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Thread: Translations from Beautiful Urdu Poetry

  1. #1
    Metamorphosing Pensive's Avatar
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    Translations from Beautiful Urdu Poetry

    Though I must warn in advance it loses a lot in translation but I still feel Urdu poetry deserves better international exposure. I will start with some of my favorite poetry in English translation. The writer goes by the name of Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Any comments will be very much appreciated I am really very curious how a foreign audience might think of it.

    Before You Came
    Before you came,
    things were as they should be:
    the sky was the dead-end of sight,
    the road was just a road, wine merely wine.
    Now everything is like my heart,
    a colour at the edge of blood:
    the grey of your absence, the colour of poison, or
    thorns,
    the gold when we meet, the season ablaze,
    the yellow of autumn, the red of flowers, of flames
    ,
    and the black when you cover the earth
    with the coal of dead fires.
    And the sky, the road, the glass of wine?
    The sky is a shirt wet with tears,
    the road a vein about to break,
    and the glass of wine a mirror in which
    the sky, the road, the world keep changing.
    Donít leave now that youíre hereó
    Stay. So the world may become like itself again:
    so the sky may be the sky,
    the road a road,
    and the glass of wine not a mirror, just a glass of
    wine.
    Translated by Agha Shahid Ali
    Predicament
    The nightís curtain and my belovedís image Ė before
    my eyes!
    Once again the blood started to drip from my heart,
    Once again the cautiousness has fogged my sight,
    Once again the suppressed desire has enfevered my b
    eing.
    Do Not Ask Me For That Love Again
    That which then was ours, my love,
    don't ask me for that love again.
    The world was then gold, burnished with light --
    and only because of you. That what I had believed.
    How could one weep for sorrows other than yours?
    How could one have any sorrow but the one you gave?
    So what were these protests, these rumours of injus
    tice?
    A glimpse of your face was evidence of springtime.
    The sky, wherever I looked, was nothing but your ey
    es.
    If you'd fall in my arms, Fate would be helpless.
    All this I'd thought all this I'd believed.
    But there were other sorrows, comforts other than l
    ove.
    The rich had cast their spell on history:
    dark centuries had been embroidered on brocades and
    silks
    Bitter threads began to unravel before me
    as I went into alleys and in open markets
    saw bodies plastered with ash, bathed in blood.
    I saw them sold and bought, again and again.
    This too deserves attention. I can't help but look
    back
    when I return from those alleys -- what should one
    do?
    There are other sorrows in this world,
    comforts other than love.
    Don't ask me, my love, for that love again.
    I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold, and leaves of gold there grew.

  2. #2
    Memory

    In the desert of loneliness, my darling; quivers
    The echo of your voice, the mirage of your lips.
    In the desert of loneliness, beneath isolation’s debris,
    Are blooming jasmines and roses of your charming Self.

    I know what you mean when you say translations don't hold up with these poems. Iqbal Bano's ghazalic rendition of Memory (or 'dasht-e-tanhai') was mindblowing and a cultural gem to this day. One by Illama Mohd. Iqbal I like:


    Life and Action

    The Dilapidated coast confided, "though long I exist
    I know not yet, alas, of what I do consist"

    A rising surf of frenzy swelled past to insist
    "I am if I persist: nothing, if I desist."

  3. #3
    Snowqueen Snowqueen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pensive View Post
    Though I must warn in advance it loses a lot in translation but I still feel Urdu poetry deserves better international exposure. I will start with some of my favorite poetry in English translation. The writer goes by the name of Faiz Ahmad Faiz. Any comments will be very much appreciated I am really very curious how a foreign audience might think of it.
    I think it's very difficult to translate Faiz's poetry into English. It loses it's charm to be honest. The translation of Mujh Say Pehli si Muhabat (Do Not Ask Me For That Love Again) isn't quite appropriate in my humble opinion and seems a bit prosaic.

    Quote Originally Posted by missylovalova View Post
    Memory

    I know what you mean when you say translations don't hold up with these poems. Iqbal Bano's ghazalic rendition of Memory (or 'dasht-e-tanhai') was mindblowing and a cultural gem to this day.
    Oh, yes I agree it's a masterpiece and so is Gulon Mein Rang Bhare .

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