Wednesday, January 25, 2012

For Real Toads: Nazim Hikmet

Kenia introduces the writers' group Imaginary Garden with Real Toads to the person and the works of Turkish poet/revolutionary/martyr Nazim Hikmet.

"Hikmet's imprisonment in the 1940s became a cause célèbre among intellectuals worldwide; a 1949 committee that included Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, and Jean Paul Sartre campaigned for Hikmet's release.
“On November 22, 1950, the World Council of Peace announced that Nazım Hikmet was among the recipients of the International Peace Prize along with Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, Wanda Jakubowska and Pablo Neruda." (Wikipedia)
I'm a lifelong fan of the great American singer Paul Robeson, who was exiled during the McCarthy era. Hikmet's connection to him, and the fact that Robeson sang a translation of Hikmet's poem "The Little Girl" (as did Pete Seeger, Joan Baez and many others) made me feel an instant connection with Hikmet who was unknown to me until now. Thanks for the introduction, Kenia!
Wikipedia photo
"Nazım Hikmet's Davet ("Invitation") is one of his best known poems. Nazım tells what he wants, and what life should be like, in the poem's last lines about living 'alone and free like a tree' and 'in brotherly love like a forest'." (Wikipedia)
I found myself intrigued by the structure of this poem "Invitation" and have here attempted something using that form and borrowing something of the wording. As I wrote, I had in mind the first pioneers to cross Canada from east to west.

Opening up the land toward the far west
Beaver, buffalo, bad weather, to reach perhaps the Pacific 
this land is ours.
Losing oxen, horses, children, wives,
as we continue on toward the wild unknown,
to call this land ours.
High mountains, rocky mountains, impassable,
yet await after we cross the wide prairie,
to make this land ours.
To move like a salmon in a stream, like an eagle on high,
To follow the rivers rushing toward the sea,
to open this land of ours. 


Kerry O'Connor said...

This is a remarkable piece of poetry, Kay. Such a delicate touch in bringing that pioneering spirit to the fore.

Laurie Kolp said...

Kay- Beautiful... I just love how you can read your piece as two separate poems or as one.

hedgewitch said...

The separation of verse from refrain makes this seem very song like, and the whole poem is very immediate in its imagery, direct in its storytelling. Enjoyed your introduction as well.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Oh well done, Kay. I must say I warmed to the prompt. But after reading the fantastic reponses, am wondering if I will be able to manage it after all. Love your choice of topic here.

Marian said...

you could sing this, like woody guthrie. i'd like to hear that.

Kay L. Davies said...

@ Marian — Much as I loved Woody Guthrie, I couldn't sing a thing, but I appreciate your confidence in my poem!

Susie Clevenger said...

The glory and wonder of the pioneer spirit that had them seek the unknown...nice work!

Fireblossom said...

I like Robeson's recording of "Curly Headed Baby."

Margaret said...

They pushed on, no matter the hardship, with hope for a better future. You really created a wonderful homage to the pioneer spirit!