Monday, 31 March 2008

Ghalib - Phir mujhe diidaa-e-tar yaad aayaa

Let's return to Ghalib today. One of his all-time classics, full of typical ghalibian word-play and brilliance.

phir mujhe diida-e-tar yaad aayaa
dil jigar-tishnaa-e-fariyaad aayaa

फिर मुझे दीदा-ए-तर याद आया
दिल जिगर-तिष्ना-ए-फरियाद आया

I again remembered the wet eye
(as) the heart became thirsty-livered of lament

A very nice way to set off a magical ghazal. The chief charm of the sher comes from the play on the words involving 'wet' eyes, and 'thirsty’ liver, combined with the idiomatic expression 'jigar-tishnaa honaa' ('to be ardently desirous').
The whole thing hinges on the oft-repeated principle of ghazal physiology we've looked at earlier - wherein the Lover's liver (jigar) functions as a manufacturing plant for blood, while the heart constantly spills it out through the eyes in the form of blood-tears.

The sher evokes a situation where the liver seems to have reached the end of its manufacturing capacities, because of which the eyes are falling dry. While the heart, discontentedly, wants to continue its tearful laments. But the idiomatic expression used to signify this desire of the heart, namely, 'jigar-tishnaa-e-faryaad' itself links up beautifully with the physiological situation evoked in the sher - for a liver that has run out of blood is truly 'thirsty' in a metaphorical sense too, isn't it?

dam liyaa thaa na qayaamat ne hanuuz
phir teraa waqt-e-safar yaad aayaa

दम लिया था ना क़यामत ने हनूज़
फिर तेरा वक़्त-ए-सफर याद आया

The apocalypse had barely paused (for a moment)
(that) I again remembered the moment of your departure!

Ha! Typical over-the-top hyperbole of the ghazal world, but sweetly said nevertheless.
‘Hanooz’ means something like ‘still’ or ‘yet’, hence the first line translates approximately to ‘qayaamat hadn’t even paused for a breath yet’. And the second line cutely adds that even in that infinitesimal moment when doom was merely on the verge of taking a breather, the poet’s mind flitted back to the moment when the Beloved had taken her leave. A departure that might have been the very cause of the apocalypse, of course (and hence, reconsideration of which would have the effect of setting off a fresh qayaamat!) Or alternatively, a departure that, for the poet, represents a much greater cataclysm than doomsday itself – the latter presenting little more than a tedious distraction from the constant brooding over the former – because of which the apocalypse is put out of the mind as soon as it halts, even momentarily.

saadagiihaa-e-tamannaa yaanii
phir vo nairang-e-nazar yaad aayaa

सादगीहा-ए-तमन्ना यानी
फिर वो नैरंग-ए-नज़र याद आया

The simplicities of desire - that is,
that deception of sight again came to mind!

The first line constitutes a sort of wry, bemused exclamation – something like “oh, look at the naïveté of longing!” The poet’s bemusement is occasioned by the fact that he is unable to keep his mind off the Beloved , despite the fact that her accessibility is nothing more than an inveigling mirage (‘nairang’ means a deliberately created illusion, a sleight of hand, or a wily deceit). As in the previous sher, the punch-word of this one is, of course, the ‘phir’ of the second line – indicating the persistently recurring nature of the Beloved’s chimeric memory.
This is a rare Ghalib sher that doesn’t attempt to do much – simply presents a starkly lovable picture of the enduring dilemma of unrequited love.

ujr-e-vaamaandagii ai hasrat-e-dil
naalaa kartaa thaa jigar yaad aayaa

उज्र-ए-वामान्दगी ऐ हसरत-ए-दिल
नाला करता था जिगर याद आया

Excuse of lethargy, o desire of the heart,
(I) was lamenting (when I) remembered (/thought about) the liver

Put slightly more obliquely here, but it is the same liver-heart physiology that is evoked again in this sher.
In the first line, the poet offers his excuses to the longing in his heart, for the apparent show of lethargy on his part. And then goes on to explain that he was energetically engaged in weeping (as his unrequited desires expect him to do), but has stopped because he suddenly realized how much of a strain all this tear-shedding must be on the poor jigar, as it struggles to keep pace!

zindagii yuu.n bhii guzar hii jaatii
kyuu.n teraa raah-guzar yaad aayaa

ज़िंदगी यूँ भी गुज़र ही जाती
क्यूं तेरा राह-गुज़र याद आया

Life would have passed itself even otherwise (somehow)
Why did (I have to) think of your pathway?

