Nazim Hikmet spent one third of his adult life fighting for a socialist revolution in his native Turkey, one third in jail and one third in exile. Now he is dead. Very few in Britain can have felt anything at the news. Very few can have known who he was, even that he had been alive at all. Yet Hikmet was one of the great poets of our century. Britain, of course, is proud of its local poetic culture; not many readers feel any wish to explore beyond the limits of their own language. Even the great romantic masters of 19th-century Europe—Pushkin, Mickiewicz, Petofi—have scarcely and lately been translated. What chance has a poet of 20th-century Turkey?
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