The Art of Marxism: poetry

Letter to My Wife

by Nāzım Hikmet Ran


          Bursa Prison

My one and only!

Your last letter says:

"My head is throbbing,

  my heart is stunned!"

You say:

"If they hang you,

  if I lose you,

    I'll die!"

You'll live, my dear-

my memory will vanish like black smoke in the wind.

Of course you'll live, red-haired lady of my heart:

in the twentieth century

    grief lasts

      at most a year.


a body swinging from a rope.

My heart

  can't accept such a death.


you can bet

if some poor gypsy's hairy black

  spidery hand

    slips a noose

    around my neck,

they'll look in vain for fear

    in Nazim's

      blue eyes!

In the twilight of my last morning


will see my friends and you,

and I'll go

to my grave

  regretting nothing but an unfinished song...

My wife!



eyes sweeter than honey-my bee!

Why did I write you

    they want to hang me?

The trial has hardly begun,

and they don't just pluck a man's head

      like a turnip.

Look, forget all this.

If you have any money,

  buy me some flannel underwear:

my sciatica is acting up again.

And don't forget,

a prisoner's wife

  must always think good thoughts.