September 27, 2012

साँसों की परिधि

जैसे अन्धकार में
एक दीपक की लौ
और उसके वृत्त में करवट बदलता-सा
पीला अँधेरा।
वैसे ही
तुम्हारी गोल बाँहों के दायरे में
मुस्करा उठता है
दुनिया में सबसे उदास जीवन मेरा।
अक्सर सोचा करता हूँ
इतनी ही क्यों न हुई
आयु की परिधि और साँसों का घेरा।

--- दुष्यंत कुमार

September 24, 2012

Tonight I can write the saddest lines

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example,'The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.'

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me sometimes, and I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another's. She will be another's. Like my kisses before.
Her voide. Her bright body. Her inifinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that's certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my sould is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

---Pablo Neruda

September 21, 2012

The Wolf's Postcript to 'Little Red Riding Hood'

First, grant me my sense of history:
I did it for posterity,
for kindergarten teachers
and a clear moral:
Little girls shouldn't wander off
in search of strange flowers,
and they mustn't speak to strangers.

And then grant me my generous sense of plot:
Couldn't I have gobbled her up
right there in the jungle?
Why did I ask her where her grandma lived?
As if I, a forest-dweller,
didn't know of the cottage
under the three oak trees
and the old woman lived there
all alone?
As if I couldn't have swallowed her years before?

And you may call me the Big Bad Wolf,
now my only reputation.
But I was no child-molester
though you'll agree she was pretty.

And the huntsman:
Was I sleeping while he snipped
my thick black fur
and filled me with garbage and stones?
I ran with that weight and fell down,
simply so children could laugh
at the noise of the stones
cutting through my belly,
at the garbage spilling out
with a perfect sense of timing,
just when the tale
should have come to an end.

--- Agha Shahid Ali

September 10, 2012

Jodi Bheste Jaite Chao - Duel of Poets ( If You Wish to Go to Heaven)

SHISHWA (Disciple)
If you wish to go to heaven
Keep fear of Allah in your heart

GURU (Teacher)
If you want to be close to Allah
Keep love within your heart

SHISHWA (Disciple)
I'm just your daughter's age
I'll assume the side of shariah
And take an anti-Sufi stance
Don't take what I say to heart
You ignore the Holy Scriptures -
What kind of Muslims are you?

Why are the mullahs
always angry with you?
Keep fear of Allah in your heart

GURU (Teacher)
You need a measure of wisdom
to grasp the Koran and Hadith
How can half-read mullahs
interpret the intricate Scriptures?

They preach to others
without knowing the texts
The dogmatic mullahs
make their living from deception
Well fed and fattened, they use
their strength to abuse us
Keep love within your heart

SHISHWA (Disciple)
You Sufis chant Allah's name
Ignoring creed and prayer

You smoke pot during Ramadan
With the excuse of meditation
What kind of Islamic creed
Sanctions this immorality?
Keep fear of Allah in your heart

GURU (Teacher)
Just showing off your rituals
Is that true namaz?
Namaz is meditation,
To attain tranquility

Fasting is self control
How many really follow that?
They skip their meals by day
And eat double by night

We don't lust for heaven
And have no fear of hell
Keep love within your heart

SHISHWA (Disciple)
You don't go on pilgrimage
You don't give charity
What do you have against
Ritual sacrifice?
Why should Muslims
Quaver at the sight of blood?

GURU (Teacher)
You're asked to sacrifice
Your dearest ones
Are these cows and goats
Your most beloved?

Nothing is dearer than yourself
The supreme sacrifice is self sacrifice
If you can, restrain your senses
Control your passions
Keep love within your heart

SHISHWA (Disciple)
You roam around with women
Without wedding them
You sing and dance together
Without shame

The outside world is for men
The woman's place is at home
Keep fear of Allah in your heart

GURU (Teacher)
Woman is the seed of life
The source of creation
Those who believe in inequality
Lock women into marriage

Woman is the vessel of love
Woman is the Mother
Without Woman we would not
Come into being

You need both man and woman
For procreation and creation
Keep love inside your heart

If you want to be close to Allah
Keep love inside your heart

--- Source. Selected Song Texts from the Film Matir Moina and Listen to song in youtube.


So what, if you've written a poem?!
Somebody says it's lovely,
Someone else says it's awful.
Someone coughs,
Someone groans.
The sun has no idea
About the lovely poem.
Nor does the cat
Nor the mouse.
And the house is still made of stone,
The table- of wood.
But the water
which I drink from a glass
Is suddenly sweet,
And green as grass.
I lift it high
Higher than my hair
And fall three times
To my knees then and there,
And kiss the table
and kiss the house!
and search every cranny
for that little mouse.

--- By Reyzl Zhychlinska
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

September 7, 2012

The Negro Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers:
I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I've known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.

My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

--- Langston Hughes

September 6, 2012

I am Goya

I am Goya
of the bare field, by the enemy’s beak gouged
till the craters of my eyes gape
I am grief

I am the tongue
of war, the embers of cities
on the snows of the year 1941
I am hunger

I am the gullet
of a woman hanged whose body like a bell
tolled over a blank square
I am Goya

O grapes of wrath!
I have hurled westward
the ashes of the uninvited guest!
and hammered stars into the unforgetting sky – like nails
I am Goya

---Andrey Voznesensky
(translated from the Russian by Stanley Kunitz)

September 5, 2012

From the Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes

I made a big decision a little while ago.
I don’t remember what it was, which prob’ly goes to show
That many times a simple choice can prove to be essential
Even though it often might appear inconsequential.

