To the artists

Ahmed Faraz

You sprinkled gold-dust on the forehead of the Earth
But lived yourself in the gloomy expanses.
You wove an Eden of dreams for others,
But burnt yourself in the inferno of misery.
You listened to the heartbeat of humanity,
But spat blood for all your life.

Whenever the world burnt in the fire of war,
You sang lullabies of peace.
Whenever blew the storm of destruction
You showed the beacons of light.
The human civilization owes its blooming to you,
But you had to face the arrow-dart of tyranny.

You adorned your masterpieces with your heart-blood,
But your hands were chopped off, as reward.
You led the world to the springs of nectar,
As reward, you had to drink the bowls of poison.
Alas! You had to die at the hands of the world,
Though you lived all your life to serve the world.

You were not a messenger, a claimant of heavens.
You talked about earth, with the earthly people.
You gave to the dust the spark of stars,
Though you were deprived of your eyes.
You healed the wounded hearts of people,
But in return the world crucified you.

From the castle and court to the street of gallows,
The chain is the same, as it used to be in the past.
You were denied the fragrance of a garden, while alive,
But after death, you have a grave with flowers covered.
O the saviors! How long this suicide!
There are vast distances between earth and heavens!

Translated from Urdu by Arjumand Ara

Ahmed Faraz (1931-2008) was a prominent Pakistani Urdu poet known for his progressive radicalism and defiance against oppression in post-colonial Pakistan. The above poem is taken from his collection Dard Ashob.

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