Living Is Not a Laughing Matter by Nazim Hikmet

Nazim Hikmet is one my most favorite Turkish poets (the other is Orhan Veli).
I can write so much about him. But I don’t want to.
I want his poem to fill in all the space. So few lines with so much content…

Living is not a laughing matter

you must live with great seriousness
like a squirrel, for example-
I mean without looking for something beyond and above living,
I mean living must be your whole occupation.


Yasamak şakaya gelmez

büyük bir ciddiyetle yasayacaksin
bir sincap gibi mesela,
yani, yasamanin disinda ve otesinde hicbir sey beklemeden,
yani butun isin gucun yasamak olacak.

Nazim Hikmet

I try to be that squirrel. Moments are my occupation. I hope, and try to fill them with beauty; and meaning.  And if it works, I then try to hold on to those moments, even when they are passed. And smile. Seriously.

Ralph Waldo Emerson on Success

I stumbled over this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson today. He is a 19th cc. US American thinker, literate and poet. He belongs to the school of transcendentalists as I read. So, he belonged to a generation of people, whose attempt was to define spirituality and religion that reflect  the new understandings of their era. He was involved in social reforms such as  anti-slavery and women’s rights.

What he wrote about success made me think. I read these lines over and over to pick my most favorite one, even though I can identify myself with the entire poem. For me this is the purest, yet most contentful and actually the most beautiful definition of success. Here is what he says:


To laugh often and much
to win the respect of intelligent people
and affection of children; to earn the
appreciation of honest critics and
endure the betrayal of false friends;
to appreciate beauty, to find the best
in others; to leave the world a bit
better, whether by a healthy child
a garden patch or redeemed
social condition; to know even
one life has breathed easier because
you have lived. This is to have

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Now I know my most favorite line: “ know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.” . I thought hard to decide whether this holds for me…I don’t know, I really don’t. I hope so…It matters to me.
This line crosses my mind everyday now. It makes me happy, makes me feel better.  Because each new day gives me the chance to make it happen.