Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Two Loves

At the birthday of Faiz Ahmed Faiz (February 13th), I am presenting the translation of one of his most famous and my favorite poem. I am not sure who has translated it; it was found here on the internet. Due to the political turmoil through which our country is going through, Faiz Ahmed Faiz has gained new relevance. It is very important to remember Faiz – again.


Two Loves

I

Oh rose-like Saqi, fresh yet in my memory
are those days whose bright mirror still vibrates with her;
those moments we met, like an opening flower,
the moments, like fluttering heartbeats, I waited for her—

Lo!—hope, roused by the sad heart’s good luck;
lo!—that love’s night of heartache had come to end;
lo!—that those sleepless stars of sorrow were sinking,
that promised joy so long dormant had awakened.

From this rooftop the sun of your beauty will rise,
from that corner its rays red as henna will dawn,
from this doorway your steps like quicksilver will flow,
by that pathway your twilit dress will blossom!

Fevered days too have I known, separation’s pangs,
when lament was forgotten in the soul’s sorrow,
each night’s dark load so heavy, the heart was crushed,
each morning’s flame piercing it like an arrow.

In solitude, how could I keep from thinking of you?
What refuges did my sad heart not seek?
Sometimes I felt the hand of the morning-breeze on my brow,
sometimes I put my arms around the moon’s neck.

II

In this same way I have loved my darling country;
in this same way my heart has pounded with devotion to her;
in this same way my passion has sought the respite of a resting-place,
in the curve of her cheek, in the curls of her hair.

In this same way, to that sweetheart world, my heart and eyes
have called out with laughter, cried out with tears.
All the demands of her summons I have fulfilled;
I made light every pain and calmed every fear.

No bidding toward ecstasy ever went unheeded,
never did the bell’s echo return to the tower alone.
The heart’s ease, creature comforts, a station in life,
all the connivers shrewd advice, forgotten.

What befalls all travelers on that road befell me,
a solitary prison cell, my name ridiculed in the market;
self-anointed holy men from their pulpits thundered,
dictators roared from their seats of power.

No treacherous arrows were spared me by strangers,
no scorn was omitted by those most esteemed,
but my heart feels shame neither for this love nor that love;
there is every scar on this heart but the scar of shame.

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3 Responses to “Faiz Ahmed Faiz: Two Loves”

  1. Very good work.

    I have a open thread about the Pakistani elections at my blog. We are running several candidates, in the PPP.

  2. This is Ted Genoways rendering of the poem, one among several from his article: “Let Them Snuff Out the Moon”: Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s Prison Lyrics in Dast-e Saba.

    Here is another on partition.

    The Dawn of Freedom (August 1947)

    This leprous daybreak, this night-bitten dawn,
    this is not the dawn we awaited with longing sighs;
    this is not the dawn that drew our friends on
    believing that, somewhere in the desert of these skies,
    they would find the resting-place of the stars,
    somewhere find where night’s sluggish tides reach shore,
    somewhere find the boat of heartache and drop anchor.
    When we friends set out by the secret byways of youth
    how many hands bid us stay, pulling at our hems!
    From eager bedchambers in the palace of truth,
    sweet arms kept crying out, flesh calling us to come;
    but dearer was the seductive face of daylight,
    dearer still her robe aglow with sprites:
    my longing seemed to buoy me, my weariness grew light.
    It is said that the division of day from night is done,
    it is said our goals are realized and unflawed;
    but only the ways of our hurtful leaders are new-sprung,
    collective joy decreed, the anguish of separation outlawed.
    The fire in our livers, the burning in our hearts, the riots in our
    eyes—
    this severing cannot cure any of these.
    When did that dear morning wind arrive—and must it go yet?
    The lamps on these byroads have not felt its breeze;
    no one has come to lighten this night’s heavy load yet,
    our heart’s inheritance has not been bestowed yet.
    Come with me, come, our goal lies down the road yet.

  3. ramchandran Says:

    I felt very reassured reading these lines of Faiz here.
    Here was someone who felt then like many of us here now and could pour his heart into his poetry. Alas it has took such a long time for his poetry to be translated well in English and read by many like me who cannot follow much of Urdu.

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