Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Two Poems By Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The theme of love is eternally recurrent in poetry and yet each poet gives it a new slant. When I read "Before You Came" by Faiz Ahmed Faiz, I am amazed that the obvious can be so compelling and be stated with such beautiful simplicity.

"Let Me Think" by Fiaz may be about the pain of alienation of one exiled. To me it seems the aftermath of a lover's refusal to heed a poet's entreaty "Now you are here again - stay with me. This time things will fall into place;" and in as such exiles the beloved from her heart.

In the reader's imagination and state of mind two poems from far ends of a poet's oeuvre come to exist in perfect harmony like they were paired to convey a fuller, deeper meaning. Being able to read meanings other than one intended is perhaps the greatest pleasure of reading poetry.

Before You Came
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Before you came things were just what they were:
the road precisely a road, the horizon fixed,
the limit of what could be seen,
a glass of wine no more than a glass of wine.

With you the world took on the spectrum
radiating from my heart: your eyes gold
as they open to me, slate the colour
that falls each time I lose all hope.

With your advent roses burst into flame:
you were the artist of dried-up leaves, sorceress
who flicked her wrist to change dust into soot.
You lacquered the night black.

As for the sky, the road, the cup of wine:
one was my tear-drenched shirt,
the other an aching nerve,
the third a mirror that never reflected the same

Now you are here again - stay with me.
This time things will fall into place;
the road can be the road,
the sky nothing but the sky;
the glass of wine, as it should be, the glass of

(translated by Naomi Lazard)

Let Me Think
by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

You ask me about that country whose details now escape me,
I don't remember its geography, nothing of its history.
And should I visit it in memory,
It would be as I would a past lover,
After years, for a night, no longer restless with passion,
With no fear of regret.
I have reached that age when one visits the heart merely as a courtesy.

(translated by Agha Shahid Ali)


bleu said...

those were nice picks from his collection. beautiful ones indeed. so much simplicity.

Rajesh said...

HC, I am a believer of simple expressions as well.

Thanks for sharing the poem. On your suggestion of poetry's pleasure in finding meaning other than the intended, I would add this - beyond the intended meaning and sometimes poetry can just "be". It can just be and nothing else. You might have read the poem Arts Poetica.

I wrote a blog on it a while back with the title "the meaning of poem" :)

Heartcrossings said...

Rajesh - Yes, some poetry is beautiful just by "being". One that comes to mind is by Seamus Heaney


A rowan like a lipsticked girl.
Between the by-road and the main road
Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance
Stand off among the rushes.
There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.

I cannot tire of reading it and have never sought to find any meaning.

buckwaasur said...

beautiful pieces...i can only imagine how much better they'd be in the original...thanks for sharing...:-)

Vidrohi said...

Very interesting. Thanks a lot.