What a beautiful sher that is! With such a hauntingly simple and colloquial touch does Ghalib capture the futility of a lifetime spent hounding the Beloved’s lane in vain. At the end of such a life, all the poet can do is observe with rueful self-disgust – ‘what a waste of time this has been! And it isn’t even as though I couldn’t have somehow got through life, if I hadn’t wasted it in hanging about her street!’
It is in the slight sense of doubt that one perceives in that last claim (captured eloquently in the ‘hii’ of the first line) that I find the greatest beauty of this sher. The poet has a vague kind of confidence that there must have been other (more worthwhile) ways to spend his life, but he doesn’t seem entirely sure what these could have been…since he himself, of course, hasn’t really done anything else in his life than hang around the beloved’s neighbourhood! And one gets the sense that if offered a second shot at life, he would still fail to find any worthwhile alternative pursuit!
In terms of its sound effects, it is the conjunction of the guzar of the first line with the raah-guzar of the second, which makes for the sher’s unique symphony.

aah vo jurrat-e-fariyaad kahaa.n
dil se tang aa ke jigar yaad aayaa

आह वो जुर्रत-ए-फरियाद कहाँ
दिल से तंग आ के जिगर याद आया

Oh, where is that capacity of lament (now)?!
Fed up with the heart, (I) remembered the liver!

This lovely sher can almost be seen as a ‘sequel’ to the first one of the ghazal. It once again evokes the dil-jigar physiological disjunction – but by this time, the liver has already kicked the bucket. And the heart, with its supply line cut off, is obviously incapable of much by way of lament (jurrat is literally ‘courage’ or ‘daring’). And the poet, desirous of lament but disgusted with the lethargy of his heart, nostalgically recalls the time when the liver was still alive…!

phir tere kuuche ko jaataa hai khayaal
dil-e-gham gashtaa magar yaad aayaa

फिर तेरे कूचे को जाता है ख़याल
दिल-ए-गम गश्ता मगर याद आया

The thought again goes towards your lane
However/Perhaps, (I) remembered the lost heart

Sweet! Most of the earlier shers in the ghazal had stressed how the Poet is unable to keep his mind off the Beloved. This one inserts a qualification – while the thoughts do regularly set off for the Beloved’s lane, the Poet tends to hold them back at the last moment, because he remembers that it was in that very treacherous locality that his (still-untraceable) heart had gone missing!

This isn't the only interpretation, though.  We tend to use magar only in the sense of ‘but’ or ‘however’ in everyday speech. However, the word is also used in Persian to mean something like ‘probably’ or ‘possibly’. And hence the sher could also have a meaning quite contrary to the one above – i.e., it may be because the poet remembers his mislaid heart that the thoughts are sent to the Beloved’s street – as a sort of search-party!

koi viiraanii sii viiraanii hai
dasht ko dekh ke ghar yaad aayaa
कोई वीरानी सी वीरानी है
दश्त को देख के घर याद आया

This is some desolate desolateness! / Is there any (truly) desolate desolateness?!
On seeing the desert (I) remembered (my) house!

This one is quite delightful! The first line is rich – it allows itself to be read in a variety of senses, each bestowing a different nuance, mood and meaning to the second.

In the first possible reading, the first line is an exclamation of emphasis – a sort of “Wow! This is what one should call true desolateness!!” And the second line substantiates this by evoking a situation where the desert reminds the poet of his own house – truly such a world would be very desolate indeed, since desolateness is pervasive here!

