Poetry Corner: The Strangest Creature on Earth by Nâzım Hikmet

The Strangest Creature on Earth by Nâzım Hikmet, 1947

The Turkish communist poet Nazim Hikmet was noted to distinguish lyric poems, dedicated to love, from epic poems, dedicated to the action of the popular masses. Here we feature The Strangest Creature on Earth.


Nâzım Hikmet, 1902 – 1963

You’re like a scorpion, my brother,

you live in cowardly darkness

    like a scorpion.

You’re like a sparrow, my brother,

always in a sparrow’s flutter.

You’re like a clam, my brother,

closed like a clam, content,

And you’re frightening, my brother,

    like the mouth of an extinct volcano.

Not one,

not five-

unfortunately, you number millions.

You’re like a sheep, my brother:

    when the cloaked drover raises his stick,

      you quickly join the flock

and run, almost proudly, to the slaughterhouse.

I mean you’re strangest creature on earth-

even stranger than the fish

  that couldn’t see the ocean for the water.

And the oppression in this world

      is thanks to you.

And if we’re hungry, tired, covered with blood,

and still being crushed like grapes for our wine,

          the fault is yours-

I can hardly bring myself to say it, but most of the fault, my dear brother, is yours.

Nâzım Hikmet

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