Faraz Translated
By Dr. Rizwana Rahim
Chicago, IL


Much has been written about Faraz’s Urdu poetry since his death a few weeks ago. His poetry seems to have struck a note across the linguistic lines.  For some non-Urdu speaking groups, I happened to translate a couple of his poems in English, realizing again in the process, how Urdu metaphors,  imagery and concepts do not travel well.   An attempt to take them across the linguistic and cultural lines isn’t without peril.  That said, here it is:   


1.  Dreams Don’t Die  (Khwaab Mur-thay Nahin)


Dreams don’t die --

they are not heart, eyes or life itself that,

when smashed, will scatter

and die.

Dreams don’t die --

they ARE the light, the life, the air

undeterred by forbidding mountains  

unconsumed by the hells of oppression.

This is Light, Life and Air

that can be taken to the gallows

but will not be forced into submission.

Dreams are Words,

Dreams are Light,




[*A famous Islamic mystic, Mansoor Al-Hallaj, a Persian/Iranian Sufi master (858-922 AD). Once, coming out of his trance and meditation, he declared, in Arabic, “un-al Haq” (“I am the Truth,” that is, God), thinking himself as one with the rest of the creation and the God. This was considered heresy by Islamic officials and followers, because they believed no one else but God is the truth. For this, Mansoor was hanged. Before his death, he said (paraphrasing), “Now stands nothing between Truth and me.” This historical event inspired many Sufi writers/poets, and is turned into an oft-used metaphor for speaking the truth, uninhibitedly; and for bold thoughts on the Creator-creation relationship. The metaphor and reference to this incidence are found in Sufi, Persian, and Urdu poetry.]


[Khaab murthay nahin

Khaab dil hain na aankhain, na saansaein kay jo

rayza-rayza hoo-way tho bikhar ja-engay

jism ki mauth say yey bhi mur jaengay.


Khaab murthay nahin

Khaab tho raush-ni hain, navaa hain, havaa hain

jo kaalay pahaa-rawn say rukh-thay nahin

zulm kay do-zukhawn say  bhi phuk-they nahin

raush-ni aur nava aur hava ke aalum

maqh-thal-awn main pa-huncj kar bhi jhukh-thay nahin


Khaab tho harf hain

Khaab tho noor hain

Khaab tho Sukhraath hain

Khaab Mansoor hain]


2.  Perhaps it’d be agony… ('Run'jish he sahee')


Perhaps it’d be agony but

do come over

if only

to torture my heart,

to abandon me again.

Maybe we aren't on good terms

but do come over

if only

to keep up an appearance

for the world.

How many times can I tell people

why we aren’t together;

I know you’re upset with me

but do come over

if only

for the people to see.

Have some regard for my love,

come over sometime

if only

just to acknowledge that love.

For much too long I haven’t tasted

that aching desire,

do come over

if only

to make me cry again.

For some time, my delusional heart

had been looking for you,

do come over

if only

to snuff out the last candles.



[Run'jish he sahee  dil he dukha-nay kay li-yey  Aa

Aa phir se mujhay  chhor  kay  jaanay kay li-yey Aa


Pahles say  maraasim na sahee phir bhi kabhi tho

rasm-o-rah-- duniya he nibha-nay kay li-yey  Aa


kis kis ko batha-engay  juda-ee  ka sabub hum

thu mujh say khafa hai tho zama-nay kay li-yey  Aa


kuch tho meray pindar-e-muhab-buth  ka bharam rakh

thu bhi  tho kabhi mujh ko mana-nay  kay li-yey  Aa


ek umr say hoon  luzzath-e-giriya say bhi meh-room

ai ra-huth-e-jaan  mujh ko rula-nay kay li-yey Aa


ub tuk dil-e-khush-fa-hem ko tujh say hain um-meedain  

yey  Aa-khri shum main bhi bu-jhanay kay liye aa ]


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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