In an alternative reading, the first line expresses a sort of sheepish acknowledgement – “Oh, OK – This is how desolate true desolateness is!” - the idea being that before seeing the desert, the protagonist was wallowing in pity and considering his own house as the epitome of desolateness. However, when he finally does encounter the true desert, he ‘remembers his house’ i.e. returns tamely to it, much chastened! 

In yet another reading, the first line can be read as an expression of disdain – “Pooh! This is what they call desolateness?!” – the idea being that the Poet recalls his house as being much more desolate than what he is being shown now…

kyaa hii rijwaan se laRaaii hogii
ghar teraa khuld mei.n agar yaad aayaa

क्या ही रिजवान से लड़ाई होगी
घर तेरा खुल्द मे अगर याद आया

What a fight there will be with Rizwan
If, in paradise, your house comes to mind

Rizwan is, in Islamic mythology, the keeper of a garden in paradise. The sher seems to evoke a hypothetical situation where the poet, on remembering the Beloved’s house while he is in heaven, would compare Rizvan’s garden unfavourably with it. Which would, naturally, be resented by Rizwan, leading to an exchange of words.

However, another more subtle nuance also can be pulled from the sher – where ‘yaad aayaa’ is taken (like so often in this ghazal) to idiomatically mean the process of setting off for some place. In this sense, even when he is in paradise, the Poet might want to return to the Beloved’s house, which would, of course, lead to a bit of a tussle at the gates of paradise, as Rizwan tries to restrain the departing Poet!

Mai.n ne majnuu.n pe laRakpan mei.n Asad
sang uThaayaa thaa ki sar yaad aayaa

मैंने मजनूँ पे लड़कपन में असद
संग उठाया था कि सर याद आया
Asad, I had, in childishness, picked up a stone (to throw) on Majnoon,
When I remembered (my own) head!

Majnoon, the crazed protagonist of Nizami’s legendary romance, was often troubled by gangs of misguided stone-throwing boys, who wanted to mock him for his lunacy. The poet hints that he too, childishly, had picked up a stone to cast it in this fashion on majnoon, when a thought of his own head’s well-being came to him. The idea being, of course, to evoke that oft-evoked convergence of identities between majnoon and the Poet. Because of which a stone hurled at Majnoon would have ended up wounding the Poet’s own head.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Faiz - Rang hai dil kaa mere

OK, the Faiz spree continues - another tribute to Ghalib by Faiz today, and what a tribute this one is!

Like the nazm we looked at last week, this one (which is again from dast-e-tah-e-sang) also borrows words from Ghalib (from a ghazal that we've already looked at), for both its title as well as for part of its fourth line. But even without this element of literary interest, the nazm would easily be among Faiz's best - although my translation again falls quite sadly short...

tum na aaye the to har chiiz vahii thii ke jo hai
aasmaa.n had-e-nazar, raah-guzar raah-guzar, shiishaa-e-mai shiisha-e-mai
aur ab shiishaa-e-mai, raah-guzar, rang-e-falaq
rang hai dil kaa mere “khuun-e-jigar hone tak”
champaii rang kabhii, raahat-e-diidaar kaa rang
surmaii rang ke hai saa'at-e-bezaar kaa rang
zard patto.n kaa, khas-o-khaar kaa rang
surkh phuulo.n ka, dahakte hue gulzaar kaa rang
zahar kaa rang, lahuu-rang, shab-e-taar kaa rang
aasmaa.n, raah-guzar, shiishaa-e-mai
koii bhiigaa huaa daaman, koii dukhtii huii rag
koii har lahzaa badaltaa huaa aaiinaa hai
ab jo aaye ho to Thahro ke koii rang, koi rut, koi shai
ek jagah par Thahre
phir se ek baar har cheez vahii ho jo hai
aasmaa.n had-e-nazar, raah-guzar raah-guzar, shiishaa-e-mai shiishaa-e-mai

तुम न आये थे तो हर चीज़ वही थी के जो है

आसमाँ हद-ए-नज़र, राह-गुज़र राह-गुज़र, शीशा-ए-मय शीशा-ए-मय

और अब शीशा-ए-मय, राह-गुज़र, रंग-ए-फ़लक

रंग है दिल का मेरे "खून-ए-जिगर होने तक"

