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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Nâzim Hikmet Ran: Things I Didn't Know I Loved (on the Prague-Berlin train)

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Prague | by BadSoull

Night train, Prague: photo by Daniel Jurena, 22 January 2014

it's 1962 March 28th
I'm sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
night is falling
I never knew I liked
night descending like a tired bird on a smoky wet plain
I don't like
comparing nightfall to a tired bird


Lonely trains | by Medhi

Lonely trains. Train station called Smirchov in Prague: photo by Jirí Zraly, 19 April 2008

I didn't know I loved the earth
can someone who hasn't worked the earth love it
I've never worked the earth
it must be my only Platonic love



Charles Bridge at Night - Prague | by virtualwayfarer

Charles Bridge at night, Prague: photo by Alex Berger, 11 December 2012

and here I've loved rivers all this time
whether motionless like this they curl skirting the hills
European hills crowned with chateaus
or whether stretched out flat as far as the eye can see
I know you can't wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you'll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me



Railway in the Sky | by herbraab

Railway in the Sky. The "Kalte Rinne" viaduct of the Semmering Raiway (Lower Austria) under a clear, starry sky. The Milky Way arches over the viaduct, while the trails of the passing train can be seen on top of the building
: photo by H. Raab, 6 September 2013

I didn't know I loved the sky
cloudy or clear
the blue vault Andrei studied on his back at Borodino
in prison I translated both volumes of War and Peace into Turkish
I hear voices
not from the blue vault but from the yard
the guards are beating someone again
I didn't know I loved trees
bare beeches near Moscow in Peredelkino
they come upon me in winter noble and modest
beeches are Russian the way poplars are Turkish
"the poplars of Izmir
losing their leaves. . .
they call me The Knife. . .
lover like a young tree. . .
I blow stately mansions sky-high"
in the Ilgaz woods in 1920 I tied an embroidered linen handkerchief
to a pine bough for luck



İzmir'in Kavakları | by Nejdet Duzen
Zamir'n Kavalakari [Poplars, Izmir]: photo by nejdet düzen, 14 January 2010

I never knew I loved roads
even the asphalt kind
Vera's behind the wheel we're driving from Moscow to the Crimea
Koktebele
formerly "Goktepé ili" in Turkish
the two of us inside a closed box
the world flows past on both sides distant and mute
I was never so close to anyone in my life
bandits stopped me on the red road between Bolu and Geredé
when I was eighteen
apart from my life I didn't have anything in the wagon they could take
and at eighteen our lives are what we value least
I've written this somewhere before
wading through a dark muddy street I'm going to the shadow play
Ramazan night
a paper lantern leading the way
maybe nothing like this ever happened
maybe I read it somewhere an eight-year-old boy
going to the shadow play
Ramazan night in Istanbul holding his grandfather's hand
his grandfather has on a fez and is wearing the fur coat
with a sable collar over his robe
and there's a lantern in the servant's hand
and I can't contain myself for joy
flowers come to mind for some reason
poppies cactuses jonquils
in the jonquil garden in Kadikoy Istanbul I kissed Marika
fresh almonds on her breath
I was seventeen
my heart on a swing touched the sky
I didn't know I loved flowers
friends sent me three red carnations in prison



Garden Cat | by LaValle PDX

 Garden Cat. Kadikoy, Istanbul: photo by LaValle PDX, 11 September 2010

Kadikoy Kiz Lisesi-04 | by OmniMIT

Kadikoy Kiz Lezesi [Istanbul}: photo by Umit Ozdemir, 2 April 2006

Kadikoy Kiz Lisesi-22 | by OmniMIT

 Kadikoy Kiz Lezesi [Istanbul}: photo by Umit Ozdemir, 2 April 2006

Dos enamorados | by Oxiourus with slow internet

Dos enamorados. Kadikoy, Istanbul: photo by Michael & Laura Dubois, 23 September 2014

I just remembered the stars
I love them too
whether I'm floored watching them from below
or whether I'm flying at their side



Cosmonaut | by sjrankin

Edited ISS image of a cosmonaut on an EVA: photo by Stuart Rankin, 16 August 2013

I have some questions for the cosmonauts
were the stars much bigger
did they look like huge jewels on black velvet
or apricots on orange
did you feel proud to get closer to the stars
I saw color photos of the cosmos in Ogonek magazine now don't
be upset comrades but nonfigurative shall we say or abstract
well some of them looked just like such paintings which is to
say they were terribly figurative and concrete
my heart was in my mouth looking at them
they are our endless desire to grasp things
seeing them I could even think of death and not feel at all sad
I never knew I loved the cosmos

028 : Le train de nuit - The night train. | by rino54

Le train de nuit. Seicheprey, France: photo by Renaud Chodkowski, 5 June 2010

snow flashes in front of my eyes
both heavy wet steady snow and the dry whirling kind
I didn't know I liked snow



