‘Zihaal-e-Miskin’ by Hazrat Amir Khusru

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The pretty tales you knit
Those mischievous looks you throw
You disdain my poor heart
Pray, don’t torment me so

Too heavy is the burden
Of your absence, my dear
Oh, why won’t you reach out to me?
Why won’t you hold me near?

As long as your flowing raven locks 
The gloom of separation extends
And the moment we meet at last,
Like life, in an instant will end

O friend, If I see not his face
If I don’t catch my beloved’s cheer
How will I endure the black of night?
How will the darkness disappear?

Twin eyes; magical, enchanting
Did, of a sudden, my senses arrest
With countless wiles, with myriad guiles
They banished my peace, my calm, my rest

O, who is there has pity for me?
Who here has a heart that won’t refuse?
Who will take my tidings to him?
Who will give my darling my news?

A bewildered mote in the wind I
A gust-shaken quivering fire
Consumed by the blaze of love
I fall and fall into its gyre

No rest to soothe my limbs
My eyes are by sleep spurned
I hear no glad tidings of you, my love
I hear no news of your return

Khusro, in hope of the day
When I will at last get to see
My beloved, my dear
Who’s long tormented me

I’ll keep my mind subtle
I’ll keep it restrained and wait
In case I comprehend yet
His dark beguiling traits

.

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Zihaal-e miskin’ makun taghaful, duraye naina banaye batiyan’-
ke taab-e hijran’ nadaaram ae jaan’, na leho kaahe lagaye chhatiyan’

Shaban-e hijraan’ daraaz chun’ zulf wa roz-e waslash chun’ umr kotah-
Sakhi piya ko jo main na dekhun’ to kaise kaatun andheri ratiyan’

Yakayak az dil do chashm-e jadoo basad farebam baburd taskin’-
Kise padi hai jo jaa sunaave piyare pi ko hamaari batiyan’

Chun’ sham’a sozan Chun’ zarra hairan’ hamesha giryan’ ba ishq aan’ mah-
Na neend naina na ang chaina na aap aaven’ na bhejen’ patiyan’

Bahaqq-e roz-e wisal-e dilbar ke daad mara ghareeb Khusro-
Sapet man ke waraaye raakhun jo jaane paaun piya ki ghatiyan’

(the state of the poor don’t overlook, darting looks, making talk
that patience of separation i cant endure, my life, why don’t you take me to your bosom

night of separation long like your hair, and day of union like life is short
my friend, my love if i don’t see, so how will pass dark nights

suddenly, the heart  by two eyes magic, thousand guiles stole my peace
who cares to go and tell my darling dear my news

like a candle wavering, like a mote bewildered, always fallen in love’s fire
no sleep in eyes, no limbs have peace, no you arrived, no sent any news

in honour of the day of union with my beloved, who long torments poor khusro
suppressed mind, i will waiting keep,  if i find my loves letters/news)

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This ghazal is a masterpiece of technical artistry. It’s a macaronic composition: the first verse of the couplet in farsi, and the second in brij-bhasha. Farsi being the more academic and lofty language, whilst the other a language of the streets. Regardless of this, it flows seamlessly, without any indication of transition in rhythm.

Full of themes of reverent love and soulful sentiment, this poem, to this day, remains one of the main choices for qawwalli renditions.

On this translation – The profundity of the poem is such that in unspooling the meaning from the verses, I found that I couldn’t match the succinctness of the original. So each verse turned into a quatrain in translation, unfortunately encumbering and labouring the reading of it. However, I hope some brilliance of the original peeps through the heavy screen of translation.

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