Posts filed under ‘Urdu’

Shaam

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Listen (to Faiz read)

is tarah hai ke har ek peR ko’ii mandir hai
ko’ii ujRaa huaa, benuur puraanaa mandir
DhuunDtaa hai jo Kharaabii ke bahaane kab se
chaak har baam, har ek dar kaa dam-e-aaKhir hai
aasmaaN ko’ii purohit hai jo har baam tale
jism par raaKh male, maathe pe sinduur male
sar-niguuN baithaa hai chup-chaap na jaane kab se
is tarah hai ke pas-e-pardaa ko’ii saahir hai

jis ne aafaaq pe phailaayaa hai yuN seh’r ka daam
daaman-e-vaqt se paivast hai yuN daamna-e-shaam
ab kabhii shaam bujhegii na andheraa hogaa
ab kabhii raat Dhalegii na saveraa hogaa

aasmaaN aas liye hai ke ye jaaduu TuuTe
chup ki zanjiir kaTe, vaqt kaa daaman chhuTe
de ko’ii shanKh duhayii, ko’ii paayal bole
ko’ii but jaage, ko’ii saaNvlii ghuuNGhat khole

Translation by Agha Shahid Ali

Evening

The trees are dark ruins of temples,
seeking excuses to tremble
since who knows when–
their roofs are cracked,
their doors lost to ancient winds.
And the sky is a priest,
saffron marks on his forehead,
ashes smeared on his body.
He sits by the temples, worn to a shadow, not looking up.

Some terrible magician, hidden behind curtains,
has hypnotized Time
so this evening is a net
in which the twilight is caught.
Now darkness will never come–
and there will never be morning.

The sky waits for this spell to be broken,
for history to tear itself from this net,
for Silence to break its chains
so that a symphony of conch shells
may wake up to the statues
and a beautiful, dark goddess,
her anklets echoing, may unveil herself.

(from The Rebel’s Silhouette)

[blackmamba]

May 23, 2008 at 6:42 am 8 comments

Tanhaa’i

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Listen (to Faiz read)

phir ko’ii aayaa, dil-e-zaar! nahiin, ko’ii nahiin;
raah-rau hogaa, kahiin aur chalaa jaaegaa.
dhal chukii raat, bikharne lagaa taaron kaa ghubaar,
larkharaane lage aiwaanon mein khwaabiida charaagh,
so ga’ii raasta tak takke har ek rah guzaar;
ajnabi khaak ne dhundlaa diye qadmon ke suraagh.

gul karo shamiin, barhaa do mai-o-miinaa-o-ayaagh,
apne be khwaab kivaaron ko muqaffal kar lo;
ab yahaan ko’ii nahiin, ko’ii nahiin aayega!

Solitude

Someone, finally, is here! No, unhappy heart, no one –
just a passerby on his way.
The night has surrendered
to clouds of scattered stars.
The lamps in the hall waver.
Having listened with longing for steps,
the roads too are fast asleep.
A strange dust has buried every footprint.

Blow out the lamps, break the glasses, erase
all memory of wine. Heart,
bolt forever your sleepless doors,
tell every dream that knocks to go away.
No one, now no one will ever return.

Tr. by Agha Shahid Ali

More Faiz.

[blackmamba]

May 17, 2008 at 12:57 am 13 comments

Paas Raho

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Listen (to Faiz read)

tum mere paas raho
mere qaatil, mere dildaar, mere paas raho
jis gha.Dii raat chale
aasamaano.n kaa lahuu pii kar siyah raat chale
marham-e-mushk liye nashtar-e-almaas chale
bain karatii hu_ii, ha.Nsatii hu_ii, gaatii nikale
dard kii kaasanii paazeb bajaatii nikale
jis gha.Dii siino.n me.n Duubate huye dil
aastiino.nme.n nihaa.N haatho.n kii rah takane nikale
aas liye
aur bachcho.n ke bilakhane kii tarah qul-qul-e-may
bahr-e-naasudagii machale to manaaye na mane
jab ko_ii baat banaaye na bane
jab na ko_ii baat chale
jis gha.Dii raat chale
jis gha.Dii maatamii, sun-saan, siyah raat chale
paas raho
mere qaatil, mere dildaar, mere paas raho

Be Near Me

You who demolish me, you whom I love,
be near me. Remain near me when evening,
drunk on the blood of skies,
becomes night, in the other
a sword sheathed in the diamond of stars.

