Some Advice to Those who will Serve Time in Prison

If instead of being hanged by the neck
you're thrown inside
for not giving up hope
in the world, in your country, in people,
if you do ten or fifteen years
apart from the time you have left,
you won't say
'Better I had swung from the end of a rope like a flag'-
you'll put your foot down and live.
I might not be a pleasure exactly,
but it's your solemn duty
to live one more day
to spite the enemy.
Part of you many live alone inside
like a stone at the bottom of a well.
But the other part
must be so caught up
in the flurry or the world
that you shiver there inside
when outside, at forty days' distance, a leaf moves.
To wait for letters inside
or to sing sad songs,
or to lie awake all night staring at the ceiling
is sweet, but dangerous.
Look at your face from shave to shave,
forget you age,
watch out for lice,
and for spring nights:
and always remember
to eat every last piece of bread-
also, don't forget to laugh heartily.
And, who knows,
the woman you love any no longer love you.
Don't say it's no big thing-
it's like the snapping of a green branch
to the man inside.
To think of roses and gardens inside is bad,
to think of seas and mountains is good.
Read and write without stopping to rest,
and I also advise weaving,
and also making mirrors.
I means it's not that you can't pass
ten or fifteen years inside,
and more even-
you can,
as long as the jewel
in the left side of your chest doesn't lose its luster!

Nazim Hikmet (Turkish Poet)
Nazim Hikmet (1902-1963). Although Salonika is now a city in Northern Greece, Hikmet was born there when it was still part of the Ottoman Empire. He was educated at a naval college in Istanbul and then in Moscow. Soon after he returned to Turkey after studying in Moscow, he was sentenced to thirty-five years in jail for his political activities. He was released from prison in 1951, by which time he had achieved an international reputation as a poet- one of the first Turkish poets to do so.