Modern Punjabi Poetry – Shiv Kumar Batalvi

ShivKumarBataalvee-1-Modif-4.7731752

Translated by Randeep Singh

Shiv Kumar Batalvi (1936-1973) was born in the Sialkot district of West Punjab moving to Batala after 1947. He published over half a dozen books of poetry, including the epic poem “Loona” for which he was awarded the Sahtiya Akademi Award in 1967. His poems, tinged with “birhā” – the anguish of separation from one’s beloved – earned him the epithet “birhā dā sultān” (‘the king of birhā’) from Amrita Pritam. His poems have been rendered musically by Surinder Kaur, Mahindra Kapoor and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.

The Falcon (‘Shikrā’)
(abridged)

Mother! O, mother!
I made a friend of a falcon
His head carried a plume
His ankles adorned with bells
Pecking at feed he came
His beauty as sharp as sunlight
He pined for perfumes
His colour that of a rose
The child of a fair mother
His eyes, a sunset at springtime
His tresses, the rainy cloud season
His lips, a rising autumn sun …
A bed of love I strung together
Laying it out in the moonlight
The sheets and spread he spoilt
On his feet touching them
The corners of my eyes twinged
A flood of tears came
I spent the night thinking
What he had done to me …
The sweetmeats I crushed
He never ate
I fed him my heart’s flesh
He took with such a flight
Never to return

Mother! O, mother!
I made a friend of a falcon  …


Māe! Nī, māe!
Maiñ ik shikrā yār banāyā
Uhde sir te kalgī,
Te uhde pairī jhānjar
Te uh chog chungend āiā,
Nī maiñ vāri jāñ

Ik uhde rūp dī dhup tikherī,
Dujā mahikāñ dā trihāiā,
Tījā uhdā rang gulābī,
O kise gorī māñ dā jāiā,
Nī maiñ vāri jāñ!

Nainī uhde chet dī āthan
Ate zulfī sāvan chāiā
Hoṭhā de vich katteñ
Koī dihun chaṛne’te āiā
Nī maiñ vāri jāñ …

Ishqe dā ik palang nuārī
Assāñ chānanīāñ vich ḍāhiā
Tan dī chādar ho gaī mailī
Us pair jāñ palang pāiā
Nī maiñ vāri jāñ

Dukhan mere naināñ de koe
Vich haṛh hanjhūāñ dā āiā
Sārī rāt gaī vich sochāñ
Us ih kī zulm kamāiā
Nī maiñ vāri jāñ …

Chūrī kuṭṭāñ te uh khāndā nāhīñ
Uh nūñ dil dā mās khavāiā
Ik uḍārī aisī mārī
Uh muṛ vatnīñ nahīñ āiā
Nī maiñ vāri jāñ

Māe! Nī, māe!
Maiñ ik shikrā yār banāyā …

 

I Won’t Be Here Tomorrow (Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā)
(abridged)

O’ life
I won’t be here tomorrow
Let us embrace this song
Tightly in our arms tonight
And welcome its kiss
The moonlight won’t blossom
Nor will the jasmine bloom
The garden’s fragrance won’t wander
With its head uncovered
Nor like today
Will the branches bend
To touch the earth

The cranes will have flown
To lands far away
Tomorrow, time’s arms
Will have carried away my burdens
Nor will the spring remain
To adorn the neck
With the jewellery of flowers

Nor will my footprints remain
On the path of tomorrow’s dawn
Nor will my songs sew a robe
Of pain pure and true
Tears I shan’t shed like these
Under time’s shadow …

O’ life
I won’t be here tomorrow

Nī jinde
Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā
Aj rātīñ asīñ ghuṭ bāhāñ vich
Gītāñ dā ik chuman lainā
Nī jinde
Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā

Nā kalah khiṛnā chānan dā phul
Nā kalah khiṛnā chanbā
Nā kalah bāghīñ mahikāñ phirnā
Kar kar ke nī sir nangā
Nā aj vāgan
Lif lif ṭāhanāñ
Dhartī pairīñ painā
Nī jinde
Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā

Kūnjāñ uḍ puḍ jānā
Kidhre dūr disaurīñ
Kalah tak pīṛ merī nūñ samiāñ
Val lai jānā zorī
Nā ruttāñ gall
Kalah nūñ rahinā
Phullāñ dā koī gahinā
Nī jinde
Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā

Nā rāhvāñ dīāñ paiṛāñ kalah nūñ
Din chaṛhde tak jīnā
Nā mere gītāñ birhe jogā
Suchā jhaggā sīnā
Muṛ nā tārīkh dī chāveñ
Inj hanjhū koī bahinā
Nī jinde
Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā

Nā aj vāgan muṛ mil ke ral mil
ñ bahinā maiñ bahinā
Nā kalah edāñ sūraj chaṛhnā
Nā kalah edāñ lahinā
Sameñ de panchī dānā dānā
Sāhvāñ dā chug lainā
Nī jinde
Maiñ kal nahīñ rahinā …

To Become A Bird (‘Panchī Ho Jāwāñ‘)

I wish I could become a bird
To fly, to sing
To touch peaks untouched
To forget the paths of this world
To never return
To bathe in waters blessed
To drink water without halting
From the shores of a lake
And sing a melody broken
To alight in a blooming wilderness
And quaff perfume scented winds
I would warmly embrace
The dead peaks of mountains
Frozen from ages past
I’d nest amidst the mulberry trees
Or in desert trees, shrubs or cypresses
A cool easterly breeze would blow
And the branches would glimmer
As if someone swaying and playing
With her hair flowing from a swing
One day a storm would bellow
Hurling up twigs and grass
Without home or rest I’d wander
Drinking my life away in sweet sorrow
To pass my days in a drunken sway
I wish I could become a bird

Jī chāhe panchī ho jāwāñ
Uḍḍan jāwāñ, gāundā jāwāñ
Anchuh sikhrāññ chuh pāwāñ
Is dunīyā dīāñ rāhvāñ phul ke
Pher kadī vāpas nā āvāñ
Jī chāhe panchī ho jāwāñ

Jā ishnān karāñ vich zam zam
Lā ḍīkāñ pīāñ ḍān dā pānī
Mān-sarovar de bahi kanḍhe
Tuṭā jihā ik gīt maiñ gāwāñ
Jī chāhe panchī ho jāwāñ

Jā baiṭhāñ vich khiṛīāñ rohīāñ
Phukāñ paunāñ ittar sanjoīāñ
Him ṭīsīāñ moīāñ moīāñ
Yugāñ yugāñ toñ kakkar hoīāñ
Ghuṭ kaleje maiñ garmāwāñ
Jī chāhe panchī ho jāwāñ

Hoe ālahnā vich shatūtāñ
ñ vich janḍ karīr sarūtāñ
Aāun pure de sīt phurāṭe
Lachkāre ihoñ lain ḍālīāñ
Jioñ koī ḍolī kheḍe juṛīāñ
Vāl khilārī lai lai jhūṭāñ
Ik din aisā jhakhar jhulle
Uḍ puḍ jāvan sabhe tīle
Beghar bedar ho jāwāñ
Sārī umar pīāñ ras gham dā
Es nashe vich jind hanḍhāwāñ
Jī chāhe panchī ho jāwāñ

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