Nâzım Hikmet Ran is known around the world as one of the greatest of poets. By universal agreement he is most sophisticated poet of Turkish language. His poetry has been translated into dozens of foreigner languages. His life story is tragic. He was repeatedly arrested for his political beliefs besides that he spent thirteen years in prisons and another thirteen years more in exile. His ideas were far from simple and he was interested in everything on earth. Turkish poetry master Nâzım Hikmet was awarded the World Peace Prize in 1950, which he shared with Paul Robeson and Pablo Neruda. Two years later he became administrator of World Peace Council. Although restricted knowledge exists for the exact day but it’s known that Nâzım Hikmet has been in Havana to deliver World Peace Prize to Fidel Castro in 1961.
Nâzım Hikmet’s life story began in Thessaloniki, where was then part of Ottoman Empire, in 1902. His father was government official and his mother was a lady who spoke French, played piano and painted pictures. The environment of his family helped Nâzım Hikmet received a good education. He studied at the Galatasaray Lycee in Istanbul and attended the Heybeliada Naval Academy. However he started writing poems under influence of his poet grandfather who belonged Mevlevi Tariqa when he was 14 years old. His love of nature and admiration for Mevlana showed up at his beginning verses. He became known as a promising poet during his two year study at Naval Academy. After the Allied occupation of Istanbul, Nâzım Hikmet left Istanbul for Anatolia in order to join anti–imperialist resistance movement led by Mustafa Kemal. He was appointed to Bolu Province as a teacher but his passionate and adventurous character didn’t let him to stay there for a long time. He made his way to Batumi and the following year he reached Moscow where he witnessed the foundation of Soviet Union. He studied at Communist University of Eastern Labourers. He learnt Russian language which helped him to meet the young Soviet poets under influence of Futurism. Despite writing his first poems in syllabic meter Nâzım Hikmet came under influence of Futurism and started to write more free verses.
Nâzım Hikmet returned to his home in 1924 after Mustafa Kemal’s new Turkish Republic was founded. One year later he was sentenced to 15 years in prison. He saw no other ways so he fled to Soviet Union. After the Amnesty Law at 1928 he returned again to Turkey.
To live! Like a tree alone and free,
Like a forest in brotherhood.
Nâzım Hikmet Ran
Nâzım Hikmet published nine books between 1928 and 1935. He also published several plays and novels. Although his reputation as new major poet of modern Turkey, Nâzım Hikmet continued to suffer the rage of Turkish state. In 1938 he was accused of organizing revolts soon after he was sentenced to 28 years of imprisonment.
Nâzım Hikmet wrote his greatest lyrics in prison. Piraye İçin Yazılmış Saat 21-22 Şiirleri (Poems of 21-22 Hours Written for Piraye), Piraye’ye Rubailer (Rubaie for Piraye), Ferhad ile Şirin (Ferhad and Şirin) and Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları (Human Landscapes from My Country) are his well-known works from his prison times.
In 1949 Tristan Tzara and Louis Aragon started an international campaign for Nâzım Hikmet’s release in Paris. One year later Democratic Party came into power in Turkey after decades of single party rule of CHP and Adnan Menderes of Democratic Party, was the prime minister, declared general amnesty. After twelve years of his sentence, the romantic communist was free. Nâzım Hikmet was awarded the World Peace Prize in Warsaw in the same year, which he shared with Paul Robeson and Pablo Neruda.
In the following video you will discover the inhumanity of war against to the children with the scenes from all over the world; Nâzım Hikmet describes his hopes that wars will end forever.
Nâzım Hikmet had fallen in love with Münevver Berk who had regularly come to see him last two years of his imprisonment. He divorced Piraye Hanım and started to live with Münevver Berk. They had son in 1951 and they named him Mehmet. At the same time Nâzım Hikmet was called up for military service at the age of 49. He understood that he had no chance to live in Turkey. One day he escaped across the Bosporus in a tiny motor boat by the help of her wife’s brother. He passed in Rumanian cargo ship after the ship’s captain had received approval from Bucharest. Adnan Menderes government declared Nâzım Hikmet as a traitor and he was stripped of his Turkish citizenship. After several governments have served in the country since that decision was taken, Nâzım Hikmet was given back his citizenship in 2009, ridiculously, by Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
When Nâzım Hikmet reached Moscow, he felt very disappointed. He found Moscow very changed. Soviet Union had already lost the revolution excitement, the power of the proletarian had already passed into Stalin’s hand. When Nâzım Hikmet asked about his old friend, he learnt that they all suffered the rage of Stalin who was ruling the Soviet Union by one-man dictatorship. In 1952 he became an administrators of the World Peace Council and his new position rescued him staying in Moscow. He travelled widely and attended meetings in several countries.
Nâzım Hikmet stayed for three months in the Barvikha Sanatorium because of the pains in his chest. Nâzım Hikmet and Dr. Galina who had fallen love with Nâzım Hikmet met there. Nâzım Hikmet didn’t leave her love unanswered. When he left hospital, Dr. Galina was assigned to be the special doctor of the poet. In 1955 something unexpected happened. Nâzım Hikmet experienced a new love storm for Vera Tulyakova. They ended their relation by marriage on 18 November 1960.
Nâzım Hikmet met his family in Warsaw after he married Vera Tulyakova. The meeting didn’t pass well. Münevver had already known Vera who was also unhappy about the events happening around her. Nâzım Hikmet decided to keep his family and Vera away. He left his family in Poland and returned to Moscow. He never saw them again.
A Soviet Union passport which he has been expecting for many years was given to him in January 1962. Nâzım Hikmet didn’t abstain from participating in the meetings in Prague, Berlin and Bucharest in the same year although his health was getting worse every day. After he returned to Moscow at the end of April, he wrote the poem named “Cenaze Merasimim” (My Funeral Rite). Turkish master poet died of a heart attack at his house in Moscow on the morning of 3 June 1963. He was buried in the Novodeviciy Cemetery with a ceremony held by the Authors Union.