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150 ECG - 150 ĐTĐ - HAMPTON - 4th ED.


Friday, July 1, 2011

If I do not burn -Nếu tôi không cháy lên

If I do not burn

Nếu tôi không cháy lên,

If I do not burn

If you do not burn

If we do not burn

How will darkness come to light?

(Nazim Hikmet, “Like Kerem”)

Nếu tôi không cháy lên,

Nếu anh không cháy lên,

Nếu chúng ta không cháy lên,

Thì làm sao...

Bóng tối.

Có thể trở thành...ánh sáng!

(Nadim Hikmet)




Falling Leaves
I've read about falling leaves in fifty thousand
poems novels and so on
watched leaves falling in fifty thousand movies
seen leaves fall fifty thousand times
fall drift and rot
felt their dead shush shush fifty thousand times
underfoot in my hands on my fingertips
but I'm still touched by falling leaves
especially those falling on boulevards
especially chestnut leaves
and if kids are around
if it's sunny
and I've got good news for friendship
especially if my heart doesn't ache
and I believe my love loves me
especially if it's a day I feel good about people
I'm touched by falling leaves
especially those falling on boulevards
especially chestnut leaves
6 September 1961


The knight of immortal youth
at the age of fifty found his mind in his heart
and on July morning went out to capture
the right, the beautiful, the just.

Facing him a world of silly and arrogant giants,
he on his sad but brave Rocinante.
I know what it means to be longing for something,
but if your heart weighs only a pound and sixteen ounces,
there's no sense, my Don, in fighting these senseless windmills.

But you are right, of course, Dulcinea is your woman,
the most beautiful in the world;
I'm sure you'll shout this fact
at the face of street-traders;
but they'll pull you down from your horse
and beat you up.
But you, the unbeatable knight of our curse,
will continue to glow behind the heavy iron visor
and Dulcinea will become even more beautiful.

Translated by Taner Baybars


I come and stand at every door
But none can hear my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead for I am dead

I'm only seven though I died
In Hiroshima long ago
I'm seven now as I was then
When children die they do not grow

My hair was scorched by swirling flame
My eyes grew dim my eyes grew blind
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And that was scattered by the wind

I need no fruit I need no rice
I need no sweets nor even bread
I ask for nothing for myself
For I am dead for I am dead

All that I need is that for peace
You fight today you fight today
So that the children of this world
Can live and grow and laugh and play


The Picture of Happiness is a poem of great Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet. He asks with his this poem if Abidin Dino can make the picture of happiness. Abidin Dino, who is a wonderful painter, makes it and answer with a poem too. By the way great Turkish composer Zülfü Livaneli composes it.

Can you make the picture of happiness, Abidin?
But not in an easy way.
Not a picture of an angel-faced momy,
breastfeeding her rose-cheeked baby,
Nor apples on a white cover,
Nor goldfish, swimming around between
water bubbles in an aquarium,
Can you make a picture of happiness, Abidin?
Can you do a picture of Cuba in mid-1961's summer?
Can you do a picture saying "
Thanks god, luckily I've seen today,...
...I never mind even I die!"?
Nazim Hikmet.


I carved your name on my watchband
with my fingernail.
Where I am, you know,
I don't have a pearl-handled jackknife
(they won't give me anything sharp)
or a plane tree with its head in the clouds.
Trees may grow in the yard,
but I'm not allowed
to see the sky overhead...
How many others are in this place?
I don't know.
I'm alone far from them,
they're all together far from me.
To talk anyone besides myself
is forbidden.
So I talk to myself.
But I find my conversation so boring,
my dear wife, that I sing songs.
And what do you know,
that awful, always off-key voice of mine
touches me so
that my heart breaks.
And just like the barefoot orphan
lost in the snow
in those old sad stories, my heart
-- with moist blue eyes
and a little red runny rose --
wants to snuggle up in your arms.
It doesn't make me blush
that right now
I'm this weak,
this selfish,
this human simply.
No doubt my state can be explained
physiologically, psychologically, etc.
Or maybe it's
this barred window,
this earthen jug,
these four walls,
which for months have kept me from hearing
another human voice.

It's five o'clock, my dear.
with its dryness,
eerie whispers,
mud roof,
and lame, skinny horse
standing motionless in infinity
-- I mean, it's enough to drive the man inside crazy with grief --
outside, with all its machinery and all its art,
a plains night comes down red on treeless space.

Again today, night will fall in no time.
A light will circle the lame, skinny horse.
And the treeless space, in this hopeless landscape
stretched out before me like the body of a hard man,
will suddenly be filled with stars.
We'll reach the inevitable end once more,
which is to say the stage is set
again today for an elaborate nostalgia.
the man inside,
once more I'll exhibit my customary talent,
and singing an old-fashioned lament
in the reedy voice of my childhood,
once more, by God, it will crush my unhappy heart
to hear you inside my head,
so far
away, as if I were watching you
in a smoky, broken mirror...

It's spring outside, my dear wife, spring.
Outside on the plain, suddenly the smell
of fresh earth, birds singing, etc.
It's spring, my dear wife,
the plain outside sparkles...
And inside the bed comes alive with bugs,
the water jug no longer freezes,
and in the morning sun floods the concrete...
The sun--
every day till noon now
it comes and goes
from me, flashing off
and on...
And as the day turns to afternoon, shadows climb the walls,
the glass of the barred window catches fire,
and it's night outside,
a cloudless spring night...
And inside this is spring's darkest hour.
In short, the demon called freedom,
with its glittering scales and fiery eyes,
possesses the man inside
especially in spring...
I know this from experience, my dear wife,
from experience...

