|Prison years in Bursa|
Hikmet's imprisonment in the 1940s became a cause célèbre among intellectuals worldwide; a 1949 committee that included Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, and Jean Paul Sartre campaigned for Hikmet's release.
On April 8, 1950, Hikmet commenced hunger strike in protest against the parliament's not including an amnesty law in its agenda before its closing for the upcoming general election. He was then transferred from the prison in Bursa first to the infirmary of Sultanahmet Jail in Istanbul and later to Paşakapısı Prison. Seriously ill, Hikmet ceased his strike on April 23, the National Sovereignty and Children's Day for a while. His doctors requested to treat him in a hospital for three months that was not allowed by the officials. Since his imprisonment status did not change, he resumed hunger strike on the morning of May 2.
His strike created much reaction in the country. Signature campaigns were launched and a magazine named after him was published. His mother Celile began hunger strike on May 9, followed by renowned Turkish poets Orhan Veli, Melih Cevdet and Oktay Rıfat the next day. Upon the new political situation after the 1950 Turkish general election held on May 14, the strike was ended five days later on May 19, the Commemoration of Atatürk, Youth and Sports Day. He was finally released through a general amnesty law enacted by the new government.
On November 22, 1950, the World Council of Peace announced that Nazım Hikmet was among the recipients of the International Peace Prize along with Pablo Picasso, Paul Robeson, Wanda Jakubowska and Pablo Neruda.
Later on, Hikmet escaped from Turkey to Romania on a ship via Black Sea and from there moved to the USSR.
When the upspring of the EOKA struggle took place in Cyprus, Hikmet believed that the population of Cyprus could live together peacefully and called on the Turkish minority to support the Greek Cypriots to achieve the demand of ending the British rule.
Persecuted for decades by the Republic of Turkey during the Cold War for his communist views, Hikmet died of a heart attack in Moscow on June 3, 1963 at 6.30 am while picking up a morning newspaper at the door at his summer house in Peredelkino away from his beloved homeland. He is buried in Moscow's famous Novodevichy Cemetery, where his imposing tombstone is even today a place for pilgrimage by Turks and communists from around the world. His final will was to be buried under a plane-tree (platanus) in any village cemetery in Anatolia, which was never realized.
Despite his persecution by the Turkish state, Nâzım Hikmet was always revered by the Turkish nation. His poems depicting the people of the countryside, villages, towns and cities of his homeland (Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları, i.e. Human Landscape from my Country) as well as the Turkish War of Independence (Kurtuluş Savaşı Destanı, i.e. The Epic of the War of Independence) and the Turkish revolutionaries (Kuvâyi Milliye, i.e. Force of the Nation) are considered among the greatest patriotic literary works in Turkey.
Nazim has Polish and Turkish citizenship. The latter was revoked in 1959, and restored in 2009. His family has been asked if they want his remains repatriated from Russia
|His gravestone at the Novodevichy Cemetery|
Nazım Hikmet's Davet ("Invitation") is one of his best known poems. Nazım tells what he wants, and what life should be like, in the poem's last lines about living "alone and free like a tree" and "in brotherly love like a forest".
Galloping from the Far East
reaching to the Mediterranean like a mare head.
this country is ours.
Wrists in blood, teeth clenched, feet bare
and like a silk carpet this land,
this hell, this heaven is ours.
Let the alien doors be closed, let them not open again,
abolish man's servitude to man,
this invitation is ours.
To live like a tree in solitude and free
and like a forest in solidarity,
this yearning is ours.
Nazım Hikmet (1902–1963)