Be near me when night laments or sings,
or when it begins to dance,
its stell-blue anklets ringing with grief.

Be here when longings, long submerged
in the heart’s waters, resurface
and everyone begins to look:
Where is the assasin? In whose sleeve
is hidden the redeeming knife?

And when wine, as it is poured, is the sobbing
of children whom nothing will console–
when nothing holds,
when nothing is:
at that dark hour when night mourns,
be near me, my destroyer, my lover me,
be near me.

Agha Shahid Ali’s translation. From The Rebel’s Silhouette

[blackmamba]

May 13, 2008 at 5:45 pm 5 comments

Aah ko chahiye

Mirza Ghalib

Listen (to Begum Akhtar sing) [1]

aah ko chaahiye ik umr asar hone tak
kaun jiitaa hai tirii zulf ke sar hone tak

daam-e har mauj mein hai halqah-e sad kaam-e nihang
dekhein kyaa guzre hai qatre pah guhar hone tak

aashiqii sabr-talab aur tamannaa betaab
dil kaa kyaa rang karuun khun-e jigar hone tak

ham ne maanaa kih tagaaful na karoge lekin
khaak ho jaaeinge ham tum ko khabar hone tak

partav-e khur se hai shabnam ko fanaa ki taaliim
main bhii huun ek inaayat kii nazar hone tak

yak nazar besh nahiin fursat-e hastii gaafil
garmii-e bazm hai ik raqs-e sharar hone tak

gam-e hastii kaa asad kis se ho juz marg ilaaj
shamma har rang mein jaltii hai sahar hone tak

Translation (by Sarvat Rahman):

The sighs of love a life-time need, their object to attain,
Who lives long enough for your dark mysteries to attain?

In the net of each ocean-wave open a hundred dragon mouths,
To be a pearl, a water-drop what ordeals must sustain!

True love calls for patience, desire’s of impatience made,
Till suffering consumes me quite, how should my heart remain?

You will not be indifferent, I know, but nevertheless,
Dead and in the dust I’ll be when news of me you obtain.

The morning sun’s ardent rays spell death to each dew-drop,
I, too, exist only until, to glance at me you deign.

A single glance, no more, is the space of life, unaware!
For no longer than the spark’s dance does the gathering’s warmth remain.

The suffering that is life, ASAD, knows no cure but death,
All through the night must the candle burn, no matter what its pain.

Translation (mine) :

It takes a lifetime for a sigh to take effect
Who lives to see your hair perfectly arranged?

A hundred mouths whisper the net of every wave
Look what the speck endures till it becomes a pearl.

Love demands patience, desire is restless
What color shall I paint the heart, until you savage it?

You shan’t ignore me when the time comes, I know, but
I may turn to dust before the news reaches you.

Each drop of dew learns death from the rays of the sun
I too await release at a glance from you.

One glance, no more, fills the span of my life
The dance of a single spark that keeps the company warm.

Life is suffering, Asad, and has no cure but death
The flame burns in every color until the dawn.

The problem with posting Ghalib is a problem of translation. So compressed is Ghalib’s imagery, so rich in sound and nuance his language, that it is almost impossible to render his ghazals in English without mauling them beyond recognition. I admire Sarvat Rahman’s courage in taking on the entire Diwan-e-Ghalib – translating all 234 ghazals while retaining their form – but I have to say that the results, as with the translation above, make me cringe. I’ve tried to provide my own rendition, but even that doesn’t come close to the original. How does one begin to translate a line as brilliant as “dil ka kya rang karoon, khoon-e-jigar hone tak”? How does one convey the richness of its color (the word incarnadined springs to mind), the quality of the sentiment, the sense of quasi-paradox – all without losing the shortness, the simplicity of Ghalib’s original?

Trying to translate Ghalib, I am always reminded of these lines from Byron:

“To such as see thee not my words were weak;
To those who gaze on thee what language could they speak?”

