‘Hiroshima Child’ a poem by Nazim Hikmet

Hiroshima Child

 

‘Hiroshima Child’

I come and stand at every door
But none can hear my silent tread
I knock and yet remain unseen
For I am dead for I am dead

I’m only seven though I died
In Hiroshima long ago
I’m seven now as I was then
When children die they do not grow

My hair was scorched by swirling flame
My eyes grew dim my eyes grew blind
Death came and turned my bones to dust
And that was scattered by the wind

I need no fruit I need no rice
I need no sweets nor even bread
I ask for nothing for myself
For I am dead for I am dead

All that I need is that for peace
You fight today you fight today
So that the children of this world
Can live and grow and laugh and play

-a poem by Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet 1

Nazim Hikmet did not have a direct connection to the bombing of Hiroshima during World War II that happened 72 years ago this week. This poem has struck a chord, as there are many moving versions of the poem available on YouTube.

Below is the version created by Turkish pianist and composer Fazil Say. He set this poem to music.

 

Nazim Hikmet is known as Turkey’s foremost poet of the twentieth century. His poems have been translated into fifty languages. He was born in 1902 in Salonica, Ottoman Empire (now Thessaloníki, Greece). He attended the Naval Academy and then went to university in Moscow where he was attracted to Marxist ideology. In 1951, he left Turkey forever after a long jail sentence for radical activity. In total, he spent over 17 years of his life in prison. Other famous works include ‘Human Landscapes From My Country,’ ‘The Epic of Shaykh Bedreddin,’ and ‘On Living.’

Fazil Say is the son of musicologist Ahmet Say. Fazil established a substantial dual career as a pianist and composer during the 1990s. As a performer, he has won numerous competitions and has performed with some of the finest orchestras worldwide. He is also active as a jazz pianist and regularly performs at international jazz festivals. His compositions have been broadly performed and recorded. His list of compositions is long and rich, among most famous works include ‘Istanbul Symphony’ and ‘Nazim Oratorio.’

2 thoughts on “‘Hiroshima Child’ a poem by Nazim Hikmet

  1. Thanks for reminding this beautiful poem on this sad day and introducing one of the most important literary and intellectual figures in Turkish history, Karen. Turkey owes a life to Nazim Hikmet.

    He wrote another poem for Hiroshima titled “The Japanese Fisherman”.

    Like you said, there are many musical versions of this poem. The one below is probably the most well-known version in Turkey by another poet/author/musician, Zulfu Livaneli, who set many poems by Nazim Hikmet to music.

    I also would like to share the Turkish poem here for those who can read Turkish:

    Kız Çocuğu

    Kapıları çalan benim
    kapıları birer birer.
    Gözünüze görünemem
    göze görünmez ölüler.

    Hiroşima’da öleli
    oluyor bir on yıl kadar.
    Yedi yaşında bir kızım,
    büyümez ölü çocuklar.

    Saçlarım tutuştu önce,
    gözlerim yandı kavruldu.
    Bir avuç kül oluverdim,
    külüm havaya savruldu.

    Benim sizden kendim için
    hiçbir şey istediğim yok.
    Şeker bile yiyemez ki
    kâat gibi yanan çocuk.

    Çalıyorum kapınızı,
    teyze, amca, bir imza ver.
    Çocuklar öldürülmesin
    şeker de yiyebilsinler.

    (1956)

    Like

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