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Evening poems for Piraye

It is so beautiful to remember you
as I hear news of death and of victory,

as I sit in prison, at an age over forty.

How beautiful to remember your hand,

lying forgotten on a blue sheet,
and the noble softness of your hair,
soft like Istanbul soil.
The serene joy of loving you
is large as a second person inside me.
I remember the smell of geranium leaves
which lingers on your fingertips,
the sunny comfort and invitation of your flesh:
its hot, thick darkness, barred with red bands.

How beautiful it is to remember you,
to write about your memory,
to think as I lie on my back in my cell
of what you said someplace on some day,

and not of what you said
but the world of how you said it.

This beautiful remembering.
I must carve you some wood again:
   a drawer
   a ring,
weave you meters of thin silk.
And urgently
I must leap from my place
seize the bars of my room
and call out what I wrote for you
into the milkwhite blue of freedom.

It is beautiful to remember you
as I hear of deaths and victories,
while I am in prison,
and my age is over forty.


September 20, 1945

On this fall night
at this late hour, I am full of your words;
they are eternal as time and matter are,
naked as the eye, heavy as the hand,
words that shine like stars do.

Your words came to me,

made of your heart,

of your head, your flesh.
Your words brought you to me,

became mother, woman, companion to me;
these words of sorrow, of suffering,
these joyous, hopeful, heroic words
   were to me as human beings are.

September 21, 1945

Our son is ill,
his father here
in prison, and your heavy
head in your hands
tired hands: the state
of the world is our state.

People carry people towards better days.
Our son will heal,
his father will leave
his prison cell,
your golden eyes will laugh.
Our state will be the world's state.

September 22, 1945

I read and the book
has you inside it,
I hear a song: it has you.
I sit and eat my bread
and you sit across me,
I work:
you watch me.
You who are everywhere
willing and ready,
we cannot speak or hear
each other's voices.
You have been the wife

of the dead for eight years.

September 23, 1945

What is she doing
now, in this moment?
Is she home, or in the street
working, or lying down, or standing?
She may have raised her arm,
and I know how this bares
the white, thick wrist of my rose.

What is she doing now?
Perhaps she strokes a little
cat on her knees,
or is walking, about to step forward
with those feet that fill the kernel
of my heart, which bring her daintily to me
on every darkened day.

And what does she think
is it me?
Or perhaps
why the beans are still uncooked,
or why so many
in the world are so poor.

What does she think now,
right now, at this now what is she thinking?

September 24, 1945

The most beautiful sea is not yet seen,
the most beautiful child not grown,
the most beautiful of our days
are yet unlived.
And the most beautiful words I want you to hear
are the words I have not said.

September 25, 1945

It is nine.
The sound has come from the square,
the cells will close their doors.
This time prison has been long
a little long, eight years.
Living is a thing of hope, my love,
a serious thing, such is loving you.

September 26, 1945

They have enslaved,
imprisoned us:
I within the walls
and you without them.

But this is a small matter.
What is truly terrible:
how the insides of so many
people are prisons,
of good, honest, hardworking people,
who deserve to be loved as I love you.

September 30, 1945

To think of you is a beautiful
and hopeful thing, like hearing
the most beautiful song in the world
from the voice of greatest beauty.
But hope does not fulfill me.
I no longer want to hear songs
but to myself start singing.

October 1, 1945

Above the mountain is a cloud
burdened with the evening sun.
This day I have been denied you,
been denied half the world.
But soon there will bloom
the red night flowers,
and in the sky, brave, silent wings
will bear away our separation,
which is as profound
as exile from one's country.


Piraye'ye Saat 21-22 Şiirleri by Nazım Hikmet

Translated September 6, 2020

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