Still, here it is. For those of you who speak Urdu, this ghazal should require no introduction, and its gloriousness should sing from every line. For those who don’t know the language, hopefully there’s enough in these butchered translations of ours to convey the exquisite intelligence that moves through this poem, the sheer lyricism of a master whose every couplet stands as a poem in its own right, and whose words, a century and a half after they were written, continue to be quoted by millions.

[falstaff]

[1] Begum Akhtar only sings couplets 1,3,4 and 7. Another, perhaps more familiar version of the same couplets as sung by Jasjit Singh can be found (also on YouTube) here.

November 4, 2007 at 4:14 pm 21 comments

Rang pairahan ka, khushboo zulf lehrane kaa naam

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Listen

Rang pairahan ka, khushboo zulf lehrane kaa naam
Mousam-e-gul hai tumhare baam par aane ka naam

Doston us chasm-o-lab ki kuch kaho, jiske bagair
Gulistaan ki baat rangeen hai, na mehkhane ka naam

Phir nazar mein phool mehke, dil mein phir shamayen jali
Phir tasavvur ne liya us bazm mein jane ka naam

Dilbari thehra zabaan-e-khalk khulwane ka naam
Ab nahin lete pari-roo zulf bikhrane ka naam

Ab kisi laila ko bhi ikraar-e-mehboobi nahin
In dinon badnaam hai har ek deewane ka naam

Muhatsib ki khair, uncha hai usi ke faiz se
Rind ka, saaki ka,may ka, khum ka, paimane ka naam.

Hum se kehte hain chaman vale, gareebane chaman
Tum koi accha sa rakh lo apne veerane ka naam

Faiz unko hai takazaa-e-vafa humse jinhe
Aashna ke naam se pyaara hai begaane ka naam.

English Translation (mine):

Colour is a dress, fragrance is a name for your flowing tresses.
Your appearance at the window gives the Spring its name.

Say something about this sight, my friends, without which
neither the garden would have colour, nor the tavern have a name.

Again the eye fills with the scent of flowers, again the heart is lit with a leaping flame;
Imagination exults, and hesitating no longer, rejoins this happy company again.

Romance is a trick to set the tongues of the world wagging,
now even those with angel faces must keep their tresses tamed.

No beloved will now declare her desire openly
for where is the lover who is not defamed?

Praise to the naysayers! for by their grace
the drunkard, bartender, wine, cask and shotglass have their fame.

Those with the gardens say to us, “You, out there,
why don’t you give your wilderness a pretty name?”

Faiz, they demand faith from us now, who
would rather be outsiders than bear a lover’s name.

Not Faiz’s greatest ghazal, perhaps, but one I’m fond of, if only for those two glorious couplets at the end. I’ve tried to emulate the pattern of end rhymes (though without a refrain), though obviously this has meant taking some luxuries with the text.

[falstaff]

October 9, 2007 at 6:14 pm 6 comments

Kuch kahti hai har raah har ek raahguzar se

Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Listen

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.

[falstaff]

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.

April 7, 2007 at 11:14 pm 2 comments

Nazm Uljhi Hui Hai Seene Mein

Gulzar

Listen (to Vivek read)

nazm uljhi hui hai seene mein
misare atke hue hain hothon par
udate phirte hain titaliyon ki tarah
lafz kaagaz pe baithate hi nahin
kab se baithaa hun main jaanam
saade kaagaz pe likh ke naam tera
bas tera naam hi mukammal hai
is se behtar bhi nazm kyaa hogi

We haven’t run any urdu poems in a while, so here is a wonderful nazm by Gulzar. And a new guest contributor, Vivek, who does a great reading of the same.

Vivek writes, So simple and yet so beautiful….Such a fabulous way of expressing what simply boils down to ” My love, to me your name is the most beautiful and the very best verse that I can possibly write. And so whenever i sit down to write something I cant go beyond putting down your name on a blank sheet.” I absolutely love this one and so I chose this nazm.

Gulzar is among the most popular lyricists in Bollywood and an acclaimed and sensitive film-maker.

And translation (Thx Falstaff)

A poem is trapped inside me.
Metaphors catch at my lips,
words hover like butterflies
never settling on paper.
I have sat for hours writing
your name on a blank page.
Only your name is beautiful.
What other poem is there?

[blackmamba]

February 28, 2007 at 8:29 am 10 comments

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