Nazim Hikmet

(1902-1963 / Turkey)

Hymn To Life

Poem by Nazim Hikmet

The hair falling on your forehead
suddenly lifted.
Suddenly something stirred on the ground.
The trees are whispering
in the dark.
Your bare arms will be cold.

Far off
where we can't see,
the moon must be rising.
It hasn't reached us yet,
slipping through the leaves
to light up your shoulder.
But I know
a wind comes up with the moon.
The trees are whispering.
Your bare arms will be cold.

From above,
from the branches lost in the dark,
something dropped at your feet.
You moved closer to me.
Under my hand your bare flesh is like the fuzzy skin of a fruit.
Neither a song of the heart nor "common sense"--
before the trees, birds, and insects,
my hand on my wife's flesh
is thinking.
Tonight my hand
can't read or write.
Neither loving nor unloving...
It's the tongue of a leopard at a spring,
a grape leaf,
a wolf's paw.
To move, breathe, eat, drink.
My hand is like a seed
splitting open underground.
Neither a song of the heart nor "common sense,"
neither loving nor unloving.
My hand thinking on my wife's flesh
is the hand of the first man.
Like a root that finds water underground,
it says to me:
"To eat, drink, cold, hot, struggle, smell, color--
not to live in order to die
but to die to live..."

And now
as red female hair blows across my face,
as something stirs on the ground,
as the trees whisper in the dark,
and as the moon rises far off
where we can't see,
my hand on my wife's flesh
before the trees, birds, and insects,
I want the right of life,
of the leopard at the spring, of the seed splitting open--
I want the right of the first man.


Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)


Comments about Hymn To Life by Nazim Hikmet

  • Susan WilliamsSusan Williams (4/18/2018 8:24:00 PM)

    Powerful. Propelled by intellect, fueled by passion, infused with beautiful poetry!(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Glen KappyGlen Kappy (4/18/2018 7:07:00 AM)

    The different metaphors and similies for his hand and speaking of the right of the first man fascinate me and make me think of the desire to come to the experience of intimacy totally fresh, feeling fully and exquisitely. -GK(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Lantz PierreLantz Pierre (4/18/2018 6:53:00 AM)

    What an incredible knot of power, of vitality, is created by succumbing, by a passive inversion of the universe. The release of all is the inclusion of everything. The desire not of a stone, no personification, no willful interference of human consciousness to change what is fact. To fall in line with an inward perfection perceived. Love is like this. Life is like love. Facts best rhapsodized without defilement of need. Glorious in the exactitude of their existence. Nothing more nor less.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Hassan HayatiHassan Hayati (4/18/2018 4:30:00 AM)

    very nice poem reminds me of Persian poems said by Hafiz, his imaginative words are fantastic.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (4/18/2018 4:22:00 AM)

    Tonight my hand
    can't read or write.
    Neither loving nor unloving...
    It's the tongue of a leopard at a spring,
    a grape leaf,
    a wolf's paw........touching expression with nice theme. Beautiful poem presented.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Anil Kumar PandaAnil Kumar Panda (11/25/2016 9:42:00 AM)

    I want the right of life,
    of the leopard at the spring, of the seed splitting open-
    I want the right of the first man.... is really very nice. Like to read again and again. Thanks for sharing.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Subhas Chandra ChakraSubhas Chandra Chakra (11/25/2016 4:44:00 AM)

    Far off
    where we can't see,
    the moon must be rising.
    It hasn't reached us yet,
    slipping through the leaves
    to light up your shoulder.
    An artistic approach to nature.
    10 for it.
    Subhas(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi LouisEdward Kofi Louis (11/25/2016 2:37:00 AM)

    As the moon rises far off! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (11/25/2016 1:51:00 AM)

    Far off
    where we can't see,
    the moon must be rising.
    It hasn't reached us yet

    Thanks for sharing.....(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Leslie SharpLeslie Sharp (10/28/2014 12:11:00 AM)

    This is a lonely poem *love* I wish more man in life would realize how they should love and less abuse ran rapid.. I believe there is someone for everyone even if sometimes we don't feel like it.(Report)Reply

    4 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
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Read poems about / on: moon, spring, dark, hair, song, red, water, lost, wind, life, light, heart, tree, rose



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003