Nâzım Hikmet (1902-1963) was a Turkish poet for whom the idea of home was a poignant one. An idealist and revolutionary living in a turbulent time, he spent much of his life in exile or in prison, and many of his poems are redolent of loss and longing. Although anchored in his particular place and time, his poetry touches on universal themes, and has been translated into dozens of languages. A member of the Hiraeth team had been acquainted with Hikmet’s poetry in the German translation, and based on that translation a few of us collaborated to render the poem into an English form.
Ours is a paraphrase, offered with respect and gratitude as an homage to a poet who put the feeling of hiraeth into elegaic verse that speaks to us across languages, cultures, and time. We asked a friend, Fariborz Zelli, to record the poem for us, and here is the result.
My homeland, my homeland, my homeland
no longer have I a cap made of you
nor a shoe that carries your soil
you remain only in the grey of my hair
in the failing of my heart
in the lines of my brow
Fariborz Zelli, our reader, is director of the NAVIGOV project. He received the outstanding Ph.D. thesis award of the University of Tübingen and the award for outstanding teaching performance of the German state of Baden-Württemberg.
You can read the poem and hear a beautiful audio rendition in the original Turkish here.