"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!
"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.