The Houri and the Poet:  Iqbal in Payam-e-Mashriq
Dr. Zafar M. Iqbal
TCCI, Chicago, IL


Allama  Iqbal wrote Payam-e-Mashriq in Farsi (1923), not just in response but also as a  tribute to Goethe, the German poet-philosopher he admired -- perhaps as much as he did Ghalib.

This is my translation of ‘Hoor wo Shaer’ (The Houri and the Poet), Iqbal’s specific response to Goethe’s ‘Huri’ and ‘Dichter’ from Einlass & Anklang, ‘Chuld Nameh’ (Book of Paradise),  West-Osterlich Diwan (East-West Diwan).  This is included in my forthcoming book, ‘Iqbal: His Poetry and Philosophy’:


 The Houri


You don’t look at me,

don’t touch the wine.

Strange, you know

so little of love.


In each song you sing,

each breath you take,

there’s a quest,

an aching hope!


In these songs you create

such a beautiful world that

Paradise seems to me 

just a mirage.


  The Poet


You steal travelers’ heart

with your tart tongue.

The prick of a thorn,

a delicious pain.


To stay put, not my nature!

My soul,  restless 

like a breeze blowing

through a garden.


Soon as my eyes find

a beauty, my young heart

begins to ache for another, 

more beautiful.


From a spark to a star

and from a  star to the sun

I move on. No place to rest.

To stop and rest: death to me.


When I rise, I rise

drunk with springtime,

songs of spring stirring

out of my instrument.


I seek the ends of

what is endless, with

undying hope in my heart ,

restless desire in my eyes.


What’s the use of an eternal Heaven --

with no pain,  and no one to share it with me?

A loving heart shuns

an easy and eternal Heaven.


Romanized Farsi original




Na ba badaay mail-dari,  na bam un nazar gusha-ay

Ajub  ainkh thoo nadaani rah-o-rusum aash-na-ay

Huma saaz jisthoo-joo-ee, huma soz aar-zoo-ay

Nufsi kay may-gudazee, ghuzli kay mi  sara-ay

Ba nawa-ee aafreedi chay jahaan dil-gusha-ay

Kay arum ba chashm ayad cho thilism see-miya-ay




Dil reh-rawan faraibi ba kalaam naish dari

Magar ainkhay luzzath aw nersud ba noak-e-khari

Chay-kunum kay fithruth mun ba mukhaam der  na-saazd

Dil na-saboor  da-rum cho saba bo lala zari

Cho nazar qaraar gee-rud ba nigaar khoob-roo-ay

Tha-pud aan zaman dil mun pi  khoob-thur nigaari

Za sharur sitara jo-yum za sitara aaftaabi

Sur munzali nidarum kay bameerum uz qaraari

Cho za bada-e-bahari khud-hee khushaida kheezum

Ghuzli deegar sara-em ba hawa-ee naw-bahaari

Thalubum ne-ha-yuth aan kay ne-ha-yuthi na-darad

Ba nigha-ay na-shakaibi ba dil umeedwari
dil aashiq-aana ba-meerud ba ba-hishth jaavedaani

Na nawai durd-mundi na ghumi nag hum-gusaari


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
2004 . All Rights Reserved.