The World, My Friends, My Enemies, You, and the Earth
Nazim Hikmet


Nazim Hikmet
(1902-1963) Tukey

Modern Turkey's best-known poet, Nazim Hikmet [na zim' hik met'] began publishing his verse when he was sixteen. After attending school in the European part of Turkey, Hikmet worked as a teacher in the Asian part of Turkey, now called Anatolia. His early poems show his deep admiration for Anatolia's peasants. Always politically active, Hikmet made forceful attacks on Turkish government policies that led to his arrest in 1938. He spent over ten years in prison and wrote some of his finest verse, including the following poem, during that time.





The World, My Friends, My Enemies, You, and the Earth
Nazim Hikmet


TransIated from the Turkish by Randy Biasing and Mutlu Konuk


I'm wonderfully happy I came into the world,
I love its earth, its light, its struggle, and its bread
Even though I know its dimensions from pole to pole to the
centimeter,
and while I'm not unaware that it's a mere toy next to the sun,
the world for me is unbelievably big.
I would have liked to go around the world
and see the fish, the fruits, and the stars that I haven't seen.
However,
I made my European trip only in books and pictures.
In all my life I never got one letter
with its blue stamp canceled in Asia.
Me and our corner grocer,
we're both mightily unknown in America.

Nevertheless,
from China to Spain, from the Cape of Good Hope to Alaska,
in every nautical mile, in every kilometer, I have friends and
enemies.
Such friends that we haven't met even once-
we can die for the same bread, the same freedom, the same
dream.
And such enemies that they're thirsty for my blood,
I am thirsty for their blood.
My strength
is that I'm not alone in this big world.
The world and   its people are no secret in my heart,
no mystery in my science.
Calmly and openly
I took my place
in the great struggle.
And without it,
You and the earth
are not enough for me.
And yet you are astonishingly beautiful,
the earth is warm and beautiful.



STUDY QUESTIONS

Recalling(the Lines)

1.      According to the first seven lines, what does the
speaker love about the world? What would he have
liked to do and see?
2.      Where does the speaker have friends and enemies
whom he has never met? What do the speaker and his
friends have in common?
3.      What does the speaker say is his strength? What does
he say about the "great struggle"?

Interpreting(Between the Lines)

4.      What attitude toward the world does the poem convey?
5.      What might the speaker mean by the "great struggle"?
What sort of people does he feel are his friends? His
enemies?
6.      Is this in any way a love poem? Explain.

Extending(Beyond the Lines)

7.      How does the speaker’s passion for “the great struggle” provide a voice to today’s freedom fighters or suicide bombers in the Middle East?