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One of my dearest comrades

My fellow countrymen know me well, and they know I never keep to the subject. While talking of these people present now in our country, who are here to show the growing importance of communist in the political and moral tissue of our times, I would like also to talk of one absent.

His absence is a terrible thing for poetry in general, and for my own heart in particular. A short while ago, Nâzım Hikmet, a great poet and one of my dearest comrades, died in Moscow. One of the greatest communists of our time has died, far from his homeland, Turkey. It was the Soviet Union, generous mother-figure of all those who are persecuted.

Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
Chilen Poet


Why have you died Nâzım? And now
What will we do without your songs?
Where  will we find the source?
Where  will your great smile be waiting for us?
What will we do without your stance.
Without your inflexible renderness?
Where  will we find eyes like yours
Containing the fire and the water
Of demanding truth, weeping compassion and courageous joy?
Brother, you taught me so many things
That were I to take them apart they might vanish and feel like
Snow, far away there in the land you chose while living
Which now also holds you in death.
A spray of Chilean winter chrysanthemums
The cold moon of the South Seas month of June
And something else: the peoples combat in my country
And in yours the muted beat of a drum in mourning.
My Brother, soldier, how lonely now is the eart for me
Without your face blooming like a golden cherry
Without your friendship which was the bread I ate, the water
that quenched my thirst and the energy of my blood.
I saw you arrive from prisons that were like sombre wells
Wells of cruelty, of error and pain.
I caught the traces of punishment in your hands and I searched
your eyes for the poison of hatred
But your heart was radiant
Your wounded heart carried only light.
And now? I ask myself, Let me see think
Imagine the world without the flower you gave me
Imagine the battle without you to show me
The people’s clarity and the poet’s honour
Thanks for what you were and for the fire
Your song left forever burning.

Translation from the Spanish. Susan Drucker-Brown

*When Nâzım died, Neruda took the opportunity of a speech he gave in Bustamente
Park in Santiago, Chile, on 29 Semtember 1963, to add these emotional words.

Quoted from To live, free and single like a tree  / but in brotherhood like a forest edited by Erhan Turgut.

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Nâzım's struggle

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