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Since I’ve Been In Jail - Poem by Nazim Hikmet

Since I've been in jail
the world has turned around the sun ten times
And if you ask the earth, it will say:
'It's not worth mentioning,
a microscopic time.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's ten years of my life.'
I had a pencil
the year I came to jail.
It wore out in a week from writing.
And if you ask the pencil, it will say:
'A whole life.'
And if you ask me, I will say:
'It's nothing, a mere week.'
Osman who was jailed for murder
completed a seven-year stretch and left
since I've been in jail.
He wandered around outside for a while,
and then got jailed again for smuggling.
He served a six-month term and left again,
and yesterday a letter came saying he's married
and a child will be born in the spring.
Now they're ten years old
the children who fell from their mothers' womb
that year I came to jail,
And the colts of that year who had long thin shaky legs
have long since become docile broad-rumped mares.
But the olive shoots are still shoots
and they're still children.
New squares have opened up in my distant city
since I've been in jail.
And our family
is living in a house I've never seen
on a street I don't know.
The bread was pure white, like cotton,
the year I came to jail.
Later it was rationed out,
And we here on the inside beat one another
for a piece of black crust the size of a fist.
Now it's free again,
But brown and tasteless.
The year I came to jail
The Second One had just begun.
The ovens in Dachau Camp were not yet lit,
The atom bomb was not yet hurled upon Hiroshima.
Time flowed like the blood of a child with his throat cut.
Later that chapter was officially closed,
Now American dollars are talking about a Third.
But in spite of everything, the days have brightened
since I've been in jail,
And about half of them
'put their heavy hands on the pavement
and on the edge of darkness
straightened up.'
Since I've been in jail
the world has turned around the sun ten times.
And again I repeat with the same passion
what I wrote for them
the year I came to jail:
'They
whose number is as great
as ants on the earth
fish in the water
birds in the sky
are fearful and brave
ignorant and learned
and they are children,
And they
who destroy and create
it is only their adventure in these songs.'
And for the rest,
for example, my lying here for ten years,
it's nothing...
Nazim Hikmet

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Urdu Poetry

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