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Michael R Burch Apr 2020
The Eager Traveler
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Even in the torture chamber, I was the lucky one;
When each lottery was over, unaccountably I had won.

And even the mightiest rivers found accessible refuge in me;
Though I was called an arid desert, I turned out to be the sea.

And how sweetly I remember you, oh, my wild, delectable love—
Like the purest white blossoms, on talented branches above.

And while I’m half-convinced that folks adore me in this town,
Still, all the hands I kissed held knives and tried to shake me down.

You lost the battle, my coward friend, my craven enemy,
When, to victimize my lonely soul, you sent a despoiling army.

Lost in the wastelands of vast love, I was an eager traveler,
Like a breeze in search of your fragrance, a vagabond explorer.

Published in the anthology Eastern Promise

I Cannot Remember
by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I once was a poet too (you gave life to my words), but now I cannot remember
Since I have forgotten you (my love!), my art too I cannot remember

Yesterday consulting my heart, I learned
that your hair, lips, mouth, I cannot remember

In the city of the intellect insanity is silence
But now your sweet, spontaneous voice, its fluidity, I cannot remember

Once I was unfamiliar with wrecking ***** and ruins
But now the cultivation of gardens, I cannot remember

Now everyone shops at the store selling arrows and quivers
But neglects his own body, the client he cannot remember

Since time has brought me to a desert of such arid forgetfulness
Even your name may perish; I cannot remember

In this narrow state of being, lacking a country,
even the abandonment of my fellow countrymen, I cannot remember

Published in the anthology Eastern Promise

by Ahmad Faraz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Come, even with anguish, even to torture my heart;
Come, even if only to abandon me to torment again.

Come, if not for our past commerce,
Then to faithfully fulfill the ancient barbaric rituals.

Who else can recite the reasons for our separation?
Come, despite your reluctance, to continue the litanies, the ceremony.

Respect, even if only a little, the depth of my love for you;
Come, someday, to offer me consolation as well.

Too long you have deprived me of the pathos of longing;
Come again, my love, if only to make me weep.

Till now, my heart still suffers some slight expectation;
So come, ***** out even the last flickering torch of hope!

Ahmad Faraz [1931-2008], born Syed Ahmad Shah, was a Pakistani poet generally considered to be one of the greatest modern Urdu poets. Faraz was a poet accessible to ordinary readers due to his “fine but simple style of writing.” Ethnically a Hindkowan, he studied Persian and Urdu at Edwards College, then at Peshawar University, where he became a lecturer after receiving his Masters. During his time in college, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ali Sardar Jafri impressed him and became influences on his own work. Faraz was born in Kohat, Pakistan to Syed Muhammad Shah Barq. In an interview he recalled how his father once bought clothes for him and his brother on Eid. He didn't like the clothes meant for him, preferring the ones given to his elder brother. This lead him to write his first couplet:

Laye hain sab ke liye kapre sale se (He brought clothes for everybody from the sale)
Laye hain hamare liye kambal jail se (For me he brought a blanket from jail)

Faraz was an outspoken critic of Pakistan’s military dictatorship, saying, “My conscience will not forgive me if I remain a silent spectator of the sad happenings around us. The least I can do is to let the dictatorship know where it stands in the eyes of the concerned citizens whose fundamental rights have been usurped. I ... refuse to associate myself in any way with the regime ..."

Keywords/Tags: Ahmad Faraz, Pakistani, Urdu, Persian, translation, couplet, eager, traveler, love, mrburdu
Michael R Burch Apr 2020
Last Night
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart—
as spring sweeps uninvited into barren gardens,
as morning breezes reinvigorate dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason …

Published by Reader’s Digest (website) in "Best Romantic Poems"

Last Night (II)
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your memory stole into my heart ...
as spring steals uninvited into barren gardens,
as gentle breezes revive dormant deserts,
as a patient suddenly feels better, for no apparent reason ...

Last Night (III)
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Last night, your lost memory returned ...
as spring steals silently into barren gardens,
as gentle breezes stir desert sands,
as an ailing man suddenly recovers, for no apparent reason ...

Raat yunh dil mein teri khoee hui yaad aayee
Jaise veeraaney mein chupkey sey bahaar aayee
Jaisey sehra on mein howley se chaley baadey naseem
Jaisey beemaar ko bey wajhey Qaraar aaye.

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight!
Days smoldering with pain end up in ashes
and who the hell knows what the future may bring?
Last night’s long lost, tomorrow's horizon’s a wavering mirage,
and how can we know if we’ll see another dawn?
Life is nothing, unless together we make it ring!
Tonight we are gods! Sing!

Do not strike the melancholy chord tonight!
Don’t harp constantly on human suffering!
Stop complaining; let Fate conduct her song!
Give no thought to the future, seize now, this precious thing!
Shed no more tears for temperate seasons long vanished!
All sighs and cries soon weakly dissipate ... stop dithering!
Oh, do not strike the same flat chord again!

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, as performed by Iqbal Bano
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

In the wastelands of solitude, my love,
the echoes of your voice quiver,
the mirages of your lips waver.

In the deserts of alienation,
out of the expanses of distance and isolation's debris
the fragrant jasmines and roses of your presence delicately blossom.

