Nazim Hikmet

(1902-1963 / Turkey)

A Spring Piece Left In The Middle


Taut, thick fingers punch
the teeth of my typewriter.
Three words are down on paper
in capitals:
SPRING
SPRING
SPRING...
And me -- poet, proofreader,
the man who's forced to read
two thousand bad lines
every day
for two liras--
why,
since spring
has come, am I
still sitting here
like a ragged
black chair?
My head puts on its cap by itself,
I fly out of the printer's,
I'm on the street.
The lead dirt of the composing room
on my face,
seventy-five cents in my pocket.
SPRING IN THE AIR...

In the barbershops
they're powdering
the sallow cheeks
of the pariah of Publishers Row.
And in the store windows
three-color bookcovers
flash like sunstruck mirrors.
But me,
I don't have even a book of ABC's
that lives on this street
and carries my name on its door!
But what the hell...
I don't look back,
the lead dirt of the composing room
on my face,
seventy-five cents in my pocket,
SPRING IN THE AIR...

*

The piece got left in the middle.
It rained and swamped the lines.
But oh! what I would have written...
The starving writer sitting on his three-thousand-page
three-volume manuscript
wouldn't stare at the window of the kebab joint
but with his shining eyes would take
the Armenian bookseller's dark plump daughter by storm...
The sea would start smelling sweet.
Spring would rear up
like a sweating red mare
and, leaping onto its bare back,
I'd ride it
into the water.
Then
my typewriter would follow me
every step of the way.
I'd say:
"Oh, don't do it!
Leave me alone for an hour..."
then
my head-my hair failing out--
would shout into the distance:
"I AM IN LOVE..."

*

I'm twenty-seven,
she's seventeen.
"Blind Cupid,
lame Cupid,
both blind and lame Cupid
said, Love this girl,"
I was going to write;
I couldn't say it
but still can!
But if
it rained,
if the lines I wrote got swamped,
if I have twenty-five cents left in my pocket,
what the hell...
Hey, spring is here spring is here spring
spring is here!
My blood is budding inside me!


20 and 21 April 1929


Trans. by Randy Blasing and Mutlu Konuk (1993)

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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