Allama Iqbal:  Miscellany
By Dr Zafar  M.  Iqbal
TCCI, Chicago, IL

 

Iqbal uses short verses, sometimes just a couple of lines, to make various philosophical observations. 

At the end of ‘Payam-e-Mashriq’, which is in Persian, he grouped such verses in ‘Khurdah’, or what I term ‘Miscellany’.

 Here is my translation:

 

Our every cell

brims with passion,

every breath we take draws us

closer to the Doomsday.

 

Kizer told this to Alexander: [1]

Life is hard and

death, harder.

 

[1] Referring to Alexander, the Great, 356- 323 BC. 

Kizer, in Islamic tradition, is one of the four immortal prophets. Others are:  Idris (Enoch), Ilyas (Elias) and Eesa (Jesus).  Kizer is believed to be immortal because he drank from the fountain of life  -- a mysterious figure who, as the legend goes, shows up to people in need.

 

…..

 

The pearl knows well

the tumults in the river but

what does it know of

getting ground in a stone mill?

 

…..   

 

A hollow pen creaks

as  it writes;

a solid pencil glides on

noiselessly.

 

……

 

With an idol under arm,

I circumambulated the Ka’aba

and shouted out Allah’s name

to the idols.

 

My heart still seeks You

though the path I am on

is narrower than

a hair’s breadth.

 

….

 

Happy is the early spring,

said a flower --

happier is a day in the garden,

than a lifetime elsewhere.

 

Before someone plucks it

to adorn his cap,

better to fall and die

on a garden path.

 

…..

 

Both the old and young are

a child to the poet,

how does age matter

in poetry?

 

…..

 

Three things pleasing to your eyes:

green pasture, flowing water, beautiful faces.

Silk robe, happy times and appetizing aroma,

three things not good for your looks.

 

…..

 

What can I tell you

about Life, brother  ?

Dream is a short death,

death, a long sleep.

 

.….

 

If you cannot forgive those

who wronged you and

let hate take root in you, resist it:

don’t mix vinegar with  the honey.

 

…..

 

Don’t talk about how sensitive our poet is

when  a whiff of wind can break his glass; 

how can he talk about life’s miseries when

he turns ashen at the sound of a bursting bubble.

 

…..

 

Be a stream in this world that

lives with the ups and downs of  life,

or, be a stormy sea that

ignores such things in its way.

 

…..

 

If you pluck a flower,

don’t complain about the thorn;

the spring lets also a thorn  

grown by a flower.

 

…..

 

Don’t dye your hair: how can you

steal back the youth this way?

 

…..

 

Love has no respect for

those who cannot dare;

eagle does not touch

the bird,  already dead.

 

…..

 

Poetry is not sold in the market;

a flower doesn’t buy you bread.

 

…..

 

It would have been nice if we

could travel unburdened by the past.

If unquestioned obedience were good,

the Prophet too would have obeyed others.

 

 

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