Invitation

Galloping from Far Asia and jutting out
into the Mediterranean like a mare’s head
this country is ours.

Wrists in blood, teeth clenched, feet bare
and this soil spreading like a silk carpet,
this hell, this paradise is ours.

Shut the gates of plutocracy, don’t let them open again,
annihilate man’s servitude to man,
this invitation is ours.

To live like a tree single and at liberty
and brotherly like the trees of a forest,
this yearning is ours.

— Nâzim Hikmet

Turkish poet Nâzim Hikmet was a dedicated leftist and a member of the Communist Party of Turkey. He spent much of World War I in Russia. When he returned to Turkey in 1924, he was a regular contributor to the Communist magazine Aydinlik. His poems and articles earned him a fifteen-year prison sentence, but he fled to Moscow before he could be jailed. He returned to Turkey in 1928, but in 1932 was sentenced to four years in prison for his work on the magazine Resimli Ay (Illustrated Monthly), a cosmopolitan literary magazine. He was pardoned in 1933, but arrested again in 1938 and given a 28-year sentence. He was eventually moved to house arrest, out which he escaped to Moscow. His Turkey citizenship was revoked in 1951.

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