to these poets and owes them occasional debts of form and stylistic device, his literary personality is unique in terms of the synthesis he made of iconoclasms and lyricism, of ideology and poetic diction.[3]Template:Rp

Many of his poems have been adapted into songs by the composer Zülfü Livaneli. A part of his work has been translated into Greek by Yiannis Ritsos, and some of these translations have been arranged by the Greek composers Manos Loizos and Thanos Mikroutsikos.

Later life and legacy

File:Nazim Hikmet Mezar.jpg

Nâzım Hikmet's gravestone at the Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow

Hikmet's imprisonment in the 1940s became a cause célèbre among intellectuals worldwide; a 1949 committee that included Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, and Jean Paul Sartre campaigned for Hikmet's release.[10]

On April 8, 1950, Hikmet commenced a hunger strike in protest against the parliament's not including an amnesty law in its agenda before its closing for the upcoming general election. He was then transferred from the prison in Bursa first to the infirmary of Sultanahmet Jail in Istanbul and later to Paşakapısı Prison.[11] Seriously ill, Hikmet ceased his strike on April 23, the National Sovereignty and Children's Day for a while. His doctors requested to treat him in a hospital for three months that was not allowed by the officials. Since his imprisonment status did not change, he resumed hunger strike on the morning of May 2.[10]

His strike created much reaction in the country. Signature campaigns were launched and a magazine named after him was published. His mother Celile began hunger strike on May 9, followed by renowned Turkish poets Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet and Oktay Rıfat the next day. Upon the new political situation after the 1950 Turkish general election held on May 14, the strike was ended five days later on May 19, the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. He was finally released through a general amnesty law enacted by the new government.[10]

On November 22, 1950, the World Council of Peace announced that Nazım Hikmet was among the recipients of the International Peace Prize along with Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, Wanda Jakubowska and Pablo Neruda.[10]

Later on, Hikmet escaped from Turkey to Romania on a ship via Black Sea and from there moved to the USSR.

When the upspring of the EOKA struggle took place in Cyprus, Hikmet believed that the population of Cyprus could live together peacefully and called on the Turkish minority to support the Greek Cypriots to achieve the demand of ending the British rule.[12] "[citation needed]),

Persecuted for decades by the Republic of Turkey during the Cold War for his communist views, Hikmet died of a heart attack in Moscow on June 3, 1963 at 6.30 am while picking up a morning newspaper at the door at his summer house in Peredelkino away from his beloved homeland.[13] He is buried in Moscow's famous Novodevichy Cemetery, where his imposing tombstone is even today a place for pilgrimage by Turks and communists from around the world. His final will was to be buried under a plane-tree (platanus) in any village cemetery in Anatolia, which was never realized.

Despite his persecution by the Turkish state, Nâzım Hikmet was always revered by the Turkish nation. His poems depicting the people of the countryside, villages, towns and cities of his homeland (Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları, i.e. Human Landscape from my Country) as well as the Turkish War of Independence (Kurtuluş Savaşı Destanı, i.e. The Epic of the War of Independence) and the Turkish revolutionaries (Kuvâyi Milliye, i.e. Force of the Nation) are considered among the greatest patriotic literary works in Turkey.

Nazim has Polish and Turkish citizenship. The latter was revoked in 1959, and restored in 2009.[14][15] His family has been asked if they want his remains repatriated from Russia.[16]

Selected works

I come and stand at every door

File:Nazım hikmet kız çocuğu.JPG

The poem (titled as "Ölü Kızcağız" on the photo) typewritten by Nâzım Hikmet himself and the letter of Japanese children to him presenting their thanks

Nâzım's poem Kız Çocuğu (The Little Girl) conveys a plea for peace from a seven-year-old girl, ten years after she has perished in the atomic bomb attack at Hiroshima. It has achieved popularity as an anti-war message and has been performed as a song by a number of singers and musicians both in Turkey and worldwide,[17] which is also known in English by various other titles, including "I come and Stand at Every Door" and "Hiroshima Girl".[18]


The song was later covered by

  • Ibon Errazkin has an instrumental song with same title at Esculea de arte album
  • Styrofoam aka Arne Van Petegem's EP and first US release, RR20, included an instrumental version of the traditional tune of Great Silkie with same title.

In 2005, famed Amami Ōshima singer Chitose Hajime collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto by translating Kız Çocuğu into Japanese by retitling it as 'Shinda Onna no Ko' [死んだ女の子]). It was performed live at the Atomic Bomb Dome in Hiroshima on the eve of the 60th Anniversary (August the 5th, 2005) of Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The song later appeared as a bonus track on Chitose's Hanadairo album in 2006.

