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Nâzım Hikmet was born on 21 November 1901 in Salonica, but his birth was certified as 15 January 1902 in order to prevent his age appearing older by a year older on account of 40 days. He died on 3 June 1963 in Moscow.
His paternal grandfather Nâzım Pasha the governor was a liberal and a poet. He belonged to Mevlevi Mysticism. He was a close friend to Mithat Pasha. His father, Hikmet was graduated from Mekteb-i Sultani (later the Galatasaray Lycée). He firstly dealt with trade but when he had been unsuccessful in that area, he became a civil servant at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Kalem-i Ecnebiye).
His mother was the daughter of Enver Pasha who was a linguist and an educator. Celile Hanım spoke French, played the piano and painted pictures as well as an artist.
His family environment, with its progressive thoughts, had tremendous effect on the education of Nâzım Hikmet. He was first trained at a school where the language of instruction was French and later attended the Numune Mektep (Taş Mektep) in Göztepe in Istanbul. After graduating primary school, he attended the prep class of the Mekteb-i Sultani with his friend, Vâlâ Nurettin. The year after, because of the financial strait in which his family found themselves, he changed his school to the Nişantaşı Junior High School.
In this period, with the influence of his grandfather, he started to write poetry. During a family meeting, Cemal Pasha, the Minister of the Navy, evinced to very much moved when Nâzım Hikmet read a heroic poem he had written about sailors. Cemal Pasha offered to send him to the Heybeliada Naval School and after the acceptance of the offer by the family, he helped Nâzım enter this school.
Nâzım Hikmet entered the Naval School in 1917 and graduated thence in 1919 and started to work as intern deck officer on the Hamidiye Cruiser. But in winter of the same year his pleurisy illness repeated. After a medical treatment period of nearly two months, during which he was under control of the head doctor of the Navy Hospital, Hakkı Şinasi Pasha, he was given permission to go home for two months. But he did not recover enough to return to work as a navy officer. By a Health Council Report he was discharged as unfit for duty in May 1920.
At this time, he was going to be known among Syllabist Poets as a young voice. Nâzım Hikmet admired Yahya Kemal who was his history and literature teacher and also his family friend, and showed him his poems for his critique. In 1920, the Alemdar Newspaper organised a contest where the jury consisted of famous poets. Nâzım was elected recipient of the award. Young masters, such as Faruk Nafiz, Yusuf Ziya, Orhan Seyfi talked about him with great admiration.
Istanbul had been under occupation and Nâzım Hikmet was writing resistance poems reflecting the ebullient patriotism. In the last days of 1920 the poem "Gençlik" (Youth) called the young generation to fight for the liberation of the country.
On 1 January 1921, with the help of illegal organisation which provided weapons to Mustafa Kemal, four poets (Faruk Nafiz,Yusuf Ziya, Nâzım Hikmet and Vâlâ Nurettin) secretly got on the Yeni Dünya (New World) Ship in Sirkeci. In order to gain passage to Ankara, one had to wait nearly 5 or 6 days at Inebolu. The passage was granted only to Nâzım Hikmet and Vâlâ Nurettin by Ankara.
During the days in Inebolu, they met young students coming from Germany who were waiting for permission to go to Ankara, like them. Among them there were Sadık Ahi ( later Mehmet Eti- Parliamentary of CHP),Vehbi(Prof. Vehbi Sarıdal) Nafi Atuf(Kansu-General Secretary of CHP). These were called as Spartans and they defended socialism and praised SSCB that was the first country which accepted Turkey's National Pact (Misak-ı Milli) Borders. These ideas were new for Nâzım and his friend Vâlâ Nureddin.
When they reached Ankara the first duty given to them was to write a poem to summon the youth of Istanbul to the national Struggle. They finished this three-page poem within three days. It was published by the Matbuat Müdürlüğü (Directory of Press) in four pages in 11.5 x 18 cm. format and served out in ten-thousand copies in March 1921. The impact of the poem was so great that the members of the National Assembly started to argue how to resolve the enthusiastic upheaval which was caused by the poem. Muhittin Birgen, the Director of Press,
was criticised in the negative because of publishing and serving out of the poem.
It would have been a great problem to find jobs if the youth of Istanbul had come to Ankara. Discomforted by having been compelled to report to the National Assembly on the matter, Muhittin Birgen decided to transfer Nâzım Hikmet and Vâlâ Nureddin to the auspices of the Ministry of Education.
At this time, İsmail Fazıl Pasha, one of the relatives of Celile Hanım, summoned to the Assembly these two talented poets whose poem had caused such a stir, and introduced them to Mustafa Kemal Pasha.
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