चम्पई रंग कभी, राहत-ए-दीदार का रंग

सुरमई रंग के है सा'अत-ए-बेज़ार का रंग

ज़र्द पत्तों का, खस-ओ-ख़ार का रंग

सुर्ख फूलों का, दहकते हुए गुलज़ार का रंग

ज़हर का रंग, लहू-रंग, शब-ए-तार का रंग

आसमाँ, राह-गुज़र, शीशा-ए-मय

कोई भीगा हुआ दामन, कोई दुखती हुई रग

कोई हर लहज़ा बदलता हुआ आइना है

अब जो आये हो तो ठहरो के कोई रंग, कोई रुत, कोई शय

एक जगह पर ठहरे

फिर से एक बार हर एक चीज़ वही हो जो है

आसमाँ हद-ए-नज़र, राह-गुज़र राह-गुज़र, शीशा-ए-मय शीशा-ए-मय

When you hadn't come, every object was what it (actually) is
the sky, the limit of vision...; the pathway, a pathway...; the glass of wine, a glass of wine...

And now... the glass of wine, the pathway, the colour of the heavens,
are (like) the colour of my heart "until the slaying of (/arrival of blood from) the liver"

A yellow colour sometimes, (like) the colour of the solace of sighting (the Beloved)
(or) an inky colour that is the colour of oppressive hours,
the colour of yellowing leaves, of straw and thorns,
the colour of red flowers, of blazing rose-beds,
the colour of poison, of blood, the colour of dark nights

The sky, the pathway, the glass of wine;
one a damp daaman, one an aching vein,
one an ever-changing mirror.

Now that you've come, stay - so some colour, some season, some thing
stays put in one place;
(and) once again every object becomes what it (actually) is,
the sky, the limit of sight...; the pathway, a pathway...; the glass of wine, a glass of wine...

Probably the chief feature that makes this poem sound so haunting is the way the last line replicates the second... that delicious sense of 'having come back full circle' is difficult to define or explain, but makes for a very pleasurable poetic sensation. In this case, the sense of replication is augmented, of course, by the very deliberate use of replicated-structures throughout... in particular in the repetition of the thematic triad of 'aasmaan', 'raah-guzar' and 'sheeshaa-e-mai' as a sub-text right through the verses.

Despite its beauty and the extreme simplicity of the words themselves, this poem is often held to be a little oblique. However, if one looks at the defining part of the poem - namely the third and fourth lines within which Ghalib is quoted - and revisits the original Ghalib sher from which these words are borrowed - one can get enough of a handle on the entire nazm.

In that sher Ghalib had spoken about the difficulty of making his heart (torn between the immediacy of desire and the interminableness of the wait for the Beloved) 'settle' on a rang (where the word can mean not just physical colour, but also something like 'mood' or 'fate') while it waits for the Liver to either resume supplies of blood, or die (thus shutting off such supply permanently). It is this sense of 'swinging between the extremes' that this present nazm also evokes - after one has fallen in love, the 'comings and goings' of the Beloved can cause one's universe to alternately soar and plummet, making for a slightly dizzying state of affairs! Hence the appeal, at the end of the nazm, for the Beloved to stay put, so that some constancy, some sanity, can be restored to the Lover's world!

The way Faiz conveys the 'junoon' of a newly-smitten Lover's mind is exquisite. Look at the migraine-like multiplicity of colours that he conjures up to denote the shifting associations - the sighting of the Beloved like the yellow of champaa flowers, the black of koh'l like the tiresome spans of time spent in her absence, etc. And in the next thematic set, the sky becomes like a dampened daaman (dampened with what? tears? blood? rainclouds?), while a simple pathway throbs like an artery in pain; and the wine-glass (that emblematic source of relief, otherwise) itself acquires all the unreliability of a shifting, distorting mirror!

Good stuff, this!

