Sunday, 29 April 2007

Faiz - Gulon mein rang bhare

Continuing with Faiz... another 'sweet' ghazal, often sung. The radif 'Chale' can, depending on construction, be used in the Indicative mood (as a declaratory statement), as well as in the subjunctive (expressing a wish) mood, leading to a delicious ambiguity in some of the shers.

gulo.n mei.n rang bhare, baad-e-naubahaar chale
chale bhii aao ki gulshan kaa karobaar chale

गुलों मे रंग भरे, बाद-ए-नौबहार चले
चले भी आओ कि गुलशन का कारोबार चले

"let the blooms fill with colour, let the first zephyr of spring flow
do come over, so the garden can get on with its daily business"

A plea directed at the Beloved, obviously.

A straightforward sher, the beauty of it lies in the way the first line, at first, sounds like the expression of a simple wish - may colour fill the flowers, etc. - the 'normal' sort of wish you would expect a poet to make. It is only when the second line hits you (and in the typical oral tradition of urdu poetry, this would happen after numerous repetitions of the first line, while the suspense builds up) that you realise that what the first line seemed to be wishing for is, in fact, nothing more than the 'day-to-day business' (कारोबार) of a garden, and what the poet actually desires is for is for the Beloved to come over to the garden, so that its 'normal activities' can 'proceed normally'!

It is only then that the actual compliment implied - that
in the absence of the Beloved, things are 'held in abeyance' in the garden - becomes clear!

SO much more romantic than simply telling the Beloved that she brings colour and freshness into his life, isn't it?

qafas udaas hai yaaro.n sabaa se kuchh to kaho

kahii.n to bahr-e-khudaa aaj zikr-e-yaar chale

कफ़स उदास है यारों सबा से कुछ तो कहो
कहीं तो बह्र-ए-खुदा आज ज़िक्र-ए-यार चले

"Gloom reigns in the cage, my friends; do say something to the breeze
somewhere, for God's sake, (there must be) discussion about the Beloved today!"

We return to the familiar 'kafas-gulshan' stylisation of a bird caged away from its garden (by implication, the lover separated from his Beloved).

"The cage is sad", he says, implying that the inhabitant of the cage (the poet himself) is dejected... and as a 'remedy' to his sorrow, he urges his friends to make a request the breeze - that it should seek out a location where the Beloved is being discussed. The implication being that his imprisonment would become bearable, if he could even enjoy a breeze that comes from such a place, and hence has picked up strains of this conversation along the way. Definitely hyperbole, but nice!

'bahr' is a Persian preposition, conveying a sense of 'on account of', or 'for the sake of'. Bahr-e-Khudaa would translate almost literally as the exclamatory 'for God's sake!'

kabhii to subh tere kunj-e-lab se ho aaghaaz
kabhii to shab sar-e-kaakul se mushqbaar chale

कभी तो सुब्ह तेरे कुन्ज--लब से हो आगाज़
कभी तो शब् सर--काकुल से मुश्कबार चले

"(at least once) let the dawn commence from the corner of your mouth
(at least once) let the night be rendered fragrant by your curled tresses"

'i wish there was at least some occasion when the morning was "set into motion" or "inaugurated" by the corner of your mouth' is how the first line literally reads.

To be woken up by a morning kiss from the Beloved seems almost too much to ask for, in the general scheme of things in the Ghazal universe! If wishes were horses...!

baDaa hai dard kaa rishtaa, ye dil gariib sahii

tumhaare naam pe aayenge ghamgusaar chale

बड़ा है दर्द का रिश्ता, ये दिल गरीब सही
तुम्हारे नाम पे आएंगे गमगुसार चले

"the ties of pain run deep; poor as this heart is
comfort-givers will come along, thanks to your name"

What a beautiful sher! I've read some truly ridiculous interpretations of this one on the internet, though!

In effect, the sher wears a sadly sarcastic note - the poet informing the Beloved about the deep fraternity that exists among those who have suffered the pain of her unfaithfulness... hence, even though his impecunious heart has little to offer to anyone, the mere spreading of the word that his pain is caused by the Beloved will cause (similarly suffering souls) to rush to his comfort!

There is a slight poetic rearranging of words in the second line which makes this (otherwise simple) meaning a little difficult to catch - the 'aayenge' is actually to be read after the final 'chale' as 'chale aayenge' (or 'will come over').