I must have been distracted when I left my home because
Left or right I’m sure I went. (I wonder which it was!)
Anyway, I never veered: I walked in that direction
Utterly absorbed, it seems, in quiet introspection.

For no reason I can think of, I’ve wandered far astray.
And that is how I got to where I find myself today.

Explorers are we, intrepid and bold,
Out in the wild, amongst wonders untold.
Equipped wit our wits, a map, and a snack,
We’re searching for fun and we’re on the right track!

My mother has eyes on the back of her head!
I don’t quite believe it, but that’s what she said.
She explained that she’d been so uniquely endowed
To catch me when I did Things Not Allowed.
I think she must also have eyes on her rear.
I’ve noticed her hindsight is usually clear.

At night my mind does not much care
If what it thinks is here or there.
It tells me stories it invents
And makes up things that don’t make sense.
I don’t know why it does this stuff.
The real world seems quite weird enough.

What if my bones were in a museum,
Where aliens paid good money to see ‘em?
And suppose that they’d put me together all wrong,
Sticking bones on to bones where they didn’t belong!

Imagine phalanges, pelvis, and spine
Welded to mandibles that once had been mine!
With each misassemblage, the error compounded,
The aliens would draw back in terror, astounded!

Their textbooks would show me in grim illustration,
The most hideous thing ever seen in creation!
The museum would commission a model in plaster
Of ME, to be called, “Evolution’s Disaster”!

And paleontologists there would debate
Dozens of theories to help postulate
How man survived for those thousands of years
With teeth-covered arms growing out of his ears!

Oh, I hope that I’m never in such manner displayed,
No matter HOW much to see me the aliens paid.

I did not want to go with them.
Alas, I had no choice.
This was made quite clear to me
In threat’ning tones of voice.

I protested mightily
And scrambled ‘cross the floor.
But though I grabbed the furniture,
they dragged me out of the door.

In the car, I screamed and moaned.
I cried my red eyes dry.
The window down, I yelled for help
To people we passed by.

Mom and Dad can make the rules
And certain things forbid,
But I can make them wish that they
Had never had a kid.

Now I’m in bed,
The sheets pulled to my head.
My tiger is here making Zs.
He’s furry and hot.
He takes up a lot
Of the bed and he’s hogging the breeze.

--- Bill Watterson

September 4, 2012

The Game

He is a poor pawn.
He always jumps to the next square.
He doesn’t turn left or right
and doesn’t look back.
He is moved by a foolish queen
who cuts across the board
lengthwise and diagonally.
She doesn’t tire of carrying the medals
and cursing the bishops.
She is a poor queen
moved by a reckless king
who counts the squares every day
and claims that they are diminishing.
He arranges the knights and rooks
and dreams of a stubborn opponent.
He is a poor king
moved by an experienced player
who rubs his head
and loses his time in an endless game.
He is a poor player
moved by an empty life
without black or white.
It is a poor life
moved by a bewildered god
who once tried to play with clay.
He is a poor god.
He doesn’t know how
to escape
from his dilemma.

---Dunya Mikhail
[translated from the Arabic by Elizabeth Winslow]

September 3, 2012


I stand accused of Shahrayaristry
By friends
By enemies,
Accused of Shahrayaristry,
Of collecting women
Like stamps or empty matchbooks,
Of pinning them up
On the walls of my room.
They call me narcissistic,
Oedipal, sadistic...
Accusing me of every known disorder
To prove themselves educated
And me a deviant.

Nobody will hear my testimony,
My love.
The judges are biased
The witnesses bribed.
I am declared guilty
Before I testify.
Nobody, my love,
Understands my childhood
For I am from a city
That has no love for children,
That knows no innocence,
That has never bought one rose
Or book of poetry,
A city of rough hands,
Of hard feelings and hearts
Calcified by swallowed glass and nails.
I come from a city of ice walls
Whose children are dead of frostbite.

I make no apologies, have no intentions
To hire a lawyer
Or save my head from rope.
A thousand times they hung me
Till my neck got used to hanging,
And my body to the ambulance.

I make no apologies, have no hopes
For an innocent verdict
From any man,
But in a public hearing
I will tell you alone
Before my mere accusers,
Who tried me for possessing more than one woman
For hoarding perfumes, rings, combs
And other rationed things in wartime:
I love you alone,
I cling to you
As the peel to the pomegranate,
The tear to the eye
And the knife to the wound.

I want to say
If just this once
That I have never followed Shahrayar,
I am no murderer
And have never melted women in acid,
But am a poet,
Writing out loud,
Loving out loud.

I am a green-eyed child
Hanged on the gates of a childless city.

--- By Nizar Qabbani
Translated by A.Z. Foreman

*Shahrayar=The King

September 1, 2012


I count up the corpses and aircraft
Falling in pieces from the news
I count the bullets that are exhumed,
The bullets that are buried
And the bullets preparing
To be shot loose.
I follow the ritual of food.
I finish my plate
By eating the plate
After a day of hard labor.

When did I get this heartless?
Tomorrow, I'll make room in a corner of your chest
Where I can cry
And I just might exhume the corpse out of my chest
And prepare a ritual
Of proper burial.

---By Nawal Naffaa
Translated by A.Z. Foreman