Now from somewhere nearby,
the warmth of your breath rises,
smoldering forth an exotic perfume?gently, languorously.

Now far-off, across the distant horizon,
drop by shimmering drop,
fall the glistening dews of your beguiling glances.

With such tenderness and affection—oh my love!—
your memory has touched my heart's cheek so that it now seems
the sun of separation has set; the night of blessed union has arrived.

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

You have noticed her forehead, her cheeks, her lips ...
In whose imagination I have lost everything.

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

I recounted the world's countless griefs
by recounting your image countless times.

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Speak, if your lips are free.
Speak, if your tongue is still your own.
While your body is still upright,
Speak if your life is still your own.

When Autumn Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

So it was that autumn came to flay the trees,
to strip them ****,
to rudely abase their slender dark bodies.

Fall fell in vengeance on the dying leaves,
flung them down to the floor of the forest
where anyone could trample them to mush
undeterred by their sighs of protest.

The birds that herald spring
were exiled from their songs—
the notes ripped from their sweet throats,
they plummeted to the earth below, undone
even before the hunter strung his bow.

Please, gods of May, have mercy!
Bless these disintegrating corpses
with the passion of your resurrection;
allow their veins to pulse with blood again.

Let at least one tree remain green.
Let one bird sing.

Do Not Ask
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz
loose translation by Michael R. Burch

Do not ask, my love, for the love that we shared before:
You existed, I told myself, so existence shone.
For a moment the only light that I knew, alone,
was yours; worldly griefs remained dark, distant, afar.

Spring shone, as revealed in your face, but what did I know?
Beyond your bright eyes, what delights could the sad world hold?
Had I won you, cruel Fate would have ceded, no longer bold.
Yet all this was not to be, though I wished it so.

The world knows sorrows beyond love’s brief dreams betrayed,
and pleasures beyond all sweet, idle ideals of romance:
the dread dark spell of countless centuries and chance
is woven with silk and satin and gold brocade.

Bodies are sold everywhere for a pittance—it’s true!
Besmeared with dirt and bathed in bright oceans of blood,
Crawling from infested ovens, a gory cud.
My gaze returns to you: what else can I do?

Your beauty haunts me still, and will to the last.
But the world is burdened by sorrows beyond those of love,
By pleasures beyond romance.
So please do not demand a love that is over, and past.

Keywords/Tags: Ahmed Faiz, translation, Urdu, Pakistan, Pakistani, love, life, memory, spring, mrburdu
if you were to rise
against the lashes
your spine bears
witness to.i know you
could burn the cities -
echoing enslaved
cries of your mother. or,
the cities tainted in
red, with the blood
of your father.

but, you don't.

for you know what it's like to lose
what you love.

(such is your love for a city that turned into rubble everything you
ever loved)
Àŧùl Oct 2016
I am surely not the best specimen of **** sapiens species,
But I surely am the best example of a human being there is.
I am surely having a huge gold heart deep inside my chest,
But I surely am not aware what good bring to me, would it.
I am usually never indulged in such petty self-glorification,
But I usually am indulged in environment & nation glorification.
I did not pollute the environment this Deepawali,
I made it a point not to use gasoline for short distances.

I surely may not even be a soldier of the Indian National Army,
But I surely am the best patriotic Indian being there is.
I am surely incapable of joining the Army as of now,
But I did not even buy any Chinese products lately.
I am of knowledge that the Chinese endorse terror,
Because they are supportive of Pakistan's motives.
The Chinese have ego problems - they don't let others be happy.
Protect the environment.
Boycott the Chinese.

HP Poem #1230
©Atul Kaushal
S M Aug 2016
When the guests arrived we would hasten to sit in separate rooms.

Quick to cover and observe deep voices through walls,
Men with domed hats and flowing kameez would arrive and wait
for steaming chaaval,
brought in a mound topped with cloves.

Dishes placed and eyes down, they would acknowledge with
half nods,
hairy knuckles to pour the saalan over geometric bowls.

My aunts would hush in the kitchen,
pinning their scarves in a zig-zag fashion.
The colours burning from the tiles,
watching them made me dizzy and inside
I longed
that my plait would one day thread gold like theirs.

Timed silence was a key,
and a pyramid that was never fell,
unlike the tasks that could be
stitched to your hands,
structured stiff – like a testing lap.

Boiled milk in china cups,
there would be nods, gap-tooth smiles, low chatter
with ears pricked to
the humming of satisfaction within.
Sounds through division that showed that yes,
in the right hands
the colours could burn brightly,
and that yes,
in a brush of joint henna,
we would stand separate from your

Vision of us.
kameez = long garment
chaaval = rice
saalan = gravy type sauce

For a heads up.
Moji K Apr 2016
the colour of freedom
a whispered memory
a mother's touch

the colour of blood
needlessly spilled
a river in the streets

the colour of despair
but a remnant
of the candle's flame

a colour of...
it must be a colour
the pallor painting the father's-

it seems lost
among heartache, loss
will the memory ever fade?

the sky under which children play
will they again?
for the sky is grey

the mother's nation
birthed of strife, breach
shining through

— The End —