On the soldier worth 23 cents

How do you propose to get it? Do you want to get it through the cooperation of Turkey where the men in the ranks get 23 cents a month the first year and 32 cents the second year, or do you want to get an American division and equip it and send it over to Turkey which would cost you 10 times as much?
—John Foster Dulles, U.S. Secretary of State, 1955

He also opposed the Korean War, in which Turkey participated. After the Senate address of John Foster Dulles, who served as U.S. Secretary of State under President Dwight D. Eisenhower, where he valued Turkish soldiers at 23 cents a month[21] compared with the lowest echelon U.S. soldiers at $70,[22] Nazım Hikmet wrote a protest poem criticising the policies of the United States. This poem is titled "23 Sentlik Askere Dair" (On the soldier worth 23 cents).

Letters from Prison

Take out the dress i first saw you in
look your best,
look like spring trees
Wear in your hair
the carnation i sent you in a letter from prison,
raise your kissable, lined, broad white forehead.
Today, not broken and sad-
no way!
today Nazim Hikmet's woman must be beautiful
like a rebel flag...

4 December 1945[23]

Letters to Kemal Tahir from Prison

This world will grow cold,
a star among stars,
one of the smallest,
this great world of ours
a gilded mote on blue velvet.
This world will grow cold one day,
not like a ball of ice,
or even a lifeless cloud -
but like an empty walnut it will roll around and around
in pitch dark space for ever.
You must grieve for it right now,
and endure the sadness,
for you must love the world this much
if you are to say,
'I have lived'.

February 1948[24]


Nazım Hikmet's Davet ("Invitation") is one of his best known poems. Nazım tells what he wants, and what life should be like, in the poem's last lines about living "alone and free like a tree" and "in brotherly love like a forest".

Davet Invitation
Dörtnala gelip Uzak Asya'dan Galloping from the Far East
Akdeniz'e bir kısrak başı gibi uzanan reaching to the Mediterranean like a mare head
bu memleket bizim. this land is ours.

Bilekler kan içinde, dişler kenetli, ayaklar çıplak Wrists in blood, teeth clenched, feet bare
ve ipek bir halıya benzeyen toprak, and like a silk carpet this land,
bu cehennem, bu cennet bizim. this hell, this heaven is ours.

Kapansın el kapıları, bir daha açılmasın, Let the alien doors be closed, let them not open again,
yok edin insanın insana kulluğunu, abolish man's servitude to man,
bu dâvet bizim. this invitation is ours.

Yaşamak bir ağaç gibi tek ve hür To live like a tree in solitude and free
ve bir orman gibi kardeşçesine, and like a forest in solidarity,
bu hasret bizim. this yearning is ours.

Nazım Hikmet (1902–1963)[25]

In popular culture

  • Tale of Tales is a 1979 Russian film partially inspired by Hikmet's poem of the same name.
  • The Ignorant Fairies is a 2001 Italian film, in which a book by Hikmet plays a central plot role.
  • Mavi Gözlü Dev ("Blue eyed giant") is a 2007 Turkish biographical film about Nazım Hikmet.

Italic text==Bibliography==


  • Kafatası (1932, The Skull)
  • Unutulan Adam (1935, The Forgotten Man)
  • Ferhad ile Şirin 1965 (Ferhad and Şirin)
  • Lüküs Hayat - Luxurious Living (under someoneelse' account)


  • Yaşamak Güzel Şey be Kardeşim (1967, It's great to be alive, brother)


  • Taranta-Babu'ya Mektuplar (1935, Letters to Taranta-Babu)
  • Şeyh Bedrettin Destanına Zeyl (1935, The Epic of Sheikh Bedreddin)
  • Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları (1966–67, Human Landscapes from My Country)
  • Kurtuluş Savaşı Destanı (1965, The Epic of the War of Independence)


  • İlk şiirler / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : Yapı Kredi, 2002. ISBN 9750803809
  • 835 satır / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : YKY, 2002. ISBN 9750803736
  • Benerci kendini niçin öldürdü? / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : YKY, 2002. ISBN 9750803744
  • Kuvâyi Milliye / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : YKY, 2002. ISBN 9750803752
  • Yatar Bursa Kalesinde / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : YKY, 2002. ISBN 9750803760
  • Memleketimden insan manzaraları : (insan manzaraları) / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : YKY, 2002. ISBN 9750803779
  • Yeni şiirler : (1951–1959) / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2002. ISBN 9750803787
  • Son şiirleri : (1959–1963) / Nâzım Hikmet, İstanbul : Yapı Kredi Yayınları, 2002. ISBN 9750803795

