The Darkness of the Night Has Not Ended yet
From "An Anthology of Faiz"---Selected works translated by Dr.Nazir Khaja (under publication)


Faiz Ahmad Faiz was a well-known poet of the S. Asian sub-continent. He died two decades ago, yet his poetry is still much appreciated by those who read the Urdu language. Besides being a poet, Faiz was a political activist. A substantial part of his poetry reflects the oppression he endured.
His mastery over the Urdu language and idiom is unmatched. Even as he reflects poetically on political struggles, a unique and artistic dimension enhancing the moral argument against tyranny is obvious in his work. Many of his poems were composed while he was in prison on account of his political beliefs.
Any work of art, if it is truly that, has resonance into eternity. His verses, though written several decades ago, are very much alive and speak to the struggles for freedom of the masses across the world.  He writes about the desire of people whose palpable unrest and longing for their human rights has been so much a part of history and the human experience.
The other body of his work that is equally compelling is the poetry of romance.  In the Urdu language it is expressed in the ghazal, a collage of seven or more verses each ending in rhyming words and expressing a variety of emotions, but mainly that of longing for the loved one. Each couplet reflects a different thought or emotion and can stand on its own in rendering with great beauty a moment in the life of one possessed with love. Faiz's own mastery in this discipline again reflects the expanse of not just the rich vocabulary but his poetic imagination. The wizardry of his words makes it possible for us to enter and enjoy his feelings, much like taking a pleasurable morning stroll in a lush garden.
According to Santayana "A translator is a traitor;" perhaps because no translation can do justice to the original work whose beauty remains unmatched. And yet a translator's act of treason deserves a fair trial in the court of public opinion. All I can offer as my own defense for being presumptuous in attempting to translate some of Faiz's work is to offer the classical argument often used: emotions often overcome reason! I know of no other way of translating poetry. - Dr.Nazir Khaja

Subahe Azadi  1947.

Faiz Ahamad Faiz

Ye Daag Daag Ujala, ye Shab Gazeeda Seher
Wu Intizar tha Jiska, Yeh wu Seher tu Nahin
Ye Wo Seher tu Nahin Jiski Arzoo lay Kar
Chale` Tey Yaar Kay mil Jaigi Kahin Na kahin
Falak Kay Dasht Men Taron Ki Akhri Manzil
Kahin to Hoga Shabe` Sust Mowj ka Sahil
Kahin To Jake Rukega Safinae Ghume Dil
Jawan Lahoo ki Pur Israr Shahrahon Say
Chale Jo Yar Tho Daman Pe Kithnay Haath Pade`
Dayare Husn ki Bay Sabr Qwab Grahon say

Pukarti rahi Bahen Badan Bulate` Rahay
Buhat haseen thi laykin Rukhe` Sahar Ki  Lagan
Buhat Qarren tha Haseenane Noor ka Daman
Subuk Subuk Thi Tamanna, Dabi Dabi Thi Thakan.
Suna Hai Ho Bhi Chuka Hai Firaqe` zulmat o'Noor
Suna Hai Ho Bhi Chuka Hai Wisale` Manzil o'gaam
Badal Chuka Hai Buhat Ahle'Dard Ka Dastoor
Nishate` Wasl Halal wo Azabe Hijr Haram.
Jigr ki Aag, Nazr ki Umang, Dil ki Jalan
Kisi pey Charae`-Giryan ka kuch Asr hi Nahin
Kahan Say Aii Nigare` Saba, Kidhar ko Gaii
Abhi Chiraghe` Sare` Rah Ko kuch khabar Hi Nahin.
Abhi Giraniay Shab Men kumi Nahin Aii
Najate` Deeda wu Dil ki Ghadi Nahim Aii
Chalay Chalo-ke` Wu Manzil Abhi Nahin Aii.

AUGUST 1947
DAWN OF FREEDOM

This tattered raiment of darkness
This sputtering of dawn.
This is not the dawn that we had hoped for.
This is not the dawn we had set out for.
Through the darkness,
Towards the last station of the night stars;
Hoping to find the end of our journey,
Somewhere on the distant shore
Of the languishing sea of night,
Where our sorrow-laden ship
Would at last come home to anchor.

Through youth's warm blooded venues
As we traveled,
Many a hand tugged at our cloak
From beauty`s sleepless abode
Many arms and bodies beckoned us

But very dear was the blush of dawn,
And inviting was the glowing raiment
Of the maidens of light.

Brisk was then the desire
And suppressed entirely the thought of fatigue.

Darkness now has cleaved from light,
We hear.
The Journey has finally now ended,
We hear.

How changed are the rules
For those who have struggled painfully.
Permitted now only is the pleasure
From the delusion of attainment;
Forbidden is the persistent pain of struggle.

Alas! Though the spark of vision,
The fire raging in the mind,
The heartache, none has dimmed.

From whither came the gust of dawn's breeze,
And where did it go?
The flickering lamp on the wayside,
Does not know.

The darkness of the night has not ended yet.
The moment of liberation of hearts and minds
Has not come yet.
Keep going, for we have not come
To the end of our journey yet!

 

 


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Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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