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Faiz - Naagahaan aaj mere taar-e-nazar se

We recently looked at those two ghazals, one by Mir and the other by Ghalib, that ended in the radif 'mere baad' - remember?

I recalled today that Faiz has pulled a rather neat trick in one of his nazms, managing to pull in an entire sher from the Ghalib ghazal above, but in a totally transformed context and mood. Let's have a decko, shall we?

Naagahaa.n aaj mere taar-e-nazar se kaT kar
TukDe TukDe hue aafaaq pe khurshiid-o-qamar
ab kisii simt andheraa na ujaalaa hogaa
bujh gaii dil kii tarah raah-e-wafaa mere baad
dosto.n, qaafilaa-e-dard kaa ab kyaa hogaa?
Ab koii aur kare parvarish-e-gulshan-e-gham
dosto.n, khatm huii diida-e-tar kii shabnam
tham gayaa shor-e-junuun, khatm huii baarish-e-sang
khaak-e-raah aaj liye hai lab-a-dildaar ka rang
kuu-e-jaanaa.n mei.n aaj khulaa hai mere lahuu kaa parcham
dekhiye dete hai.n kis kis ko sadaa mere baad
“kaun hotaa hai hariif-e-mai-e-mard-afgaan-e-ishq?”
hai muqarrar lab-e-saakii pe salaa mere baad

नागहाँ आज मेरे तार-ए-नज़र से कट कर

टुकड़े टुकड़े हुए आफ़ाक़ पे खुरशीद-ओ-क़मर

अब किसी सिम्त अँधेरा न उजाला होगा

बुझ गई दिल की तरह राह-ए-वफ़ा मेरे बाद

दोस्तों, क़ाफिला-ए-दर्द का अब क्या होगा ?

अब कोई और करे परवरिश-ए-गुलशन-ए-ग़म

दोस्तों, ख़त्म हुई दीदा-ए-तर की शबनम

थम गया शोर-ए-जूनून, ख़त्म हुई बारिश-ए-संग

ख़ाक-ए-राह आज लिए है लब-ए-दिलदार का रंग

कू-ए-जानां में आज खुला है मेरे लहू का परचम

देखिये देते हैं किस किस को सदा मेरे बाद

"कौन होता है हरीफ़-ए-मय-ए-मर्द-अफ़गान-ए-इश्क?"

है मुक़र्रर लब-ए-साकी पे सला मेरे बाद

Suddenly today, cut by the thread/darkness of my glance,
(scattered) in pieces (all over) the heavens, are the sun and moon;
in no direction shall there now be darkness...or light;
the path of faithfulness lies extinguished (darkened) like a heart, after me
friends, what shall become of the caravan of suffering...?

Let someone else now nurture the garden of pain,
friends, the dew of (my) wet eyes has run out,
The clamour of madness has ceased, the downpour of stones has let up.

The dusts of the pathway have taken the hue of the sweetheart's lips, today,
(for) the ensign of my blood has opened out on the beloved's street, today.

Let us see who all they will call out for, after me;
"who shall be equal to the man-slaying wine of love?!"
the cry is constant on the saaqi's lips...after me.

This short piece appeared under the title of 'khatm hui baarish-e-sang' in Faiz's Dast-e-tah-e-Sang (hand beneath the stones). The tone is intensely political, of course - as in almost every poem in this collection. But, apart from the clever use of the last two lines - lifted verbatim from Ghalib - the poem is also notable for its rather unusual technical elements. In particular, note how the rhyme-structure and the sense-structure of the lines diverge in a maddeningly deliberate way...namely, the lines that rhyme with each other more than often belong to distinct thought-units... a very intriguing piece of construction, this.

