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Some Advice To Those Who Will Serve Time In Prison

Nazim Hikmet

If instead of being hanged by the neck
          you're thrown inside
          for not giving up hope
in the world, your country, your 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 tone 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 it's luster!

                              May 1949

Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993) 

Added: 16 Jan 2002 | Last Read: 19 Oct 2018 5:25 PM | Viewed: 5400 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/2431/ | Viewed on 19 October 2018.
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