Sunday, October 30, 2016

Some Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison by Nazim Hikmet

Some Advice to Those Who Will Serve Time in Prison

If instead of being hanged by the neck
            you’re thrown inside
            for not giving up hope
in the world, your country, and people,
            if you do ten or fifteen years
            apart from the time you have left,
you won’t say,
                        “Better I had swung from the end of a rope
                                                                        like a flag”—
you’ll put your foot down and live.
It may not be a pleasure exactly,
but it’s your solemn duty
            to live one more day
                                    to spite the enemy.
Part of you may live alone inside,
                        like a stone at the bottom of a well.
But the other part
            must be so caught up
            in the flurry of the world
              that you shiver there inside
      when outside, at forty days’ distance, a leaf moves.
To wait for letters inside,
to sing sad songs,
or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling
                               is sweet but dangerous.
Look at your face from shave to shave,
forget your age,
watch out for lice
                        and for spring nights,
        and always remember
               to eat every last piece of bread—
also, don’t forget to laugh heartily.
And who knows,
the woman you love may stop loving you.
Don’t say it’s no big thing:
it’s like the snapping of a green branch
                                              to the man inside.
To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without rest,
and I also advise weaving
and making mirrors.
I mean, it’s not that you can’t pass
         ten or fifteen years inside
                                        and more—
                you can,
                as long as the jewel
                on the left side of your chest doesn’t lose its luster!

(Tanslated by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk)


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