Peasant Autonomy
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Story 4

Karaburun, West Turkey – about 1400

The poet dreams

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(Photo: Ylbert Durishti)


About 1930 Nâzim Hikmet is imprisoned, because he writes poems which make poor Turks enthusiastic and the government angry. It is already late, and Hikmet is the only one in the room who is still awake. He is reading a book about a peasant revolt at the end of the fourteenth century in the Karaburun region, which is nowadays in Western Turkey. His eyes are itching, he smokes one cigarette after another. He has to go to bed, but he has a splitting headache.
Then he hears a whispering voice, which chases away his headache: “Hikmet, don't you recognize me? I am the Dervish (monk with a long, white garb) from your book. This evening I take you with me.” A moment later Hikmet is on the rocks by the sea, just in front of the prison. The Dervish invites him into his small boat.

for bigger picture click on this photo

(Photo: Milena)


Shortly afterwards they arrive at Karaburun. Now it is about 1400. The farmer Börklüdje Mustafa, stocky, with massive shoulders, goes from village to village. He is a follower of sheikh Bedreddin, a genial old man with a big white beard. He wants to abolish the oppression of peasants by feudal lords.
“When I may use your property, you may use mine,” explains sheikh Bedreddin simply to the villagers. “Working together, harvesting together, eating together. Death to the lords.” The peasants are enthusiastic.
Hikmet and the Dervish notice that in the region of Börklüdje the figs are big and juicy; there the ears of grain are full and golden yellow, and a gentle, fresh wind is blowing. They arrive at the Fool's Forest, where hundreds of villagers have gathered. There is lots of activity, everyone walks around with weapons: cudgels, threshing flails, and sickles, but also swords. There are rumours going around that the sultan will send Prince Murat to put down the rebellion.

Then Hikmet feels a hand on his shoulder. Now it is again about 1930. When he opens his eyes he sees his prison-mate Sjefik. “You look so strange,” he says, “did you sleep well?” Hikmet tells the story of his night journey. A few moments later everyone in the room has heard the dream story. “You have to write a heroic poem about farmer Börklüdje and sheikh Bedreddin,” says Sjefik.


The Epic of Sheikh Bedreddin (1936), written by the Turkish poet Nâzim Hikmet, tells about a peasant rebellion from long ago in the form of a dream.

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Decline of the empire - a village on Java, Indonesia – early sixteenth century (1), story 5.
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