from About Living by Nazım Hikmet: No. 1

Living is not a joking matter:
you have to live with great seriousness
. . . . . . . .like a squirrel, for instance,
that is to say, without expecting anything outside or beyond living,
. . .which means, you must devote yourself fully to living.

You have to take living seriously,
in such a way, to such an extent
that, for instance, your hands tied behind you, your back to the wall,
or wearing think spectacles and a white robe,
in a laboratory,
you must be willing to die for other people,
even those whose faces you have never seen,
although nobody has forced you to do this
and although you know that living
. . .is the most beautiful and the most genuine thing.

That is to say, you have to take living so seriously
that, for instance, even at age seventy, you will plant olive trees
. . .and not to leave them to your children, either,
. . .but because you don’t believe in death although you fear it,
. . . . . .because, I mean, living carries greater weight.

translated by Talat S. Halman

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