Sunday today.
Today they took me out in the sun for the first time.
And I just stood there, struck for the first time in my life
by how far away the sky is,
how blue
and how wide.
Then I respectfully sat down on the earth.
I leaned back against the wall.
For a moment no trap to fall into,
no struggle, no freedom, no wife.
Only earth, sun, and me...
I am happy.

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)


I want to die before you.
Do you think that who passes later
will find who's gone before?
I don't think so.
You'd better have me burned,
and put me on the stove in your room
in a jar.
The jar shall be made of glass,
transparent, white glass
so that you can see me inside...
You see my sacrifice;
I renounced from being part of the earth,
I renounced from being a flower
to be able to stay with you.
And I am becoming dust
to live with you.
Later, when you also die,
you'll come to my jar.
And we'll live there together
your ash in my ash,
until a careless bride
or an unfaithful grandson
throws us out of there...
But we
until that time
will mix
with each other
so much that
even in the garbage we are thrown into
our grains will fall side by side.
We will dive into the soil together.
And one day, if a wild flower
feeds from this piece of soil and blossoms
above its body,
definitely there will be two flowers:
one is you,
One is me..


The mailman.

Whether at dawn or in the middle of the night, I've carried people news --of other people, the world, and my country,
of trees, the birds and the
beasts--in the bag of my heart.
I've been a poet,
which is a kind of mailman. As a child, I wanted to be a mailman, not via poetry or anything but literally--a real mail carrier. In geography books and Jules Verne's novels my colored pencils drew a thousand different pictures
of the same mailman--Nazim. Here, I'm driving a dogsled
over ice, canned goods and mail packets
glint in the Arctic twilight: I'm crossing the Bering Strait. Or here, under the shadow of heavy clouds on the steppe, I'm handing out mail to soldiers and drinking kefir. Or here, on the humming asphalt of a big city, I bring only good news
and hope. Or I'm in the desert, under the stars, a little girl lies burning up with fever, and there's knock on the door at midnight: "Mailman!" The little girl opens her big blue eyes: her father will come home from prison tomorrow. I was the one who found that house in the snowstorm and gave the neighbor girl the telegram. As a child, I wanted to be a mailman. But it's a difficult art in my Turkey. In that beautiful country
a mailman bears all manner of pain in telegrams
and line on line of grief in letters. As a child, I wanted to be a mailman. I got my wish in Hungary at fifty. Spring is in my bag, letters full of the Danube's shimmer,
the twitter of birds, and the smell of fresh grass--letters from the children of Budapest
to children in Moscow. Heaven is in my bag... One envelope writes: "Memet, Nazim Hikmet's son, Turkey." Back in Moscow I'll deliver the letters to their addresses one by one. Only Memet's letter I can't deliver or even send. Nazim's son, highwaymen block the roads--your letter can't get through.

May 1954


Thinking of you is pretty, hopeful,

It is like listening to the most beautiful song

From the most beautiful voice on earth...

But hope is not enough for me any more,

I don't want to listen to songs any more,

I want to sing.


Mary didn't give birth to God.

Mary isn't the mother of God.

Mary is one mother among many mothers.

Mary gave birth to a son,

a son among many sons.

That's why Mary is so beautiful in all the pictures of her.

That's why Mary's son is so close to us, like our own sons.

The faces of our women are the book of our pains.

Our pains, our faults and the blood we shed

carve scars on the faces of our women like plows.

And our joys are reflected in the eyes of women

like the dawns glowing on the lakes.

Our imaginations are on the faces of women we love.

Whether we see them or not, they are before us,

closest to our realities and furthest.


The Blue-Eyed Giant, the Miniature Woman

and the Honeysuckle

He was a blue-eyed giant,

He loved a miniature woman.

The woman's dream was of a miniature house

with a garden where honeysuckle grows

in a riot of colours

that sort of house.

The giant loved like a giant,

and his hands were used to such big things

that the giant could not

make the building,

could not knock on the door

of the garden where the honeysuckle grows

in a riot of colours

at that house.

He was a blue-eyed giant,

he loved a miniature woman,

a mini miniature woman.

The woman was hungry for comfort

and tired of the giant's long strides.

And bye bye off she went to the embraces of a rich dwarf with a garden where the honeysuckle grows

in a riot of colours

that sort of house.

Now the blue-eyed giant realizes,

a giant isn't even a graveyard for love:

in the garden where the honeysuckle grows

in a riot of colours

that sort of house...


You are my enslavement and my freedom

You are my flesh burning like a raw summer night

You are my country

You are the green silks in hazel eyes

You are big, beautiful and triumphant

And you are my sorrow that isn't felt

the more I feel it.


You are my drunkenness...

I did not sober up, as if I can do that;

I don't want to anyway.

I have a headache, my knees are full of scars

I am in mud all around

I struggle to walk towards your hesitant light.


To overcome lies in the heart, in the streets, in the books

from the lullabies of the mothers

to the news report that the speaker reads,

understanding, my love, what a great joy it is,

to understand what is gone and what is on the way.


I love you

like dipping bread into salt and eating

Like waking up at night with high fever

and drinking water, with the tap in my mouth

Like unwrapping the heavy box from the postman

with no clue what it is

fluttering, happy, doubtful

I love you

like flying over the sea in a plane for the first time

Like something moves inside me

when it gets dark softly in Istanbul

I love you

Like thanking God that we live.


I think of you

and I feel the scent of my mother

my mother, the most beautiful of all.

You are on the carousel of the festival inside me

you hover around, your skirt and your hair flying

Mere seconds between finding your beautiful face and losing it.

What is the reason,

why do I remember you like a wound on my heart

what is the reason that I hear your voice when you are so far

and I can't help getting up with excitement?

I kneel down and look at your hands

I want to touch your hands

but I can't

you are behind a glass.

Sweetheart, I am a bewildered spectator of the drama

that I am playing in my twilight.

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