Some points worth revisiting:
'naagahaan' denotes a sudden, unexpected, occurrence, usually accidental. The nicest part of this first line is probably the 'taar-e-nazar'. The common sense in which 'taar' is used, i.e. a wire or a string, lends meaning to the 'slicing' of the sun and moon that the line evokes; but this meaning is given further beauty by the alternative meaning of 'taar' which is 'darkness' (as a diminutive form of taariqii) - it is, thus, equally the 'darkness' of the glance that has laid waste to the sun and moon, scattering their pieces all over the horizons. And it is this condition - wherein (mere) fragments of the sun and moon dot the entire sky - which makes for that statement about every place being neither adequately lighted nor properly darkened. simt is usually used in the sense of 'direction', but equally means a path or passage towards something. Which, in turn, links up intriguingly with the next line, about the path of devotion having been 'extinguished' like a heart (when used for a heart, bujhnaa would imply being beset by sorrow or depression, of course).

And baarish-e-sang is such an expressive expression, isn't it? A sort of hailstorm of stones, perhaps...?

Parcham is a flag or an emblem (or, more accurately, the 'colours' of an advancing army, carried wound up or tasselled on a spear or mace), hence the 'opening' or 'spreading out' of the "parcham of the Lover's blood" on the Beloved's lane, is a beautifully haunting way to signify his life-fluid being spilt there, thereby reddening the soil in a way redolent of the Beloved's lips.

And the two-line quote from Ghalib - how much more challenging it sounds here, in a political context, calling out for successors to the just-sacrificed poet...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Faiz - aa ke vaabastaa hain

The most remarkable thing about Faiz was, undoubtedly, the eerie way he was able to use the traditional imagery of urdu love shaayarii in poems that veered away from romance, and into themes of social/political relevance. However, in my view, he was often very 'modern' in other ways too, investing much of the classical stylistics he borrowed from tradition with the aesthetic sensibilities that one usually associates with Western poetics.

Consider the first three-fourths of this beautiful piece from
Naqsh-e-fariyaadii, for instance. In the nazm, which appeared under the title 'Raqeeb ko', (translating as 'to the rival') the stylised Rival is addressed by the poet not in the bitter and accusatory tones that classical shaayarii inevitably reserves for him, but with a curiously touching fellow-feeling. These lines attribute a special kindred-ness to the Rival, simply because he alone, because of his own love for the Beloved, can truly understand the Poet's pining for her! There is even an implied desire to 'vicariously' sample, through the Rival's eyes, the intimacies that have been denied to the Poet himself. That's very 'modern', isn't it?

And then, of course, the final part of the poem throws in a breath-taking 'spin' to the whole thing, making one revisit the earlier haunting lines, to ask
who this Beloved is...the feminine ideal or a 'social' one...?!! [Well, this is Faiz...!!]

aa ke vaabastaa hai.n us husn kii yaade.n tujh se
jis ne dil ko parii-khaana banaa rakhaa thaa
jis kii ulfat mei.n bhulaa rakhii thii duniyaa ham ne
dahar ko dahar kaa afsaanaa banaa rakhaa thaa
aashnaa.n hai.n tere qadmo.n se vo raahe.n jin par
us kii madhosh jawanii ne inaayat kii hai
kaarwaa.n guzre hai.n jin se usii raanaaii ke
jis kii in aankho.n ne be suud ibaadat kii hai
tujh se khelii hai.n vo mahbuub hawaae.n jin mei.n
uske malbuus kii afsurdaa mahak baaqii hai
tuu ne dekhii hai vo peshaanii, vo rukhsaar, vo honTh
zindagii jinke tasavvur mei.n luTaa dii ham ne
tujh pe uThii hai.n vo khoii huii saahir aankhe.n
tujh ko maaluum hai kyo.n umr ga.nwaa dii ham ne
ham pe muskaraate hai.n ehsaan gham-e-ulfat ke
itne ehsaan ki ginwaauu.n to ginwaa na sakuu.n
ham ne is ishq mei.n kyaa khoyaa hai, kyaa siikhaa hai
juz tere aur ko samjhaauu.n to samjhaa na sakuu.n

aajizii siikhii, gariibo.n kii himaayat siikhii
yaas-o-hirmaan ke, dukh-dard ke manii siikhe
zer-dasto.n ke masaa'ib ko samajhnaa siikhaa
sard aaho.n ke, rukh-e-zard ke maanii siikhe

jab kahii.n baiTh ke rote hai.n vo be-kas jinke
ashq aankho.n mei.n bilakhte hue so jaate hai.n
na-tawaano.n ke niwaalo.n pe jhapaTte hai.n ukaab
baazuu tole hue, ma.ndraate hue aate hai.n
jab kabhii biktaa hai baazaar mei.n majduur kaa gosht
shahraaho.n pe gariibo.n kaa lahuu bahtaa hai

aag sii siine mei.n rah rah ke ubaltii hai, naa puuchh
apne dil par mujhe kaabuu hii nahi.n rahta hai!