L1011000 | by Sigfrid Lundberg

Catching the train [Lund, Sweden]
: photo by Sigfrid Lundberg, 1 November 2014


I never knew I loved the sun
even when setting cherry-red as now
in Istanbul too it sometimes sets in postcard colors
but you aren't about to paint it that way
I didn't know I loved the sea
except the Sea of Azov
or how much


A Cow of Azov Sea | by lukasz.kryger

A Cow of Azov Sea. Mysovoye, near Cape Kazantip, Eastern Crimea: photo by Lukasz Kryger, 30 July 2008

I didn't know I loved clouds
whether I'm under or up above them
whether they look like giants or shaggy white beasts



Sea of Azov | by SHeva4ever1

Sea of Azov: photo by Alexander Shevchenko, 4 April 2010

moonlight the falsest the most languid the most petit-bourgeois
strikes me
I like it


Sous la pluie, la nuit. Le Bourget, France: photo by Renaud Chodkowski, 19 January 2012
 
I didn't know I liked rain
whether it falls like a fine net or splatters against the glass my
heart leaves me tangled up in a net or trapped inside a drop
and takes off for uncharted countries I didn't know I loved
rain but why did I suddenly discover all these passions sitting
by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
is it because I lit my sixth cigarette
one alone could kill me
is it because I'm half dead from thinking about someone back in Moscow
her hair straw-blond eyelashes blue



Peredelkino | by padshewscky

Peredelkino: photo by Paul Padshewscky, 16 July 2011

Peredelkino | by padshewscky

Peredelkino: photo by Paul Padshewscky, 16 July 2011

the train plunges on through the pitch-black night
I never knew I liked the night pitch-black
sparks fly from the engine
I didn't know I loved sparks
I didn't know I loved so many things and I had to wait until sixty
to find it out sitting by the window on the Prague-Berlin train
watching the world disappear as if on a journey of no return
 


Moscow, 19 April 1962
 

Nâzim Hikmet Ran (b. Salonica, 15 January 1902 - d. Moscow, 3 June 1963): Things I Didn't Know I Loved, 28 March-19 April 1962, translated by Mutlu Konuk and Randy Blasing, 1993


Euronight 477 Metropol From Praha hlavni nadraží to Budapest | by lukvalek

Euronight 477 Metropol from Praha hlavni nadrazi to Budapest: photo by Lukas Valicek, 29 July 2014
EuroNight #477, Berlin Hbf | by fotoeins

EuroNight #477 (night train from Berlin to Budapest via Prague), Berlin Hauptbahnhof: by Henry Lee, 4 October 2009
Waitin for Jesenius.. | by Ms Kat
 
Waitin' for Jesenius...The Jan Jesenius is the Prague-Berlin, Berlin-Prague night train
: photo by Ms Kat, 18 June 2011

arches and farewells | by moonbird

Hlavni Nadrazi (main train station), Prague, Czech Republic: photo by jay joslin, 9 October 2008

Untitled | by wenzday01

Main train station, Prague: photo by Wendy, 29 April 2008
 
Berlin #6 | by Ayertosco

Berlin #6e nouveaux horizons: photo by Emanuele Toscano, 11 November 2013

taking flight | by cuantofalta

Taking flight, Berlin: photo by Paula Gimeno, 21 November 2009

Night Trains in the Fog | by Ian_Boys

Night Trains in Fog. Czech-German border, 0100 hours: photo by Ian Boys, 10 January 2010

murder in a train - or - greetings from alfred hitchcock - or - was it mrs. marple? | by extranoise

Night train, Berlin. Murder in a train -- or -- greetings from Alfred Hitchcock -- or was it Mrs. Marple? I just shot the photo of the train and later saw this scene. Don't know what it is but it doesn't look nice. In the meantime, I came the to the conclusion that this "thing" must be the Berlin television tower, which is in the direction from where I shot the picture, although I took several photos from the same position and it doesn't appear on the other images: photo by Till Krech, 12 May 2008

Trains crossing in the night | by Fintrvlr

Trains crossing in the night. Helsinki railway yard: photo by Fintrvir, 9 March 2013

night train | by ewitsoe

Night train, Poznan, Poland
: photo by ewitsoe, 29 February 2012


Night Train | by Gerry Balding

Night Train. An electric multiple unit waits in the sidings at Lezsno. Taken during a watering stop on a steam special from Wroclaw to Poznan: photo by Gerry Balding, 6 July 2013

Rails | by Sebeats

Rails [Hanover, Germany]: photo by Sebastian Schlattmann, 22 November 2013

Sur les Rails | by Sylvain Courant photographies

Sur les Rails. La gare du Nord de nuit, partir vers de nouveaux horizons: photo by Sylvain Courant, 5 December 2012

Hösbach Bahnhof | by ConstiAB

Hösbach Bahnhof: photo by ConstiAB, 27 March 2015

TOPSHOTS TOPSHOTS A Perseid meteor along...TOPSHOTS TOPSHOTS A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the  "Perseids" meteor shower on August 12, 2015. AFP PHOTO/ CESAR MANSOCESAR MANSO/AFP/Getty Images

A Perseid meteor along the Milky Way illuminates the dark sky near Villadiego in the province of Burgos, northern Spain, during the “Perseids” meteor shower: photo by Cesar Manso/AFP, 12 August 2015

8 comments:

Nin Andrews said...

