Nazim Hikmet was a Turkish poet of international acclaim. He was born Nov. 20, 1901 (d. 1963). A ‘romantic revolutionary’ of temperament, he was persecuted and imprisoned in Turkey for his Communist affiliation. He was forced into exile in Russia and died in Moscow of a heart attack.

Nazim Hikmet: Some Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison
                                (trans. by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing)

If instead of being hanged by the neck
    you’re thrown inside
    for not giving up hope
in the world, your country, and 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 stone 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 its luster!

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