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A Turkish poem July 5, 2010

Posted by Jenny in literature, nature, poetry.
Tags: , ,

Turk's cap lilies

It dawned on me that a writing from a Turkish poet would be a strangely appropriate accompaniment for these pictures I took last week. The poem is by Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963), who spent decades of his life imprisoned by the Turkish government for his political views.

This poem may seem at first to be terribly somber, but what I love about it is its passionate adherence to the value and the intensity of life, no matter what its difficulties. The Turk’s cap lily blooms every summer in its celebration of life, despite its harsh environment, often above 5000 feet in the Southern Appalachians.

They flourish at high elevations

ON LIVING (an excerpt)

Living is no laughing matter:

you must live with great seriousness

like a squirrel, for example—

I mean without looking for something above and beyond 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.

.  .  .  .

#  #  #

(Translated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk. You may find the whole poem and information about the poet’s life here.)

Nazim Hikmet


1. Artswebshow - July 5, 2010

this is a wonderful poem

2. Thomas Stazyk - July 5, 2010

Thanks for the fantastic poem and also for letting me know about Nazim Hikmet–I hadn’t heard of him before.

3. kaslkaos - July 10, 2010

Thanks for sharing this poem; much to think about within. The turks-cap is fitting illustration to go with it.

4. tanhualp - July 26, 2010

bula bula nazımı mı buldunuz 😀

Jenny - July 26, 2010

I don’t know Turkish. I tried a couple of internet translations—seems like you have some kind of a problem with what I said. Just come out and say it in English if you really mean it, since you obviously know English—I looked at your website—you have Clint Eastwood in English! Funny.

5. lev - October 13, 2010

He has written a silly sentence. He dislikes Nazim.

Jenny - October 13, 2010

Thank you, Lev.

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