Sharing a poem from prison

Susan received this poem from her friend Eda Uca-Dorn, who writes:

“I wanted you to have this poem by the turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, who wrote the Hiroshima Child song we sing and who is my maternal grandmother’s favorite poet and who served time in prison for writing dangerous poetry.”

Some Advice to those Who Will Serve Time in Prison

If instead of being hanged by the neck

you’re thrown inside

for not giving up hope

in the world, your country, and people,

if you do ten or fifteen years

apart from the time you have left,

you won’t say,

“Better I had swung from the end of a rope

like a flag”–

you’ll put your foot down and live.

It may not be a pleasure exactly,

but it’s your solemn duty

to live one more day

to spite the enemy.

Part of you may live alone inside,

like a stone at the bottom of a well.

But the other part

must be so caught up

in the flurry of the world

that you shiver there inside

when outside, at forty days’ distance, a leaf moves.

To wait for letters inside,

to sing sad songs,

or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling

is sweet but dangerous.

Look at your face from shave to shave,

forget your age,

watch out for lice

and for spring nights,

and always remember

to eat every last piece of bread–

also, don’t forget to laugh heartily.

And who knows,

the woman you love may stop loving you.

Don’t say it’s no big thing:

it’s like the snapping of a green branch

to the man inside.

To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,

to think of seas and mountains is good.

Read and write without rest,

and I also advise weaving

and making mirrors.

I mean, it’s not that you can’t pass

ten or fifteen years inside

and more–

you can,

as long as the jewel

on the left side of your chest doesn’t lose its luster

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