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Masses & Mainstream
October, 1950, pp 8-9

To Nazim Hikmet


The way your own walls could not contain your words,
so did they find us, my brother,
nor could our walls exclude them.
And there came to me that day in prison,
speaking in the prison whisper you know so well,
that gentle writer, Albert Maltz-
Like you, his crime was words that sang of life,
of peace and hope and the things men cherish-
and told me you were free.
Free, he said, Nazim Hikmet's free,
and walks in freedom on his own good native ground,
and sings loud and proud, for all men to hear.
How can I tell you, friend, comrade, brother too,
whom I have never seen but know so well,
and hold so high, in such precious esteem-
how can I tell you what this meant?
For in that moment we were free.
For in that moment my heart sang a song to equal yours,
and I knew you as well as ever I knew a man,
knew you and all your kind, our kind,
such a brotherhood that surmounts nations,
and they think to quiet us,
to make us silent behind walls.
A small blow once we struck in your behalf,
yet I tell you that you freed us,
two writers of a land five thousand miles from yours,
like yours a land where evil men do evil things,
like yours a land where freedom bows her head in shame,
but will awaken yet.
When you went free we understood
the small moment of our own walls,
erected by clowns and smirking killers,
a small moment in the march of man toward light and glory-
yet do I have to tell you,
when surely you heard the song our hearts made!