A fragment of a poem by Bahadur Shah Zafar

Zafar, not anyone loves you,
Alas, you bring comfort to none;
A pinch of pitiful dust you are,
Of little use to anyone.

Listless and hollow is your song,
And unworthy of an audience it be;
Your voice aches of separation,
Of broken hearts is its melody.

You are not comely anymore,
Your beloved is lost to you;
As a seed from a fall-stricken garden
That the wind has scattered askew.

Friendless and alone is your state now,
No one to even call a foe;
Cursed and ruined is your fate now
Like a land barren and fallow.

Who would come to your funeral?
Why should you expect someone to mourn?
No flowers will be laid, no candles lit
At your grave: broken and forlorn.


This is traditionally recognized as one of Bahadur Shah Zafar’s last and greatest poems. He was in exile at the time.

A broken and sad man by then, Zafar makes us forget that these heart rending words are by the man who belonged to one the greatest royal dynasties in history: the Mughals.

Recent scholarly thought has put forth a different opinion on the authorship of this poem; ascribing it to Muztar Khairabadi, a well respected poet in his own right.

I want to believe that it is by the emperor; It makes the verses even more tragic and melancholic when one thinks of the circumstances of Bahadur Shah Zafar’s last days.


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