Kuch kahti hai har raah har ek raahguzar se
Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Phir lauta hai khurshid-e-jahaantaab safar se
Phir noor-e-sahar dast-o-garebaan hai sahar se.
Phir aag bharakne lagi har saaz-e-tarab mein
Phir sholay lapakne lage har deeda-e-tar se.
Phir niklaa deewana koi phoonk ke ghar ko
Kuch kahti hai har raah har ek raahguzar se.
Vo rang hai imsaal gulistaan ki fazaa ka
Ojhal hui deewar-e-kaphas hadd-e-nazar se
Saagar to khanakte hain sharaab aaye na aaye
Baadal to garajte hain ghata barse na barse.
Paaposh ki kya fikr hai, dastaar samhaalo
Paayab hai jo mouj guzar jayegi sar se.
English Translation (mine):
Again the sun returns, bathing the world in its journey,
Again the morning light goes hand in glove with the sky.
Again the fire roars in every merry song,
Again the flames leap from every weeping eye.
Again a madman leaves, having set fire to his house
And every path says something to every passer by.
That colour is implicated in the garden’s very air,
Obscured the prison walls from the limits of the eye.
The glasses will rattle, whether the liquor flows or not
The clouds will thunder, whether it rains or stays dry.
Don’t worry about shoes now, better look to your turban
This wave that laps at your feet will soon be head high.
It’s been a while since we ran any Faiz so I figured it was time. This isn’t really one of Faiz’s finest ghazals, but it’s one that I personally am rather fond of. It starts off slowly – the first two couplets are nice but hardly spectacular, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, you get ‘phir nikla hai deewana phoonk ke ghar ko’. It’s a stunning line, its explosive impact doubled by the fact that Faiz lulls you into a sense of predictability with his repetition of the ‘phir’ (again) starting, and by the casual way Faiz tosses the image in, as though a madman setting fire to his house were a daily occurence (which, in Faiz’s imagery it is, of course). It’s as though Faiz had tossed a grenade into the poem and then timidly shut the door.
From there on the poem just gets better and better. The fourth couplet is glorious and the fifth ends with one of the cleverest rhymes I’ve ever seen done in a ghazal (and which no translation can ever hope to duplicate), the ‘ar se’ sound flowing so naturally in at the end that I always find myself forced to do a double take just to make sure that he did actually have a rhyme there. This ghazal is so much fun, that by the time you get to that swinging last couplet you can almost feel the exhilaration of it sweeping over you, just like the wave that Faiz ends by warning you about.
P.S. A note on the translation – I’ve taken a few more liberties with the text than I usually like to do, mostly because I wanted to write the translation as a ghazal (the first line doesn’t really rhyme with the second, but it’s close enough). Frankly, no translation was going to do justice to this poem anyway.