Another Translation of Faiz

By Professor Dr. Saadat Saeed Urdu Department

Ankara university Turkey


Translation is a difficult art. It requires excellent command of both the languages. Translating poetry is even more difficult. Yaqub Mirza is one of competent translators. He recently translated Faiz Ahmad Faiz's 30 poems. The collection "Poems by Faiz" has been published by Jacob Publishers, Nothingham.

Yaqub Mirza is elder brother of well-known leftist intellectual Ayub Mirza. Yaqub himself is a poet. He is fully aware of the socio-political contexts of the poems he has translated. He knows that Faiz's poetry is a blend of modernism and classicism. He is anti-imperialist and wants his countrymen to struggle for their real liberation. Faiz has pointed out the contradictions of exploiters and the exploited, oppressors and the oppressed in his famous couplets. Faiz creatively combines the philosophy of progression with his poetic imagination. His sensibility indicates his deep sense of contemporary history and politics. Readers can visulise the manifestation of this awareness in his verses. He has given to his allegories, symbols, epithets, similes and metaphors multidimensional meanings.

Yaqub Mirza has also rendered some of Ghalib's ghazals and Iqbal's poems. This was not an easy task. However through the skill of the translator, these translations have become original in essence. Yaqub Mirza successfully embraces the passions of the poets. Mrs Alys Faiz, Mulk Raj Anand, Professor V. G Kiernan. Naomi Lazard, Aftab Iqbal Shamim, Masud A Shaikh and Lynne Hapgood have greatly appreciated his translations.

In the collection of translations, under discussion, poems and ghazals from Faiz's poetic collections entitled Ghubar-e-Ayyam, Merey Dil Merey Musafir, Sham-e-Shehryaran, Sar-e-Wadi-e-Seena, Dast-e-Teh-e-Sang, Zindan Nama, Dast-e-Saba, and Naqsh-e-Fariadi.

Faiz changed the traditional diction of ghazal, the sweetest form of Persian and Urdu poetry. Using even traditional vocabulary he projected amazingly the complex contemporary realities. Yaqub Mirza is a man of refined sensibility and has kept intact his flair for poetry despite his long association with army.

Yaqub is a stranger to the crowd of his contemporary writers. He does not believe in the publicity gimmicks that bring a person quickly into limelight. He rightly believes that Faiz's poetry deals with the backwardness of the third world in general and the Pakistan in particular. Yaqub has chosen Faiz's revolutionary poems that aim at improving the consciousness of teeming millions. Yaqub Mirza Says:

"I can distribute my smiles, sorrows, imagination and dreams like most of us can. We are all poets so far as we express our own feelings in some way or other. But lyrical expression of another person's mind is altogether a different matter. Having placed myself in that situation I found it an extremely difficult decision to make, which poems to translate and which to omit. I solved this problem by picking them at random. It is merely a coincidence that pattern has come off to be a blend of some revolutionary, a few love lyrics, plus a couple of elegies, covering the poetic contributions of Faiz, spread over half a century".

The book also contains a bibliographical sketch of Faiz and contextual notes on poems. Aftab Iqbal Shamim, who himself is an Urdu poet of great merit, rightly points out: "Rendering such a poet of multiple dimensions into translation, is a hard task. It cannot be performed unless the translator established a kind of spiritual communion with the poet. It is really a hard task.

"His classicism determines the form and value of his poetry. Deeply rooted in the classical tradition of Urdu poetry, he draws his symbolism, imagery, form and diction from the ancients. He invests them with freshness to his purpose, thereby modernizing the entire vocabulary of Urdu metaphor."

Being fully conscious of these facts Yaqub Mirza has translated Faiz's poems skillfully.

As a specimen we present here the translation of Faiz's famous poem "Tanhai" (Solitude)

Again: my poor heart,

 someone is coming.

Oh no, no one.

Maybe a way fairer,

making his own way

to somewhere


The dawn is spreading silver

down from the scattering stars.

Dozing candles in chambers

and shadows on walls

have started flickering

signs of their downfall

Every track on watch,

since the drowsing deep,

sick of waiting now

sunk down into sleep

And traces of footprints are confused

by the alien wind, dust and storm

Now empty your glass

bind your vision and

put away the flask

Drop down your shutters

to lock out your dreams

No one will be coming here,

not now, so it seems