Turkish author. Born 1902 in Thessaloniki (in present-day Greece), died 1963.
Born into the upper class of Ottoman society, Nâzim Hikmet showed early signs of rebellion, joining the Kemalist Turkish nationalist movement, and the Leninist revolutionary movement. After a stay at the university in Moscow (1922-1928), he returned home, only to receive several convictions for illicit political activity and treason.
In 1951, after a prolonged stay in a prison at Bursa (1937-1950), and following threats made against his life, he escaped to the Soviet Union, where he lived out the remainder of his life.
Nâzim Hikmet produced an enormous oeuvre, consisting of collections of poetry, epics, plays, essays, three novels and copious correspondence with colleagues. A consistent theme in his work is the synthesis of tradition and modernity. His first stay in Moscow, in the 1920s, produced a number of poetic works, inspired by dadaist and futurist currents, showing particularly the influence of Vladimir Mayakovsky. These poems represented a fundamental break with the Ottoman divan tradition of poetry.
His incarceration from 1937 to 1950 shaped and pervaded several of his most significant works, particularly his magnum opus, Human Landscapes (Five volumes, 1941-1948) a panoramic reflection on the first half of the 20th century.
As a playwright, Hikmet's chief inspiration is clearly Bertolt Brecht, but the influence of Vsevolod Meyerhold's theatrical principles is also evident.
Nâzim Hikmet's final work, Whither sails the ship with a hundred masts? (1962) is a modernist memoir, in which the poet depicts his life as a confluence of poetry and politics.
Today is Sunday
Today is Sunday.
Today, for the first time,
they took me out into the sun
and for the first time in my life
I looked at the sky
amazed that it was so far
and so blue
and so wide.
I stood without moving
and then respectfully sat upon the black earth,
pressed my back against the wall.
Now, not even the thought of dying,
not a thought of freedom, of my wife,
The earth, the sun, and me...
I am happy.
- Nâzim Hikmet Ran