के वाबस्ता हैं उस हुस्न की यादें तुझ से
जिस ने दिल को परी-खाना बना रखा था
जिसकी उल्फत में भुला रखी थी दुनिया हम ने
दहर को दहर का अफ़साना बना रखा था
आशनां हैं तेरे क़दमों से वो राहें जिन पर
उसकी मदहोश जवानी ने इनायत की है
कारवाँ गुज़रे हैं जिन से उसी रानाई के
जिस की इन आंखों ने बे-सूद इबादत की है
तुझ से खेली हैं वो महबूब हवाएं जिन में
उसके मलबूस की अफ्सुर्दा महक बाकी है
तुझ पे भी बरसा है उस बाम से महताब का नूर
जिस में बीती हुई रातों की कसक बाकी है
तू ने देखी है वो पेशानी, वो रुखसार, वो होंट
ज़िंदगी जिनके तसव्वुर में लुटा दी हम ने
तुझ पे उठी हैं वो खोई हुई साहिर आँखें
तुझ को मालूम है क्यों उम्र गंवा दी हम ने
हम पे मुस्कराते हैं एहसान गम-ए-उल्फत के
इतने एहसान की गिनवाऊं तो गिनवा न सकूं
हम ने इस इश्क में क्या खोया है, क्या सीखा है
जुज़ तेरे और को समझाऊँ तो समझा न सकूँ

आजिज़ी सीखी, गरीबों की हिमायत सीखी
यास-ओ-हिर्मान के, दुख-दर्द के मानी सीखे
ज़ेर-दस्तों के मसाइब को समझना सीखा
सर्द आहों के, रुख-ए-ज़र्द के मानी सीखे

जब कहीं बैठ के रोते हैं वो बे-कस जिनके
अश्क आंखों में बिलखते हुए सो जाते हैं
न-तावानों के निवालों पे झपटते हैं उकाब
बाज़ू तोले हुए, मंडराते हुए आते हैं
जब कभी बिकता है बाज़ार में मजदूर का गोश्त
शाहराहों पे गरीबों का लहू बहता है

आग सी सीने में रह रह के उबलती है, ना पूछ!
अपने दिल पर मुझे काबू ही नहीं रहता है !!

Come, for associated with you are the memories of that loveliness,
which had made (my) heart the abode of fairies;
in adoration of which, I had (chosen to) forget the world
(and) make (my) lifetime, a tale of the age!

Familiar with your steps are those pathways, on which
her intoxicated youth has bestowed its bounties;
on which have passed caravans of that gracefulness,
which these eyes worshipped in vain!

With you have played those adored zephyrs, in which
still linger the faint fragrances of her cast-off garments;
On you too has moonlight showered down from that roof,
in which linger the aches of spent nights.

You've seen that forehead, those cheeks, those lips,
in imagination of which, I squandered away (my) life;
On you have risen those pensive, magical eyes,
you understand why I (bet and) lost an (entire) lifespan...

On (both of) us smile the indulgences of love's suffering,
so many indulgences that if I were to have (them) counted, I couldn't get them counted;
What I have lost in this love,...(and) what I have learnt,
But for you, if I were to explain to another, I couldn't (possibly) explain!

(I) learnt (of) exasperation, learnt to champion the (causes of the) indigent,
(I) learnt the meanings of despair and denial, of sorrow and pain.
Learnt to understand the misfortunes of the subjugated,
learnt the significance of cold sighs, of pallid faces.

