I had written about Majeed Amjad, a forgotten but outstanding Urdu poet of twentieth century. Today, a friend tagged me (on facebook) with another of his wistful poems. There is a translation along with the poem. I am posting both for readers here. Majeed Amjad’s style is difficult to render in any other language; however, the effort by Yasmeen Hameed (below) is quite competent. Once again this is a powerful, stark poem leaving you immensely moved. The hallmark of great poetry is that it has a unique impact on the reader/listener. Majeed Amjad leaves the reader standing in the ruins of the heart, he often writes about. I also found an audio archive of Amjad reciting his poems in a deep, soulful voice with a slight Punjabi accent.
Its a shame that Pakistan has not acknowledged this great poet. He died in oblivion and the literary establishment is divided about him. Amjad lived and died as an individual in a society that functions along groups, camps and clans. This is why he is so different from most of Urdu poets of his age.
Here is the poem:
These neighborhood dwellings, these little homes, these casements, these courtyards, even before us were as tranquil, as resplendent.
Those who left did not deny the homes their love, were not so eager to leave. Who could have held them back, though, the stooping arches had no arms.
Hordes, bound by the chain of fate, could have taken them along, but for the walls which had no feet.
Their spirits now wail and sob, one with the echoing, dusty winds. To them belong these dwellings: biers burning on the debris of fallen eras.
Moulded of a hot mixture of ashy bones and tears, only these bricks can recount the magnitude of our defeat.
It changed us all: the distress of the fractured bricks; our own suffering we dismissed, entrapped in the mesh of stone and hay; we clashed with each other.
These neighborhood dwellings, their edged roof-tops, the palatial houses, the tent-homes, but for the countless walls that divide the hearts.
— Majeed Amjad (translated from Urdu by Yasmeen Hameed)