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.
You must take living seriously,
I mean 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 have 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.
Let’s say we are seriously ill, need surgery
which is to say we might not get up
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 Bektasi jokes being told,
we’ll look out the window to see if it’s raining,
or still wait anxiously
for the latest political reports.
Let’s say we are at the front
for something worth fighting for, say.
There, in the first offensive, on that very day,
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 might fall on our face, dead.
I mean with the outside beyond the walls.
I mean, however and wherever we are,
we must live as if we will never die…
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 be able say “I lived”…
1947-1948, Nazim Hikmet Ran
Turkish communist poet Nazim Hikmet Ran (1902-1963)