जो हम पे गुजरी सो गुजरी मगर शब्-ए-हिजरां
हमारे अश्क तेरी आकबत संवार चले

"i may have endured whatever i endured, but (on the) night of separation!
my tears left your future course adorned"

The implication (probably) being that (publicity about) the poet's copious tears during the night of separation would tend to further enhance the fame of the Beloved.

In an alternative reading, the sher is addressed to the 'shab-e-hijraan' itself - and the poet says that his tears would adorn the future of the (henceforth
famous) 'night of separation'!

In either interpretation, it is sweet.

हुज़ूर-ए-यार हुई दफ्तर-ए-जूनून की तलब
गिरह मे लेके गरेबां के तार-तार चले

"The Court of the Beloved (conveyed) the desire for (seeing) the 'documentation of infatuation'
(Tied) in a knot (I carried) the tatters of (my) collar"


There is such delicious abjectness here... The Beloved's Court commands that the 'case file' proving the (poet's) infatuation be produced before it; the poet carries a small pouch containingthe knotted remains of his collar, which he has (in the time-honoured 'chak-e-garebaan' stylisation of Urdu poetry) torn to bits in amorous frenzy.

'Daftar' is now used colloquially to mean 'office', but originally stood for a 'file' or 'folder' containing official papers, such as a legal brief. In Indian Government offices, there are still some persons nominally employed as 'daftaris' who are supposed to file papers and diarise their movement (although they usually just hang about eating peanuts and chewing paan!). The French word 'bureau' (now meaning office) has a similar etymology, i believe. So does the word 'budget' which originally stood for a bag containing official papers.

maqaam koi Faiz raah mei.n jachaa hi nahii.n

jo kuu-e-yaar se nikle to suu-e-daar chale

मकाम कोई फैज़ राह मे जचा ही नही
जो कू-ए-यार से निकले तो सू-ए-दार चले

"no location/station en route caught the fancy, Faiz
after quitting the Beloved's lane, (I) walked on (directly) towards the gallows"

Another beautiful Maqta by Faiz...

Apart from the Beloved's lane, the poet has little interest in setting up abode anywhere; banishment from that privileged neighbourhood is as good as a sentence of death!

The lovely internal rhythm of the final line deserves special savouring!


AJ said...

Superb explanation!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much yaar! You have made me a fan of Faiz instantly.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Thank you so much yaar! You have made me a fan of Faiz instantly.

darsh-e-ghulam said...

Wonderful explanation...especially the deft use of the english language...the references to the beloved is a master stroke...was Faiz a follower of some sufi saint ?

Random Thoughts said...

Beautiful Explanation !
Thanks a lot

Random Thoughts said...

Beautiful Explanation !
Thanks a lot

Chaitrali Deshpande said...

Beautifully explained.... Draws me into further enchantment by this ghazal

Chaitrali Deshpande said...

looking forward to reading more interpretations from you!

Unknown said...

Excellent. Such a beautiful rendering I have not come across in any one of the English translations to Faiz.

Shashank Shah said...

absolutely! really helped me to truly savor this ghazal finally having only vaguely understood it earlier..

Shashank Shah said...

absolutely! really helped me to truly savor this ghazal finally having only vaguely understood it earlier..

Ashish Chawla said...

The last sher is usually sung as " makaam Faiz koi"

"Shool" said...

outstanding....very strong command over all the languages and expressions.


"Shool" said...

outstanding....very strong command over all the languages and expressions.


Anonymous said...

V nice.. ur explanation makes the Ghazal even more beautiful. . Hats off.

Anonymous said...

Very well explained! your blog is surely as much a gem as this Sher

mahesh said...

is there a compendium anywhere of faiz's poems in urdu, hindi, (transliterated) english, english, with footnotes? it would make the poetry extremely accessible to a wider audience. i started on one but didn't get past about 4 poems. a wikipedia format would work (i've seen this for latin poetry). thanks for the nice post!

Unknown said...

Thanks for your superb explanation. Perhaps a Sher could be written about Farsi words making both beautiful and difficult to uderstand :)

Anonymous said...

Thanks. Awesome Explanation.

Aks said...

Deewaan sahab dil khush ho gaya aaj ye padh ke.
Kya khoob samjhaya aapne, jitni taareef kari jaaye kam hai.
Bohot Bohot shukriya iss Takalluf k liye.

