Posts Tagged ‘Nazim Hikmet’

Desmond Painter. Wat beteken vryheid in tye soos hierdie? (Nazim Hikmet)

Friday, July 15th, 2011

Die groot Turkse digter, Nazim Hikmet, is in Thessaloniki gebore — toe hierdie stad nog deel was van die Ottomaanse Ryk. Ek het die afgelope paar weke met ‘n kopie van Hikmet se Selected Poems, in Engelse vertaling, in my rugsak rondgeloop en hom gereeld gelees. Teen die agtergrond van die politieke en ekonomiese krisisse in Griekeland, en die vele protesoptogte wat gedurende my kort verblyf in Hikmet se geboortestad plaasgevind het (die woede, die desperaatheid van veral die werkers en die armes), is hierdie gedig nog net so relevant, nog net so ‘n aanklag, as wat dit was toe dit dekades gelede geskryf is: 

A Sad State of Freedom – deur Nazim Hikmet

 

You waste the attention of your eyes,
the glittering labour of your hands,
and knead the dough enough for dozens of loaves
of which you’ll taste not a morsel;
you are free to slave for others –
you are free to make the rich richer.

The moment you’re born
they plant around you
mills that grind lies
lies to last you a lifetime.
You keep thinking in your great freedom
a finger on your temple
free to have a free conscience.

Your head bent as if half-cut from the nape,
your arms long, hanging,
your saunter about in your great freedom:
you’re free
with the freedom of being unemployed.

You love your country
as the nearest, most precious thing to you.
But one day, for example,
they may endorse it over to America,
and you, too, with your great freedom –
you have the freedom to become an air-base.

You may proclaim that one must live
not as a tool, a number or a link
but as a human being –
then at once they handcuff your wrists.
You are free to be arrested, imprisoned
and even hanged.

There’s neither an iron, wooden
nor a tulle curtain
in your life;
there’s no need to choose freedom:
you are free.
But this kind of freedom
is a sad affair under the stars.

Desmond Painter. Bouvalle en murasies

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

Terug in Stellenbosch na drie weke in Thessaloniki en Istanboel. Die een stad is in Griekeland, die ander een in Turkye. Deesdae. In beide stede word jy egter heeldag gekonfronteer met geskiedenisse en lewende praktyke wat hierdie genasionaliseerde onderskeid, en dalk die idee van die nasie-staat as sodanig, amper ‘quaint’ laat lyk. ‘n Onlangse politieke affektasie. ‘n Verbygaande aanwensel.

Thessaloniki

En in elk geval, Thessaloniki is maar eers in 1913 deur moderne Griekeland geannekseer. Vir baie eeue voor dit was Thessaloniki naas Istanboel (voorheen Konstantinopel) een van die belangrikste stede van eers die Bisantynse en daarna die Ottomaanse ryk. Twee van die twintigste eeu se mees ikoniese Turke, die staatsman Mustafa Atatürk en die digter Nazim Hikmet, was boonop in Thessaloniki gebore.

Beide hierdie stede weerspreek (dikwels teen die sin van hulle heersende elites!) die idee dat homogeniteit, monotaligheid en ander vorme van ‘suiwerheid’ ‘n natuurlike en standhoudende kulturele en politieke staat is; en dat hibriditeit net ‘n modieuse, verbygaande slagspreuk is.

In Thessaloniki bestaan die ou moskees immers nog steeds soos paddastoele in die skaduwee van die woonstelblokke — die Arabiese inskripsies op die mure is verbleik maar nogtans sigbaar. In Istanboel kan jy Christelike ikone en muuskilderye bewonder in kerke wat later moskees geword het. En so kan ‘n mens aangaan: suiwerheid is ‘n illusie, en boonop een wat die werklikheid van kruisbestuiwing en beweging net vir ‘n paar dekades lank kon fnuik.

Bisantynse ikoon, Istanboel

Beide stede word vandag opnuut gediversifiseer en verander deur nuwe aankomelinge — migrante en vlugtelinge uit die Midde-Ooste, uit Afrika, uit Oos-Europa. Deur besigheidsmense en toeriste. Ons ervaar iets van die glorie van hierdie stede in hulle bouvalle en murasies. Waarom dan die tyd wil stol?

Desmond Painter. Terug na Turkye 2 (Nazim Hikmet)

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet is Turkye se beroemdste en waarskynlik belangrikste digter. Hy is in 1902 in Thessaloniki gebore, toe nog deel van die Ottomaanse Ryk (vandag is dit natuurlik deel van Griekeland). Hy was ‘n politieke aktivis (sommige verwys na hom as ‘n “romantiese kommunis” of “romantiese rewolusionêr” — beskrywings waarna elke skrywer myns insiens gerus maar kan streef!) en het lang tye in die tronk en in ballingskap deurgebring. Hy is in 1963 in Moskou oorlede. Sy wens was om onder ‘n plataanboom in enige kleindorpse begraafplaas in Anatolië tot rus te kom, maar daardie wens is tot op hede nog nie geëer nie. Sy Turkse burgerskap, wat in 1959 herroep is, is darem in 2009 herstel. Hier is een van sy pragtige gedigte in Engelse vertaling:

  

 

On Living, deur Nazim Hikmet 

I

Living is no laughing matter:
you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example–
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.
Living is no laughing matter:
you must take it seriously,
so much so and to such a degree
that, for example, your hands tied behind your back,
your back to the wall,
or else in a laboratory
in your white coat and safety glasses,
you can die for people–
even for people whose faces you’ve never seen,
even though you know living
is the most real, the most beautiful thing.
I mean, you must take living so seriously
that even at seventy, for example, you’ll plant olive trees–
and not for your children, either,
but because although you fear death you don’t believe it,
because living, I mean, weighs heavier.

II

Let’s say you’re seriously ill, need surgery–
which is to say we might not get
from the white table.
Even though it’s impossible not to feel sad
about going a little too soon,
we’ll still laugh at the jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest newscast …
Let’s say we’re at the front–
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
we might fall on our face, dead.
We’ll know this with a curious anger,
but we’ll still worry ourselves to death
about the outcome of the war, which could last years.
Let’s say we’re in prison
and close to fifty,
and we have eighteen more years, say,
before the iron doors will open.
We’ll still live with the outside,
with its people and animals, struggle and wind–
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die.

III

This earth will grow cold,
a star among stars
and one of the smallest,
a gilded mote on blue velvet–
I mean this, our great earth.
This earth will grow cold one day,
not like a block of ice
or a dead cloud even
but like an empty walnut it will roll along
in pitch-black space …
You must grieve for this right now
–you have to feel this sorrow now–
for the world must be loved this much
if you’re going to say “I lived” …