Modern Punjabi Poetry: Poetry from West Punjab

Translated by Randeep Singh

Punjabi poetry from Pakistan (West Punjab) include Sharif Kunjahi (1915-2007) and Ustad Daman (1911-1984) and poets who began writing after Pakistan’s independence in  1947 including Ahmad Rahi (1923-2002), Ahmad Saleem (b. 1945) and Mir Tanhai Yousafi (b. 1955).

Munir Niazi

munir-niazi1

Born in Khanpur near Hoshiarpur, now East Punjab, Munir Niazi (1926-2006) migrated to Sahiwal after 1947. A leading poet in Urdu and an acknowledged film song-writer, Munir wrote three books of poetry in Punjabi:  Safar Dī Rāt (‘The Night’s Journey), Char Chup Chīzāñ (‘Four Quiet Things’) and Rastā Dasan Vāle Tāre (‘The Path-Telling Stars’).

Paths (‘Raste’)

These paths
These winding paths
Where do they lead?
To ancient palaces
Into the arms of old friends?
Or into deep dark forests
Terrifying us, like a beast?
Or after making us wander aimlessly
Back to where we began?

Ih raste ih lambe raste
Kihṛe pāse jānde naiñ
Bahut purāne mahilāñ andar
Vichṛe yār milānde hain
Uchiyāñ ḍūngiyāñ jangle andar
Sherāñ vāng ḍarānde naiñ
ñ phir aiveñ ghum ghumā ke
Vāpas moṛ liānde naiñ

Means of Being (‘Honī de hīle’)

Some desire I had for a love not of this world
Some days I knocked on each door in search
Some friends never let go their faults
Some rivals stirred in their poison
Some company in separation I found
Some lovers gave me a pain profound
Some of my misfortunes withered away
Some distance brought love closer
Some of those paths were difficult
Some collars of grief I bore
Some townsfolk were tyrants to me
Some too I was fond to slay

Kujh shoq sī yār faqīrī dā
Kujh ishq ne dar dar rol dittā
Kujh sājan kasar na choṛī sī
Kujh zahar raqībāñ ghol dittā
Kujh hijar firāq da rang chaṛhīā
Kujh dard māhī anmol dittā
Kujh saṛ gaī qismat bad qismat dī
Kujh pyār vich judāī rol dittā
Kuch unj vī rāhvāñ aukhiyāñ san
Kuch gal vich gham dā tauk vī san
Kuch shahar de lok vī zālim san
Kuch maiññ maran da shauq vī sī

 

Najam Hussain Syed

Najam Hussain Syed (b. 1936) was born in Batala, East Punjab and moved to Lahore after 1947. He has written more than a dozen books of poetry in Punjabi (including Rutt Da KammChandan Rukh Da Vera and Bar Di Var) as well as plays in Punjabi and books on literary criticism, including Recurrent Patterns in Punjabi Poetry.

 

autumn-nature-bridge-wood-trees-leaves-red-green-yellow

Colours (‘Rang’)

Come, celebrate colours
Colours of new leaves
Again and again
New leaves gleam
A message of warmth
Place the warmth in your heart
The gleam in your eye
Come celebrate, again and again
If winter’s arrived, spring shall too
If smoke smoulders, the fire too shall blaze …
Come, celebrate
Again and again
Those who every day decay
Without becoming new
Live a life of death
Reds and greens come out
When they cast off old skins
Come celebrate the colours
Again and again

Naviāñ pattrāñ de
Aāo rang manāīe
Naviāñ pattrāñ de
Vāre vāre jāīe
Naviāñ pattrāñ dī lishk sunehā
Lishk ‘cho’ simdā sek sunehā
Sek dil de andar dharīe
Lishk akhīñ nāl lāīe, rang manāīe
Naviāñ pattrāñ de vāre jāīe
Chaṛiā māgh, vasākh vee āvsī
Dhukde rahe tāñ mach vī pavsī
Pelo pairīñ āondiāñ age
Dam dam tel chavāīe, rang manāīe
Naviāñ pattrāñ de vāre vāre jāe
Mar mar nit jihṛe naveñ na hoe
Uh tāñ rahisan jionde moe
Sūhe sāve niklan tāhīoñ
Haḍ gae jad lāīe rang manāīe
Naviāñ pattrāñ de vāre vāre jāīe

 

Zubair Ahmad

Zubair Ahmad (b. 1958) is a Punjabi poet, essayist, critic and short story writer. A former journalist, editor and previously active in Punjabi street theatre, Ahmad is currently a professor at Islamia College, Lahore. In addition to two short story collections, he has written two books of poetry in Punjabi: Koi Dam Yaad Na Keeta (‘A Breath Not Remembered’) and Sadd (‘The Call’) from which the following poems have been taken.

Feel Me Always, Like This (‘ Roz maiññ inj jāpe’)

Feel me always, like this
Like the evening
Creeping across the river
And the dawn
The quivering day
The furtive night

Roz maiññ inj jāpe
Jiveñ shām
Daryāoñ pār tūñ āve
Te savere dī
Darya darya din āve
Chorī chorī rāt

How Do I Tell Your Story? (‘Teri Kinj Kahānī Karīe’)

How do I tell your story, dear?
We’ve been apart for so long

We picked clean the cotton
Without spinning it into thread
We left with no goodbye
No candles on the sill
For the other to return home
How do I write this tale?
My words and speech have fled
We’ve been apart for so long

A strange evening came to town
When passing that final door
Closing its window to the world
I saw it all in a dream that night
Had my eyes hung on to that night!
But they broke under pain’s water
We’ve been apart for so long

Terī kinj kahānī karīe uṛīe
Rut purāne kar baiṭhe āñ

Pūnī pūnī kar jo katiā
Ohdā tān nā tanīā
Chaldiāñ vidā na kittā
Kakh bāl banere na dharīe
Kinj likhīe rām kahānī
Sabh sukhan zabānī kar baiṭhe āñ
Rut purāne kar baiṭhe āñ

Ajab shām nagar vich āī
Būhā pichlī jo langh āī
Os ḍhoī ḍar dī tākī
Sapan rāt akhīñ vich pāī
Ih raat akhīñ rakh lende
Akhāñ dardāñ pānī kar baiṭhe āñ
Rut purāne kar baiṭhe āñ

 

 

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