Iqbal Inspired by English Poets
By Dr Zafar M. Iqbal
Chicago, IL

Before he went to England, Iqbal, inspired by some English poets, wrote several poems. In Baang-e-Dara (Part 1, till 1905), for instance, there is one titled, Payam-e-Subha, which is based on a poem by a well-known American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882). Although Iqbal did not identify the poem, I think it is probably “Daybreak.”

On Western poets, philosophers and other themes, he wrote many other poems in ‘Payam-e-Mashriq’, which is in Farsi, written in response to West-östlicher Divan   or  West-Eastern Divan by the German poet-philosopher, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

From my forthcoming book on ‘Iqbal: Poetry and Philosophy’, I present here my translation of Iqbal’s poem, and what inspired it.

Dawn’s Message (Payam-e- subha)

(based on Longfellow)


As the starry, sparkling night left,

the breeze brought in the morning light,

awakened the nightingale in the garden

aroused the farmer by the field’s border,

broke the night’s spell with a Qur’anic verse [1]

snatched golden crown from the dark chamber,

told those sleeping in temples to wake up

informed the Brahmin of the morning sun,

came to the Mosque to say to the Muezzin [2]

not to worry much about the morning sun,

shouted from the garden wall to the buds

to burst open, ‘you are the Muezzin of Garden’,

ordered the caravans in the desert to move

as every speck of the desert is about to glow,

and said, arriving from the lively town to

the silent cemetery: ‘Keep resting,

I’ll be back again after I put

rest of the world to sleep and

wake you up from your dreams[3].


[1] Sura Noor, The Qur’an (The Light, Verse 24).

[2] One who calls Muslims to prayers (Azaan), 5 times daily.

[3] Day of Resurrection.

Romanized Urdu Original: ‘Payam-e-Subha’, Makhooz uz Longfellow

Ujala jub huwa rukhsuth-e-jabeen-e-shub ki ufshaan ka

Naseem-e-zindagi paighaam la-yiy subha-e-khundan ka

Juga-ya bulbul-e-rungeen nawa ko aashiyanay main

Kinaray khaith kayshana hilaya is nay daikhan ka

Thilusm-e-zulmuth-e-shub sura-el-Noor say thora

Undhairay main uraya taj-e-zur shama-e-shabisthan ka

Purha khabeedagan-e-dyr pur afsoon-e-baydfaari

Brahmin ko diya paigham-e-khursheed dur-ikshaan ka

Ho-wee baam-e-hiram pur aakay yun goya mo-ezzun say

Nahin khut-ka theray dil main namood-e-mihr tabaan ka

Pukari is therha deewaar-gulshan pr kharay ho ker

Chutuk aw guncha-e-gul! Thoo mo-ezzan haii gulsthan ka

Diya yeh hukm sehra main, chalo aye khafila walo!

Chumknay ko hai jugnoo bun kay her zrra biyabaan ka

Soo-e-gor-e-gharebaan jub ga-ee zindawn ki busthi say

Tho yun boli nazaara daykh ker shahr-e-khamooshaan ka

Abhi araam say laytay rahu mein phir bhi aawoon gi

Sula doongi jehan ko khab say thum ko juga-oon gi.


Daybreak (from Birds of Passage; Flight the First); Longfellow

A wind came up out of the sea,

And said, "O mists, make room for me."


It hailed the ships, and cried, "Sail on,

Ye mariners, the night is gone."


And hurried landward far away,

Crying, "Awake! it is the day."


It said unto the forest, "Shout!

Hang all your leafy banners out!"


It touched the wood-bird's folded wing,

And said, "O bird, awake and sing."


And o'er the farms, "O chanticleer,

Your clarion blow; the day is near."


It whispered to the fields of corn,

"Bow down, and hail the coming morn."


It shouted through the belfry-tower,

"Awake, O bell! proclaim the hour."


It crossed the churchyard with a sigh,

And said, "Not yet! in quiet lie."





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