Partial list of translated works in English

  • The day before tomorrow : poems / done into English by Taner Baybars. [South Hinksey, Eng.] : Carcanet Press, 1972. ISBN 0902145436
  • Human landscapes / by Nazim Hikmet ; translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk ; foreword by Denise Levertov, New York : Persea Books, c1982. ISBN 0892550686
  • Beyond the walls : selected poems / Nâzim Hikmet ; translated by Ruth Christie, Richard McKane, Talât Sait Halman ; introduction by Talât Sait Halman, London : Anvil Press Poetry, 2002. ISBN 0856463299
  • Selected poetry / Nazim Hikmet ; translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk, New York : Persea Books, c1986. ISBN 0892551011
  • Nâzım Hikmet, That Wall / illustrations [by] Maureen Scott, London : League of Socialist Artists, [1973]. ISBN 0950297623

Partial translations in other languages

  • Preso na Fortaleza de Bursa/Yatar Bursa Kalesinde, Leonardo da Fonseca (Trans.), In. (n.t.) Revista Literária em Tradução nº 1 (set/2010), Fpolis/Brasil, ISSN 2177-5141


  1. 1.0 1.1 Encyclopædia Britannica: Nazım Hikmet (Turkish author)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Nazım Hikmet Kültür ve Sanat Vakfı
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Selected poems, Nazim Hikmet translated by Ruth Christie, Richard McKane, Talat Sait Halman, Anvil press Poetry, 2002, p.9 ISBN 0 85646 329 9
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Saime Goksu, Edward Timms, Romantic Communist: The Life and Work of Nazim Hikmet, St. Martin's Press, New York ISBN 0-312-22247-5[page needed]
  5. Finkel, Caroline, Osman's Dream, (Basic Books, 2005), 57; "Istanbul was only adopted as the city's official name in 1930..".
  6. BBC - Timeline: Turkey.
  7. Room, Adrian, (1993), Place Name changes 1900-1991, Metuchen, N.J., & London:The Scarecrow Press, Inc., ISBN 0-8108-2600-3 pp. 46, 86.
  8. Britannica, Istanbul.
  9. Lexicorient, Istanbul.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 "Nazım Hikmet". Ministry of Culture. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  11. "Life Story -5". Nazım Hikmet Ran. Retrieved 2010-02-07.
  12. Greek newspaper Avgi, 17/1/1955 and Phileleftheros, 31/3/2007:

    Hikmet sent a message to the Turks of Cyprus, emphasizing that Cyprus was always Greek. [...] (The Turkish Cypriots) must support Greek Cypriots to achieve the liberation from British imperialism. [...] Only when the British imperialists leave the island the Turkish residents of the island will live truly free. [...] Those who try to make Turks oppose Greeks, actually only support the interest of the foreign ruler.

  13. Nazim Hikmet
  14. "Nazım'la ilgili girişim iade-i itibar değil" (in Turkish). CNN Turk. 2009-01-10. Retrieved 2009-01-11.
  15. Template:Cite press release
  16. "Nazım yeniden Türk vatandaşı oluyor" (in Turkish). Radikal. 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2009-01-05.
  17. 17.0 17.1
  19. Template:YouTube
  20. Seeger describes the story behind his version of the song in his Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Singer's Stories, Songs, Seeds, Robberies (A Musical Autobiography) (1993): "In the late '50's I got a letter: 'Dear Pete Seeger: I've made what I think is a singable translation of a poem by the Turkish poet, Nazim Hikmet. Do you think you could make a tune for it? (Signed), Jeanette Turner.' I tried for a week. Failed. Meanwhile I couldn't get out of my head an extraordinary melody put together by an Massachusetts Institute of Technology student who had put a new tune to a mystical ballad The Great Silkie from the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. Without his permission I used his melody for Hikmet's words. It was wrong of me. I should have gotten his permission. But it worked. The Byrds made a good recording of it, electric guitars and all."
  21. United States Congress. Senate Committee on Appropriations (1955). Legislative-judiciary Appropriations. U.S. Govt. Print. Off.. pp. 87.
  22. United States Congress, Committee on Foreign Relations (1951). Mutual Security Act of 1951. U.S. Govt. Print. Off.. pp. 60.
  23. Romantic Communist, the Life and Works of Nazım Hikmet, Saime Göksu and Edward Timms.
  24. Source: Beyond the Walls: Selected Poems by Nazım Hikmet, Richard McKane, and Ruth Christie
  25. Davet, Nâzım Hikmet

External links

Template:Turkish Literature Template:Lists of poets

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