On His Poetry
THE YEARS OF PRISON
Nâzım Hikmet was arrested for the crime “provoking army to rebellion” in 1938 and condemned punishment of prison 28 years and 4 months, during approximately 13 years in prison till he remained free with the forgiveness law in 1950, he wrote his masterpieces which raised his poems to summit, and provided him to be well-known in all over the world.
The works of this term spent in Istanbul, Ankara, Çankırı and Bursa Prisons, can be gathered in two inferior titles according to their forms of novelization:
Kuvayi Milliye Destani (The Epic of Independence War) : Written in Istanbul, Çankırı and Bursa Prisons between 1939 and 1941. The Epic of Independence War consists of a prologue and 8 parts. In every part, a story about the war is told. Those whose stories are told mostly are the nameless heroes of the war. The general view of country has been shown by the characters chosen from the different sections of society. The expression is soft suitably to the story technique and a slight harmony supplied by half rhymes is dominant. Even historical information, statistical numbers, tool material lists and geographical information can’t disrupt the text’s feature of being poem.
Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları (Human Landscapes from My Homeland) : He started this project he named “Meshur Adamlar Ansiklopedisi” (Encyclopedia of the Famous People) on September in 1940. He told stories of ordinary people just like as he told about ordinary people on Kuvayi Milliye Destani (The Epic of Independence War) instead of the heroes and generals of war. He would try to describe different people’s lives, environments, things they do by poem as if he is writing a kind of dictionary or an encyclopedia article.
His aim while doing this was to develop limits of poem which was “the biggest and the most perfect and the most engaging of literature model” as he believed and to deliver it from ordinary models.
At the beginning of his prison years, his start to work on love poems, Kurtulus Savaşı destanı (Epic of Independence War) and encyclopedia at the same time, and also his being very successful in writing poems on all of them, opened the ways for Nâzım Hikmet to reach to work of art he had missed.
He succeed to fit all dimensions of himself, his country, his time, the work of art into Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları (Human Landscapes from My Homeland) which is 537 pages totally and he worked about it till he came out in 1950.
Memleketimden İnsan Manzaralari (Human Landscapes from My Homeland) was an extraordinary work of art by using all kind of arts, not only poem but also novel, story scenario, theatre, interview etc. and including them into poem, being able to use lyric, epic, dramatic, different expression possibilities together at the same time and being unique in either Turkish Literature or world literature with all these features it carries.
b- LYRIC POEMS
Nâzım Hikmet wrote lots of poems in his first prison years beginning with 1938. He wrote almost no free poems between 1942 and 1944 since he gave all his interest to Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları (Human Landscapes from My Homeland). He wrote lots of lyric poems along with his big work of art beginning with 1945. He himself planned how to gather these poems as a book.
Dört Hapishaneden (From The Four Prisons) : A book formed by combining his individual poems mostly written between 1939 and 1941. Besides the themes like tragedy of being in Prison, the problems of world and country, love; he also handles the adventures of the people he met in prison, on his poems. Among these products where traditional story formats and modern poetry get masterly together, we strike upon a lot of his famous poems like Fevkalade Memnunum Dünyaya Geldigime (I pleased very much that I was Born), Bugün Pazar (Today is Sunday), Turk Koylusu (Turk Peasant), Memleketimi Seviyorum (I love my country), etc.