Category Archives: Translations

Waiting for the Tomorrow’s Happy Dawn – Ali Sardar Jafri

I had posted Ali Sardar Jafri’s lovely poem and now a reader Farah Aziz directed me to this blog where a beautiful translation of the poem has been shared.

The setting imperial sun
broke into two parts
On this very Border, yesterday.
The dawn of freedom was wounded
On this very Border, yesterday.
This is the Border of blood,
Tears, sights, and sparks,
Where we had sown hatred
And reaped a harvest of swords.
Here, stars struggled
In the eyes of dear ones.
Here, beloved faces
Flickered in streams of tears.
Here, a mother lost her sons,
A brother, his sister.
This border thrives on blood,
Breathes flames of despise
She slithers like a snake
On the bosom of our land.
She comes to the battlefield
Crested with all her weapons .

I stand on this Border
Waiting for the Tomorrow’s  Happy Dawn.

Manmohan Singh’s ignorance

Manmohan Singh whom I have always held in high regard, disappointed millions in South Asia with his distastefully ill-timed hard talk during his Independence day address. As if Pakistan’s current misery was a time to blow India’s trumpet. He surely was also unaware of what his patriotic Indian poet, Ali Sardar Jafri had written years ago –Dialogue Souldn’t Cease. Here is an Urdu version with a full translation. Perhaps, someone should pass a copy of this poem to the exalted Prime Minister of India.


Two poems from the work of Faiz Ahmed Faiz

A Prison Evening

Each star a rung,
night comes down the spiral
staircase of the evening.
The breeze passes by so very close
as if someone just happened to speak of love.
In the courtyard,
the trees are absorbed refugees
embroidering maps of return on the sky.
On the roof,
the moon – lovingly, generously –
is turning the stars
into a dust of sheen.
From every corner, dark-green shadows,
in ripples, come towards me.
At any moment they may break over me,
like the waves of pain each time I remember
this separation from my lover.
This thought keeps consoling me:
though tyrants may command that lamps be smashed
in rooms where lovers are destined to meet,
they cannot snuff out the moon, so today,
nor tomorrow, no tyranny will succeed,
no poison of torture make me bitter,
if just one evening in prison
can be so strangely sweet,
if just one moment anywhere on this earth.
English Translation by Agha Shahid Ali Continue reading

Bahar Ayee (Spring Has Come)

*By Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Translated by Ayesha Kaljuvee
Spring has come

So have returned suddenly from the past
* *
All those dreams, all that beauty

That on your lips had died
* *
That had died and lived again each time

All the roses are blooming

That still smell of your memories

That are the blood of my love for you
* * Continue reading

Fahmida Riaz – “Her dreams of the future”

Barricaded Islamabad enveloped by the ghosts of national gloom has one little corner of hope. The Pakistan Academy of Letters, under its dynamic and committed Chairman, Fakhar Zaman, continues to weave narratives that still inspire. Even when the bitterness of our grim present affects us all, Fakhar Zaman was forthright in his views on Pakistan, its future and most importantly, its literary tradition. The venue was the book launch of Fahmida Riaz’s novel Godavari that has been translated into English. Fahmida Riaz is better known as a poet but her unique prose is lesser known. Her short stories and novels are extraordinary pieces of literary works rendered into sheer poetry. Often it is difficult to determine the genre of her ‘prose’ works as the lines between watertight compartments blur and fade away, only to reappear as a gentle reminder to the readers that our author is experimenting in her inimitable style. 

Godavari was published last year by the Oxford University Press and Fakhar Zaman organised its launch under the aegis of PAL only to ensure that there are many indigenous, native voices in English that have yet not caved in to the pressures and inducements of Western publishing houses. Godavari is a deceptively simple story of a few characters visiting a holiday hill resort in Maharashtra a little before the communal riots that shook Bombay and India in the 1980s. But deep within its lines, sub-textual connotations and shifting moods lie tales of discrimination, communal hatred and the unfettered spirits of its universal female characters. The heartening aspect of this book launch was that there were a few dozen enthusiasts present on the occasion, and a few powerful Continue reading

Faiz’s Shaam

Faiz’s poem Shaam with a translation by Agha Shahid Ali.Thanks to Junaid for the contribution.
Iss tarha hai ke har ik perr koi mandir hai
koi ujrra huwa, benoor, puraana mandir
dhooNdta hey jo kharaabi ke bahaaney kab se
chaak har baam, har ik dard ka dam-e-aakhir hey
aasmaaN koi prohit hey jo har baam taley
jism pe raakh maley, maathey pe sindoor maley
sir-niguN betha hey chup chaap naa jaaney kab sey

Iss tarha hai ke pas-e-parda koi saahir hai
jiss nay aafaaq pe phelaaya hai yuN sehar kaa daam
daaman-e-waqt sey pewast hai yuN daaman-e-shaam
ab kabhi shaam bujhey gi na andhera ho ga
ab kabhi raat dhaley gi na sawera ho ga

AasmaaN aas leeye hai ke ye jaadu tootay
chup ki zanjeer katay, waqt ka daaman chhootey
day koi sankh duhaai, koi paayal boley
koi butt jaagey, koi saaNwali ghooNgat kholey

The trees are dark ruins of temples,
seeking excuses to tremble
since who knows when–
their roofs are cracked,
their doors lost to ancient winds.
And the sky is a priest,
saffron marks on his forehead,
ashes smeared on his body.
He sits by the temples, worn to a shadow, not looking up.
Some terrible magician, hidden behind curtains,
has hypnotized Time
so this evening is a net
in which the twilight is caught.
Now darkness will never come–
and there will never be morning.
The sky waits for this spell to be broken,
for history to tear itself from this net,
for Silence to break its chains
so that a symphony of conch shells
may wake up to the statues
and a beautiful, dark goddess,
her anklets echoing, may unveil herself.
(from The Rebel’s Silhouette)

It Has Been Written

Last night I stumbled upon this translation of Parveen Shakir’s poem (Navishta) rendered by C M Naim. This is where she addresses her only son on the perils of living with a famous mother. Parveen was extraordinary and her poems continue to cajole, haunt and address the readers.
“. . . then Zaid cursed Bakar, ‘Your mother
is more well known than your father!’ ”

My son,
this curse is your fate too.
In a fathers’ world you too, one day,
must pay a heavy price
for being known by your mother,
though your eyes’ color, your brow’s
and all the curves your lips create
come from the man
who shared with me in your birth,
yet alone gives you significance
in the eyes of the law-givers.
But the tree that nurtured you three
must claim one season as its own,
to comb the stars, turn thoughts into
make poems leapfrog your ancestors’ walls . . .
a season that Mira couldn’t send away,
nor could Sappho.
Now it must be this family’s fate
that you should frequently feel abashed
before your playmates, and that your
must grin and bear it among his friends.
The name on the doorbell means
the world knows you by one name