Faiz Ahmed Faiz is widely regarded as one of the great Urdu poets of the twentieth century, and the iconic voice of a generation. Although he is best remembered for his revolutionary verses that decried tyranny and called for justice, his oeuvre also extended to scintillating, soulful poems of love.
Here are five gems that display Faiz’s extraordinary flair for tender hope and quiet longing.
1. Beloved, Don’t Ask Me For the Love that Was – “Mujhse Pehli Si Muhabbat Mehboob Na Maang”
Don’t ask me to love you the way I did before, my love
I’d imagined life to be bright and glowing because you were in it
What cared I for sorrows other than the joys of pining in your love?
It’s your beauty that keeps springtime intact upon the world
What else remains to be sought in the universe but your eyes?
2. Speak – “Bol”
Speak, for your lips are free
Speak, for your tongue is still yours
Your upright body belongs to you
Speak, for your soul still is yours
3. Highway – “Shahraah”
A long, desolate highway
Its gaze fixed on the far horizon
Spreading out its grey beauty
On the breast of the cold earth—
Like a grief-stricken woman
In her desolate home
Dreaming of her absent lover
Lost in thought, each part of her body immersed
in the idea of union.
4. The Day of Death – “Jis Roz Qaza Aayegi”
Kis tarah aayegi jis roz qaza aayegi
Shaayad iss tarah ki jis taur kabhi awwal-e shab
Be-talab pehle pahal marhamat-e bosa-e lab
5. Tyranny Giving Lessons in the Fidelity of Love – “Sitam Sikhlaayega Rasm-e Wafa Aise Nahin Hota”
Sitam sikhlaayega rasm-e wafa aise nahin hota
Sanam dikhlaaenge raah-e khuda aise nahin hota