Wow! I didn't know I loved Nazim Hikmet Ran!

tpw said...

O, god, what a great poem. Thanks for it, Tom (and for the amazing images as well). It made me think of and go to Lucinda Williams's brilliant "Sweet Old World," which only had me crying more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-XJ1ROQLHk

Sandra said...

I can´t help loving him for writing this and you for posting it !

TC said...

Thanks so much to all souls, from we the living, remembering the many no longer among us, while we're still here.

The great Hikmet poem infuses elegy for what is passing with a love of life so strong, it's impossible not to be moved.

Here's Terry's very timely link -- his beloved big brother Kevin having yesterday left this world, RIP (a loss that is recalled in the post, in ways too obscure to attempt to explain at this late, distant hour):

Lucinda Williams: Sweet Old World (Live on Austin City Limits, 4 October 2012)

What a song it is, likely Lucinda's finest. Deep, languid, dreamy, trancelike, tonally ambivalent.

Though not released until 13 years after the event, the song recalls the 1979 suicide of poet Frank Stanford, a former paramour of Williams'.

See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
The breath from your own lips, the touch of fingertips
A sweet and tender kiss
The sound of a midnight train, wearing someone's ring
Someone calling your name
Somebody so warm cradled in your arm
Didn't you think you were worth anything
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

Millions of us in love, promises made good
Your own flesh and blood
Looking for some truth, dancing with no shoes
The beat, the rhythm, the blues
The pounding of your heart's drum together with another one
Didn't you think anyone loved you
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world
See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world

Rolling Stone ranks it as the 22nd saddest country tune of all time.

Wiliams released Sweet Old World on the eponymous LP in 1992, and the following year did this duet version with Mary Chapin Carpenter:

Lucinda Williams and Mary Chapin Carpenter: Sweet Old World (Live, 1993)

But for me the Austin City Limits version (Terry's original link) is the classic.

In that rendition Lu's usual band gains by the addition of a couple of genius players.

There's great supporting squeezebox work by keyboard wizard Greg Husted aka Atticus Finch.

And on lead guitar, Kenny Vaughan, deadpan babyfaced nerdy-virtuoso twang prince of country, recessive, expressionless and brilliant... a secret legend, known to few, worshipped by lord knows how many.

Here is KV in another context, showing his stuff:

Kenny Vaughan Trio: Ghost Riders in the Sky (Live at Robert's Western World, Nashville, 2012)

And finally, this is also pretty sweet:

Emmy Lou Harris covers Sweet Old World in her living room in Nawlins, with Neil Young singing backup falsetto harmonies and contributing a soulful harp solo

billoo said...

Spell-binding poem and post Tom. Reminded me a bit of Supervielle.

I love the words "I didn't know" which seems to be balancing between discovery and forgetting, a last look, a broken circle.

TC said...

Thanks very much, b.

Yes, it's an absolutely stunning poem, the quality and depth of which presented a great challenge in attempting to amount a visual corollary of anything like a comparable evocative power.

The poet's repeated admission of a far-reaching ignorance of common things, at sixty, together with the revelation of discovery, inspired by new love, in recognizing these things as valued, creates a beautiful format for the iterative rhetorical trope, building by increments into a headlong, breathless declaration of love for the world -- in a man of sixty, who'd by then had been through quite a lot, was suffering from serious heart trouble, didn't have long to live, and likely knew it.

But heartfulness, and courage, and resilience of spirit, are signature virtues in the work of this great world poet. His poem brings us back, both to poetry and to the world.

I know you can't wash in the same river even once
I know the river will bring new lights you'll never see
I know we live slightly longer than a horse but not nearly as long as a crow
I know this has troubled people before
and will trouble those after me
I know all this has been said a thousand times before
and will be said after me

billoo said...

Yes, it's beautiful. There's something lovely about this "I didn't know"..as if to say, I really did, all along...and maybe we will never really know in time?

Khair..

Thanks again for pointing us to this.

To continue with your linking of trains, bridges and a love of the world..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bZXO_xmnJc

TC said...

Thanks very much for reminding me of that scene, quite pertinent indeed.

"The potatoes in the ashes... The boathouse floating in the lake... Tristan da Cunha..."