Four Poems Of Faiz


Tr. from the Urdu by Kuldip Salil

                                Speak Up

Speak up, for you are free to speak
Speak up, for as yet you are master of your tongue
Your sturdy body is as yet your own,
Speak up, for there is life in the body still.

See the flames leaping up
See the red iron hot
See the lock opening and chains loosening
At the blacksmith’s shop.

Speak up, for the little time you have is a lot,
Speak up, let the whole truth come out,
Before the body dies and life ebbs away
Speak you up and say what you have to say.


                To the Political Leader

Like a straw, struggling against a torrent of the ocean
Like a butterfly flapping its wings against the mountain-side,

For years, these helpless hands have been
Tearing at the dark and heavy bosom of the night;

And now so many wounds appear
On this bosom that on whichever side you look
You see a mesh woven by light

And hear a distinct sound of the pulsating dawn.
These hands are your only asset
You surely don’t want them to be overwhelmed by darkness.

Can you then surrender these hands
And allow the dawn, pulsating in the east
To be buried under the heavy weight of night?


The Dawn of Freedom – August 1947

This light all stained, the morning bitten by night
This is not the dawn we looked forward to,
This is not the dawn we set out for,
Hoping that somewhere in the wildness of the sky
There must be the final destination of stars,
Somewhere the slow languorous night    
Will meet its shore
And somewhere ultimately the heart’s agony will end.

Youthful and determined, as we comrades set out
Countless hands caught us by the sleeve
Seductive arms and bodies
Kept beckoning us from their dreamy bed chambers,
But we held the face of the dawn so dear
And the hem of luminous beauty looked so near,
While we experienced mild fatigue and delicate longing.


Lullaby to the Palestinian Children

Do not cry, my child
Your mother has just slept after weeping a long while,

Do not cry, my child
Only some time back, your father has departed
Relieved of all sorrow,
Do not cry my child.
Your brother is away to an alien land
And your sister has gone away the same way.
Do not cry my child.

They have just bathed the dead son and buried the
moon in your courtyard,
Do not cry my child,
Your mother, father, brother and sister
Along with the sun and the moon     
Will make you cry all the more,

And if you smile
There is a real possibility,
That all of them in disguise
Will come and play with you.

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