Anonymous said...

yaar I am your fan now............. if possible, just drop me your email at least for further correspondence.....
Seriously, just so that I can ocassionally correspond you to rekindle my love for urdu poetry.

Anonymous said...

thank you much. made me appreciate urdu poetry

Kumar Vaibhav said...

Too good !!! Thanks for sharing. May god bless you !!

Sanket said...

Great translation, and not just literal translation but the implications of the lyrics as well
It is easy to do word to word translation but very difficult to draw implications and explain them
Thanks a lot

Unknown said...

I am in love with the words. The ones by Faiz and the ones by you!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. The translation and interpretation are much appreciated.

Unknown said...

Very nice

Unknown said...

This is the best translation I've found! Wow

Anonymous said...

very good translation
Thank You so much

Unknown said...

Kya baat hai!
I thought I understand these "words"...
But your "perspective"... Awesome

Rajdeep said...

The sher : Huzoor e yaar..
It may be hinting towards the Qur'anic story of Yousuf and Zalaikha. Here is the concerned part:

(24) They both ran to the door and, in the struggle, she tore his shirt at the back. They found her husband at the door. She cried, "Shall not the man who wished to violate your wife be thrown into prison or sternly punished?"
(25) Joseph said, "It was she who sought to seduce me." One of her household testified, "If his shirt is torn at the front then she is speaking the truth, and he is lying.
(26) But if it is torn from behind then she is lying, and he speaks the truth."

Zulaikha was, as you must have inferred, a married woman. Her husband found out that Yousuf's collar was torn from behind.

virtualciti said...
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virtualciti said...

Gulo.n me.n rang bhare, baad-e-naubahaar chale was written by Faiz in Montgomery Jail on 29 Jan 1954 later published in Zinda Nama. I made this translation in light of my understanding of the poet's travails with the hukumat (leadership) of Pakistan. He is talking in this ghazal about his plight and his yearning for a dawn of spring/ enthusiasm. If you would like to read, please visit

Faizilla said...

Very beautifully elucidated!

Anonymous said...

The best translation ever !

Anonymous said...

Very beautifully explained! You have amazing command over the Urdu language!

Rahul Yaduka said...

Bahut shukriya...Daftar e junoon wala explanation bahut hi badhiya hai...Abhi tak samajh nahi aaya tha theek se... Shukriya...

virtualciti said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
virtualciti said...

I have done a very different translation, and I believe this was written for Jinnah sahab as Faiz sahab was missing the vision of Jinnah in Pakistan's blooming (chale bhi aao ke gulshan ka karobar chale). aapki nazar karta hoon

Unknown said...

My goodness. What a beautiful explanation. Wow I admired the gazal for its beautiful rendition by Mehdi Sahab. Now I will have more sense of appreciation.

Unknown said...

Loved the detailed explanation, and the way you put it into context for the modern readers. Look forward to reading more such posts. Thank you!

JCSharma said...

There can not be a better explanation of the ghazal. Only a person with deep knowledge and love for fellow human beings can do this. My salute.

Amit Sethi said...

Thank you for educating us! Beautifully explained

Unknown said...

Beautiful explanation! Wow!

vivek said...

beautiful explanations! thanks and kudos
in the following lines "faiz' has been juxtaposed with 'koi' in your blog please

maqām 'faiz' koī raah meñ jachā hī nahīñ

jo kū-e-yār se nikle to sū-e-dār chale

Mrigank said...

Such explanations keep readers motivated. Thank you.

Unknown said...

You deserve a lot of respect for not only the beautiful translations but also for your deep understanding of love itself

Ganesh said...

One of the best explanations of any poetry I've seen. Gives the literal meaning plus the interpretation in a very nice way. Most translators forget one or the other.

Unknown said...

If I am not wrong then this gazal was written in jail by Faiz. The underlying idea in this gazal is about freedom of this country and those fighting for it. So the beloved in this gazal is country. This gazal is a masterpiece of chhayawad type of poetry, an ingenious way to write patriotic literature to avoid sensorship by British Raj to prevent such literature from reaching the masses. Last line is the final culmination of martyrdom! Absolutely brilliant!

Anonymous said...

I am sorry, it is about the freedom from oppressive rule of Pakistani govt. on its people and not from British Raj.