Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet was a Turkish poet, playwright and novelist who lived from 1902 to 1963. He fought in 2 wars and spent some of his years in Russia. In Turkey, he was imprisoned (and tortured) for his political views numerous times, but he loved his homeland deeply. His writing is beloved by the Turks and Kurds alike- it portrays their land and lives and struggles with beauty and deep emotion.

Hikmet’s writing called people to political action and this courage was very influential. The World Council of Peace awarded him the International Peace Prize in 1950 along with Pablo Neruda and others. Hikmet died in exile in Russia.

Excerpts are often taken from the lengthy poem “Saat 21-22 siirleri(Poems of 9-10 o’clock) also called “Poems for Piraye” 1945. In The Word Not Spoken we see the character Ahmet sing the words to Leigh. As well, of course, the title The Word Not Spoken comes from the poem and has political and personal echoes.

This is the version in The Word Not Spoken, reprinted with permission from Hikmet’s heirs and publisher:

At this late hour
in this autumn night,
I am full of your words,
eternal as time and matter
naked as an eye,
heavy as a hand,
words clear and shining as stars.

Your words come to me
from your heart,
your head,
your body.
Your words deliver you,
Your words are sad,
Your words are human.

I read a book:
you are in it.
I listen to a song:
you are in it.
I sit down to eat my bread.
you’re sitting facing me.

You are my silent partner everywhere.
We can’t talk together;
we can’t hear each others’ voices.
You are my widow of eight years.

The best sea has yet to be crossed.
The best child has yet to be born.
The best day has yet to be lived.
And the best word that I wanted to say to you
is the word that I have not yet spoken.

Nazim Hikmet (translated)
Excerpts from “Poems for Piraye
(9 to 10 O’clock Poems)”.

The poem can be read in its entirety at