• Free Verse In Turkish Poetic Tradition

  • Nâzım Hikmet's Efficacity

    Despite writing his first poems in syllabic meter, Nâzım Hikmet distantiated from the "syllabic poets" in concept. He didn't fall into the trap posed by their concept of individual poetry. Instead, he tended towards a social conception of poetry and followed the way of poets like Tevfik Fikret, Mehmet Emin and Mehmet Akif.
    With the development of his poetic conception, the narrow forms of the syllabic meter began not to satisfy his needs and he set out to seek new forms for his poems. During the first years (1922-1925) of living in the Soviet Union, this search for form reached the peak.
    Breaking the boundaries of the syllabic meter, he changed his form and preferred writing in free-verse which harmonised with the rich vocal properties of the Turkish language. He was affected by Mayakovski and the young Soviet poets who advocated Futurism.
    He believed that it was not possible to sing a contemporary song in accompaniment to an "instrument of three wires/on which three puny nightingale's twittered". He was far enough from those who escaped the realities of life to withdraw into their own pod, those who saw artistic activity simply as activity by and for intelligentsia, and those who despised the people.
    In 1929 when his first book, entitled 835 Satır (835 Lines) was published, at first the artistic circles were bewildered. Afterwards, unexpected praises were to come from the famous writers of the era, even from the likes of Ahmet Haşim and Yakup Kadri.
    In his subsequent poems, Nâzım Hikmet maintained his impact and was soon writing free verse. In his books printed up to 1936, he radically jolted the values of the poetry of the Republican period.
    In Şeyh Bedreddin Destanı (The Epic of Şeyh Bedreddin) he attained the ultimate synthesis of national manner in poetry. He merged in contemporary form the Classical and Folk trends.
    He had begun to write his masterpiece 'Memleketimden İnsan Manzaraları' (Human Landscapes) in 1941 in Bursa Prison. In this book, he rendered in epic proportion the story of a wide temporal span ranging from Second Constitutional Government to the aftermath of the Second World War. (1908-1959)
    Human Landscapes, which merged the techniques of poetry, prose and film script, was the harbinger of a new genre that was neither poetry nor novel, story, film script, play or epic.
    With this productivity which peaked during his prison years, he wrote a vast number of poems each more excellent than the other. After going abroad, for an extended period, he wrote more of the same. His production now was a repetition of what he had attained mastery in, and contained no new experimentation. After 1959, with poems like "with hair that is straw yellow and eyelashes that are blue" he entered an entirely new phase and yielded the last products of his art, each of which attained excellence.
    In 1938 no sooner had the poet entered prison Nâzım Hikmet's poems disappeared from the market. They would become available again in Turkey two years after his death in 1965.
    One of the greatest masters of Turkish poetry, Nâzım Hikmet also wrote both novels and plays. His plays, which aimed at resolving theoretical problems in socialist-realistic playwriting, were adapted to film, ballet and opera.
    He also wrote numerous articles and critical essays in a variety of subjects.

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