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On Living Analysis



Author: poem of Nazim Hikmet Type: poem Views: 11

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                        I



Living is no laughing matter:

        you must live with great seriousness

                like a squirrel, for example--

        I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,

                I mean living must be your whole occupation.

Living is no laughing matter:

        you must take it seriously,

        so much so and to such a degree

      that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,

                                your back to the wall,

        or else in a laboratory

                in your white coat and safety glasses,

                you can die for people--

             even for people whose faces you've never seen,

             even though you know living

                is the most real, the most beautiful thing.

        I mean, you must take living so seriously

             that even at seventy, for example, you'll plant olive trees--

             and not for your children, either,

             but because although you fear death you don't believe it,

             because living, I mean, weighs heavier.



                          

                          II



Let's say you're seriously ill, need surgery--

which is to say we might not get

                    from the white table.

Even though it's impossible not to feel sad

                    about going a little too soon,

we'll still laugh at the jokes being told,

we'll look out the window to see it's raining,

or still wait anxiously

                    for the latest newscast ...

Let's say we're at the front--

          for something worth fighting for, say.

There, in the first offensive, on that very day,

          we might fall on our face, dead.

We'll know this with a curious anger,

    but we'll still worry ourselves to death

    about the outcome of the war, which could last years.

Let's say we're in prison

and close to fifty,

and we have eighteen more years, say,

                   before the iron doors will open.

We'll still live with the outside,

with its people and animals, struggle and wind--

                      I mean with the outside beyond the walls.

I mean, however and wherever we are,

    we must live as if we will never die.





                        III



This earth will grow cold,

a star among stars

         and one of the smallest,

a gilded mote on blue velvet--

         I mean this, our great earth.

This earth will grow cold one day,

not like a block of ice

or a dead cloud even

but like an empty walnut it will roll along

         in pitch-black space ...

You must grieve for this right now

--you have to feel this sorrow now--

for the world must be loved this much

                    if you're going to say "I lived" ...







Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)






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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

.: :.

This poem was written by Nazim Hikmet when he was in prison for a twenty-eight year sentence. This poem is inspirational to me. It is written in three parts. The first part addresses the seriousness of life: \"you must live with great seriousness like a squirrel, for example --\" (line 2-3). The second part deals with hope and commitment and relates directly to his time in prison. \"Let\'s say we\'re in prison and close to fifty, and we have eighteen more years, say, before the iron doors will open. We\'ll still live with the outside, with its people and animals, struggle and wind--\" (line 38-43). The third part deals with the universe, with our worriness for the earth which \"will grow cold one day, not like a block of ice or a dead cloud even but like an empty walnut it will roll along in pitch-black space . . . You must grieve for this right now --you have to feel this sorrow now-- for the world must be loved this much if you\'re going to say \'I lived\'...\" (line 52-60).

| Posted on 2011-02-15 | by a guest




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