(And now) whenever sit weeping those forlorn ones, whose,
tears sob themselves to sleep in (their) eyes;
(and when) hawks swoop down on the morsels of the powerless,
(when) with wings outspread, hovering, they come;
Whenever a labourer's meat is sold in the market,
(or) the blood of the poor flows down the King's road;

Something like a fire wells up again and again in my breast; oh don't ask (about it)...!
(for) I am left (at such times) with no control over my heart!!

Kyaa baat hai! Waah! Isn't it just absolutely magical how he manages to audaciously turn that entire, sublimely beautiful, first part of the poem, touching in its lack of bitterness, into such a powerful explanation of his bitterness at the state of the world...?

OK, let's look at some notable word-choices:

First off, that impossible-to-translate fourth line 'dahr ko dahr kaa afsaanaa banaa rakhaa thaa'. Afsaanaa means a story, a fable, a tale; a word which, like in English, can stress the fictional aspect of what is being said, or alternatively be used to mean a chronicle of something that has actually happened. Dahr is also maddeningly multivalent - it can mean anything from a long period of time (an 'age', or even 'eternity') to fortune or fate (adverse or otherwise) and is also used in more value-neutral sense to mean something like habit or custom. With so many possible meanings, the dual-use of the word allows us to interpret the line in a variety of sense-permutations... the poet could be saying that he had 'devoted his lifetime to constructing a story of our times' or 'a story (lament) of his misfortunes', or had chosen to see 'time' itself as a story of his lifetime...etc.

The sixth line goes 'uskii mad-hosh jawaanii ne inaayat kii hai'. Jawaanii is one of the most recurrent words in urdu poetry, of course - but it, interestingly, has no exact English equivalent. [In French, there is an exact equivalent - in jeunesse.] One usually translates jawaanii as 'youth'... but the exact period of life captured in the word is the one that lies between adolescence and old-age, namely the period of sexual maturing and activity. Which is why the word is used so often as a proxy for the Beloved's sensual charms, of course...and why a word like madhosh goes so well in association with it. The 'pathways' to which the Beloved's jawaanii has been kind (which is how this line would literally translate) are presumably those on which the budding nymphet has passed by with her swaying, sexually alluring gait...the next line makes this explicit by talking about caravans of her raanaaii, which means something like a 'graceful gait'.

Malboos is literally clothes, but specifically a piece of clothing that has been worn, or has been taken off after wearing... which gives sense to the invoking of 'fading fragrances'.

In the line 'jis me biitii hui raaton kii kasak baaqii hai', the word kasak means something like a faint but racking pain... a spasm or pang. To see these pangs as somehow reified in the roof of the Lover's bedchamber, is the sort of poetic magic that this line somehow pulls off!

I absolutely love the two lines that go 'tujh pe uthii hain vo khoii hui saahir aankhen; tujhko maaloom hai kyon umr ganwaa dii ham ne'. The sense being captured is something like the potently colloquial "Come on - You have been looked at by those haunting eyes!! Even if nobody else does, surely you understand why I couldn't help wasting my life away awaiting the same moment!'

Aajizii is the noun form of 'aajiz' which we had looked at in an earlier Faiz poem - the word denotes a strong sense of exasperation, the kind that comes from repeated frustration of effort! While yaas means despair or hopelessness, hirmaan has a slightly different nuance of being denied or refused something.

zer-dast combines the Farsi preposition for 'under' with 'hand', and, naturally, means 'being under the hand' of someone, i.e. being in a subjugated or subordinate position.

Masaa'ib is (in arabic) the plural of the much more common word musiibat, which we are familiar with in everyday speech.

Zard is literally 'yellow' - hence, rukh-e-zard describes wan, pale, bloodless faces.

Naa-tawaan describes someone weak, powerless or impotent.

A Shaah-raah is literally 'a royal road' and describes a principal or main avenue, usually the road leading to the ruler's palace (think of the Rajpath in Delhi, which leads to President's House). The word figures often in Faiz's poetry, because of its obviously political connotations...