THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW I LOVED by Nazim Hikmet

THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW I LOVED

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The early poems of Nazim Hikmet (1902-63) are vigorous, good-humored and committed to a revolutionary politic. In 1922, he visited the Soviet Union for the first time; upon his return from one of his trips to Moscow in 1928, he was arrested and he spent seventeen of the succeeding 22 years in prison. Thus the work of his maturity expresses the melancholy and hopefulness of a man confined to solitary with only his pencil for amusement. Early on, he dedicates an expansive poem to Marx's enslaved workers (""They,"") and as the years pass--Hikmet considered the date an integral part of each poem--the strain of political martyrdom begins to tell. It becomes necessary to remind himself, ""it's your solemn duty to live one more day to spite the enemy."" Sickening in middle age, he iterates, ""we must live as if one never dies."" With the help of a committee which included Same, Neruda, Picasso, Hikmet was awarded the World Peace Prize and granted amnesty in 1950. Written from exile, his last poems are mellow, still filled with the ""happiness to be alive"" and the determination to be fully human, even if a 1961 poem records his disappointment that ""my writings are published in 34 languages/ in my Turkey. . . they're banned."" His books began to appear one by one after the overthrow of the U.S.-subsidized Menderes regime; now he is regarded as one of Turkey's greatest poets. The editors have made a small, personal selection of thirty poems (one is a ""verse-novel""). Hikmet is a completely 20th century man--an international poet of the first rank who deserves wider exposure here.

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Braziller