‘Shaam-e-Firaaq Ab Na Pooch’ by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

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Of that broken evening, don’t ask
It came and it was gone
The heart finds distractions anew
Life finds a way to move on

Taper-like, your beauty lights
The chambers where my thoughts lie
Pain that beamed like the moon is doused
Even as the anguished night dies

Your thoughts swirl through my mind
As blooms waft through the morning air
And restive grow the sultry nights
When my soul weighs down with your cares

As to those old matters of the heart
I deemed that I had wiped the board
Still, when faced with you once more
Contrary were the passions that flowed

Faiz, the consorts of the term-of-night
What ensued of them I do not know
Where did the breeze get left behind?
Where did the morning twilight go?
.

.

Sham-e-firaaq ab naa pooch, aayi aur aa ke tal gayi,
Dil thaa ke phir behal gaya, jaan thee ke phir sambhal gayi;

Bazm-e-Khayal mein tere husn ki shamaa jal gayi,
Dard ka chaand bujh gaya, hijr ki raat dhal gayi;

Jab tujhe yaad kar liyaa subaha mehak mehak uthee,
jab tera gham jaga liya raat machal machal gayi;

Dil se to har muamlaa kar ke chale the saaf hum,
kehney mein unke samne baat badal badal gayi;

Aakhir-e-shab ke humsafar “faiz” najaane kya hue,
Reh gayi kis jagah saba, subaha kidhar nikal gayi.

.

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There are beautiful renditions of this ghazal by various singers available online. It was one of them that moved me to try to translate it. I encourage anyone who is interested to check them out.

Caveat about Urdu translations: there are phrases in Urdu that convey feeling more than meaning. For Instance, Shaam-e-Firaaq, used by all Urdu poets at some point, has accrued a very rich and deep sentiment along the way. Although literally it means ‘evening of separation’, it conveys so much more- loneliness, longing, sorrow of separation, hope of reuniting with the beloved, and so on. So, rather than blandly transliterating such phrases, I think it benefits the translation to convey the intent instead. So that is what I try to do. Whether I succeed is another matter.

An important point about ghazals: A ghazal, as opposed to a nazm, doesn’t have to have a theme running through it. The verses are required only to be connected by mood, and each couplet can be self-contained and concise as long as it adheres to the color and feeling of the ghazal.  To the western reader, and in translation, this can sometimes seem jarring until one gets used to this idea.

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