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FAIZ, Faiz Ahmad

Bangladesh II

This is how my sorrow became visible:

its dust, piling up for years in my heart,

finally reached my eyes,

the bitterness now so clear that

I had to listen when my friends

told me to wash my eyes with blood.

Everything at once was tangled in blood—

each face, each idol, red everywhere.

Blood swept over the sun, washing away its gold.

The moon erupted with blood, its silver extinguished.

The sky promised a morning of blood,

and the night wept only blood.

The trees hardened into crimson pillars.

All flowers filled their eyes with blood.

And every glance was an arrow,

each pierced image blood. This blood

—a river crying out for martyrs—

flows on in longing. And in sorrow, in rage, in love.

Let it flow. Should it be dammed up,

there will only be hatred cloaked in colors of death.

Don't let this happen, my friends,

bring all my tears back instead,

a flood to purify my dust-filled eyes,

to was this blood forever from my eyes.

Dawn of Independence

This stained light, this night-bitten dawn;

This is not that long-awaited day break;

This is not the dawn in whose longing,

We set out believing we would find, somewhere,

In heaven’s wide void,

The stars’ final resting place;

Somewhere the shore of night’s slow-washing tide;

Somewhere, an anchor for the ship of heartache.

Night’s heaviness is unlessened;

The hour of the heart and spirit’s deliverance has not yet arrived;

Let us go on, that goal has not yet arrived.

Be near me

Be near me now,

My tormenter, my love, be near me—

At this hour when night comes down,

When, having drunk from the gash of sunset, darkness comes

With the balm of musk in its hands, its diamond lancets,

When it comes with cries of lamentation,

with laughter with songs;

Its blue-gray anklets of pain clinking with every step.

At this hour when hearts, deep in their hiding places,

Have begun to hope once more, when they start their vigil

For hands still enfolded in sleeves;

When wine being poured makes the sound

of inconsolable children

who, though you try with all your heart,

cannot be soothed.

When whatever you want to do cannot be done,

When nothing is of any use;

—At this hour when night comes down,

When night comes, dragging its long face,

dressed in mourning,

Be with me,

My tormenter, my love, be near me.


A despondent highway is stretched,

its eyes set on the far horizon

On the cold dirt of its bosom,

its grayish beauty spread

As if some saddened woman

in her lonely abode, lost in thought.

In contemplation of union with her Beloved

every pore sore, limbs limp with exhaustion

Do not ask my love

Do not ask, my love, for the love we had before:

You existed, I told myself, so all existence shone,

Grief for me was you; the world’s grief was far.

Spring was ever renewed in your face:

Beyond your eyes, what could the world hold?

Had I won you, Fate’s head would hang, defeated.

Yet all this was not so, I merely wished it so.

The world knows sorrows other than those of love,

Pleasures beyond those of romance:

The dread dark spell of countless centuries

Woven with silk and satin and gold braocade,

Bodies sold everywhere, in streets and markets,

Besmeared with dirt, bathed in blood,

Crawling from infested ovens,

My gaze returns to these: what can I do?

Your beauty still haunts me: what can I do?

The world is burdened by sorrows beyond love,

By pleasures beyond romance,

Do not demand that love which can be no more.

The incarceration of loneliness

On the far horizon waved some flicker of light

My heart, a city of suffering, awoke in a state of dream

My eyes, turning restless, still dreaming,

the morning, dawning in this vacuous abode of separation

In the wine-cup of my heart, I poured my morning wine

Mixing in the bitterness of the past, the poison of the present

On the far horizon waved some flicker of light

far from the eye, a precursor to some morning

Some song, some scent, some unbelievably pretty face

went by unknowingly, carrying a distressful hope

Mixing in the bitterness of the past, the poison of the present

I proposed a toast to the longings on this day of prison-visit

To the fellow drinkers of my homeland and beyond

To the beauty of the worlds, the grace of beloved's lip and cheek


Loneliness like a good, old friend

visits my house to pour wine in the evening.

And we sit together, waiting for the moon,

and for your face to sparkle in every shadow


Speak, your lips are free.

Speak, it is your own tongue.

Speak, it is your own body.

Speak, your life is still yours.

See how in the blacksmith's shop

The flame burns wild, the iron glows red;

The locks open their jaws,

And every chain begins to break.

Speak, this brief hour is long enough

Before the death of body and tongue:

Speak, 'cause the truth is not dead yet,

Speak, speak, whatever you must speak.

We who were executed

I longed for your lips, dreamed of their roses:

I was hanged from the dry branch of the scaffold.

I wanted to touch your hands, their silver light:

I was murdered in the half-light of dim lanes.

And there where you were crucified,

so far away from my words,

you still were beautiful:

color kept clinging to your lips–

rapture was still vivid in your hair–

light remained silvering in your hands.

When the night of cruelty merged with the roads you had taken,

I came as far as my feet could bring me,

on my lips the phrase of a song,

my heart lit up only by sorrow.

This sorrow was my testimony to your beauty–

Look! I remained a witness till the end,

I who was killed in the darkest lanes.

It’s true– that not to reach you was fate–

but who’ll deny that to love you

was entirely in my hands?

So why complain if these matters of desire

brought me inevitably to the execution grounds?

Why complain? Holding up our sorrows as banners,

new lovers will emerge

from the lanes where we were killed

and embark, in caravans, on those highways of desire.

It’s because of them that we shortened the distances of sorrow,

it’s because of them that we went out to make the world our own,

we who were murdered in the darkest lanes.


In the wasteland of solitude, my love, quiver

shadows of your voice, illusions of your lips.

In the wasteland of solitude, from the dusts of parting

Sprout jasmines and roses of your presence

From somewhere close by, rises the warmth of your breath

and in its own aroma smolders, slowly, bit by bit.

Far-off, across the horizon, dropp by glistening drop

Falls the dew of your beguiling glance.

With such overwhelming love, O my love,

your memory has placed its hand on my heart's cheek,

that it looks as if (though it's still the dawn of the adieu)

the sun of parting has set; the night of union has come.


If they snatch my ink and pen,

I should not complain,

For I have dipped my fingers

In the blood of my heart.

I should not complain

Even if they seal my tongue,

For every ring of my chain

Is a tongue ready to speak.


Do not strike the chord of sorrow tonight!

Days burning with pain turn to ashes.

Who knows what happens tomorrow?

Last night is lost; tomorrow's frontier wiped out:

Who knows if there will be another dawn?

Life is nothing, it's only tonight!

Tonight we can be what the gods are!

Do not strike the chord of sorrow, tonight!

Do not repeat stories of sufferings now,

Do not complain, let your fate play its role,

Do not think of tomorrows, give a damn-

Shed no tears for seasons gone by,

All sighs and cries wind up their tales,

Oh, do not strike the same chord again!

When Autumn Came

This is the way that autumn came to the trees:

it stripped them down to the skin,

left their ebony bodies naked.

It shook out their hearts, the yellow leaves,

scattered them over the ground.

Anyone could trample them out of shape

undisturbed by a single moan of protest.

The birds that herald dreams

were exiled from their song,

each voice torn out of its throat.

They dropped into the dust

even before the hunter strung his bow.

Oh, God of May have mercy.

Bless these withered bodies

with the passion of your resurrection;

make their dead veins flow with blood again.

Give some tree the gift of green again.

Let one bird sing.