Ali Sardaar Jafri

Ali Sardaar Jafri ( 1912-2000) was an Urdu poet and an intellectual of the left; a major figure in Progressive Writers' Association, he was the editor of many journals including Naya Adab and Indian Literature. He has written a play and short stories also. He has nine books of  poetry and four book. He has translated Ghalib's Persian maqnavis. He was Fellow of Sahitya Akedemi and his hounors includes Padmshree and Jnanpith.

Why Can't I Sleep

Beautiful is the night
Why can't I sleep.

Day's burning glances
Disappeared in the dark
Noises of iron cuffs-clanking chains,
Prisoner's heavy breathing,
Indecent assaults and hurled profanities
By the prison-guards,
Silence of helplessness
Wailing of silence
Drowned in the enveloping darkness.

The sultry virgin of the eve
Crossing the barbed wires and iron fences
Came to me
With her she brought
The coolness of the mountain
The fragrance of the countryside.

Beautiful is the night
Why can't I sleep.

Bluish are the arms
And the youthful breast
Milkyway the forehead
Half-moonlight, the dress,
Robe of the velvety darkness flutters;
Beautiful is the night
Why can't I sleep.

Night swings in the moonlight
Stars with their tiny hands
Weave magic in the sky.
Cricket chirping tells a story.
Away, outside the prison
Plays a `Shahnai';
A passing train on its moving wheels
Sings a lullaby.

Beautiful is the night
Why can't I sleep.

Everyday in the night
Sleep evades my eyes;
Leaves me alone,
Goes out from the prison
To the city of Bombay
Knocks at the door of my house
Fills the drowsy eyes
Of a baby
With the sweetness Of dreams;
As a beautiful fairy
Sings a lullaby and
Rocks the cradle.

Beautiful is the night
Why can't I sleep.

Translated from Urdu :MH.K Qureshi

My Journey

And a day will come
When the lamps of eyes will be extinguished,
The lotus flower of hands will wither,
And from the petal of tongue
The butterflies of word and sound
Will fly away.

In the deep bed of a dark ocean (of nothingness)
All the forms
Flowering like buds,
And smiling like flowers,
Will be lost.
The symphony of the circulating blood
And the beating of the heart
Will go to slumber.

And on the blue velvet of space,
This shining particle of diamond,
This my earth, my paradise,
Its dawns and dusks,
Unknowing, unaware,
Will shed their tears like drops of dew,
On the fistful dust, that is man.

All will melt into oblivion.
And from the beautiful temple of memories,
All the idols will be removed.
Then no one will ask:
"Where is Sardar in the assembly?"

But I will return here again and again,
I will speak with the lips of children,
I will sing with the throats of birds.

When seeds will smile in the womb of creation,
And young shoots, with their fingers,
Will tickle the layers of earth,

Then from leaf to leaf and bud to bud,
I will open my eyes again,
And will hold on my green palm,
The drops of dew in playful mood.

I will turn into the splash of Hina,
The melody of Ghazal, the style of poetry
I will blush in the scarlet of bridal veils.

When the winter winds will blow
The stark autumn to the world,
The sound of my laughter will be heard,
From the dry crunch of leaves,
Under the tread of youthful feet.

The golden rivers of the earth,
The azure lakes of the sky,
Will overflow with my being,
And the secret will be revealed,
That every tale is my tale,
That every lover is SARDAR,
And every beloved is SULTANA.

I am a fleeting moment
In the magic house of days and nights,
I am a restless drop,
Traveling eternally,
From the flask of the Past
Tol the cup of the Future.
I sleep and awake,
Awake and sleep again,
I am ancient play on the stage of Time,
I die and become immortal.

Translated from Urdu by the Poet

Robe Of Sparks

Who stands there wearing a robe of sparks,
His body crushed, blood dripping from his forehead?
It's a long time since farhad and Qais died:
Who, 0 people of the world, is sentenced to be stoned?
Here there's no elegant beauty like Shirin,
No Laila of the spring-time body.
Then in whose name do these wound-tulips bloom?

There is a madman who still speaks in the name of truth,
Who even yet will not bow down before deceit and sham.
Clearly, stoning is the punishment for him.

Translated from Urdu: G. C. Na rang & Richard H. Robinson


Silence is a dream;
An awareness of pain;
A lamp for the darkness
Of the heart;
Not moulded by lips,
Not tasted by the tongue;
And nightingales,
Which will sing only when
Spring Collies

To the garden of desires.
Today, the words
Are only words,
Unspoken, unformed;
A dance of fingers
On the harp of the soul,
A melody of desire,
Soundless and formless.

Translated from Urdu Baider Bakht & Kathleen Grant Jaeger

A Poem

Wearing the robe
Of man's blood,
Offers the mirage of hope
To those who cannot see.

ranslated from Urdu . Balder Bakht & Kathleen Grant Jaeger

Negro, My Brother

In this forest of ivory,
His black body,
Like a swirling black cloud,
Like a flash of black lightning,
A sea of black limbs,
That ebbs and flows and meanders,
Shining in the blazing sun,
Can turn into a spear,
Dancing to the beats of drums,
It takes on the enemy.
Negro, my brother,
Picks flowers from every forest.
My brother's feet are red,
Like roses.

Translated from Urdu . Balder Bakht & Kathleen Grant Jaeger


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